Masks will be mandatory on Regional District of Nanaimo Transit buses beginning in late August.
Similar to B.C. Transit and Translink, who both made similar announcements Thursday, Darren Marshall, acting RDN general manager of transportation and emergency services, said customers will need to wear a mask, bandanna or other face covering while on area buses beginning Aug. 24, as part of COVID-19 safety measures.
“While face coverings will be mandatory, the policy will be implemented as an educational step without enforcement,” said Marshall. “The education position is aligned with B.C. Transit, Translink and other agencies in Canada.”
Marshall said masks will be provided during promotion before Aug. 24, although specific details are still being worked out.
“There is a campaign coming from B.C. Transit, in conjunction with the RDN,” said Marshall. “We will be at various platforms throughout the system and we’ll be providing a handout with a reusable mask and hand sanitizer and some information.”
There will also be exceptions to the rule, according to Marshall.
“Exemptions for mandatory face-covering policy: anyone with underlying health conditions or a disability which inhibits the ability to wear … face coverings; persons unable to place or remove a mask or face covering without assistance, children under five, employees working behind physical barriers, or within areas designated for employees and not for public access and police or first responders in emergency situations,” said Marshall.
According to a report at the July RDN transit select committee meeting, a loss of $2.1 million is projected due to COVID-19. Prior to declaration of a pandemic, an average of 10,000 riders were boarding RDN buses daily, but that has dropped to 4,000 a day, the report said.
Among the measures the RDN has taken to combat spread of the virus are extra sanitizing and cleaning on buses and barriers for drivers.