BC Transit is introducing several new measures in an effort to better align with the province’s COVID-19 restart plan, including resuming front door loading and fare collection on June 1.
“BC Transit is proud to provide transportation services our customers can rely on as we move into Phase 2 of BC’s Restart Plan,” said Erinn Pinkerton, BC Transit president in a May 21 media release. “Our team is committed to putting the safety of our customers, employees and communities as our top priority.”
Sanitation on busses and at facilities will continue and BC Transit will encourage safe behaviour over social media channels and signage on busses.
Ridership in Terrace is down between 60 and 80 per cent compared to last year, measured on a week-by-week basis, largely due to schools and businesses shifting online.
“It is something we will have to work with our customers to ensure the bus is a comfortable place for them moving forward,” said Jonathon Dyck, BC Transit communications manager.
In addition to collecting fares and restarting front door entry, BC Transit announced several other new measures. There will be one-way passenger movement in through the front and out the back, except for situations where a customer has a mobility aid and needs to leave out the front of the bus.
Face coverings and masks will be encouraged where physical distancing is difficult or impossible. Drivers will have the ability to limit buses to a “comfortable” load, meaning that they may pass stops even if they are not at full pre-COVID-19 capacity.
“It is going to be managed on a case-by-case by operators but what we are encouraging customers to do is please try to travel at off-peak times as much as possible,” said Dyck.
BC Transit is retrofitting 663 buses with full driver protective barriers in approximately 34 regional systems, at a total cost of $850,000. The barriers consist of a large piece of tempered glass with a metal base, designed to increase driver safety. Installations began in Abbotsford and Chilliwack in early May.
“We don’t have an exact timeline for Terrace yet when that will happen but it’s something that will be in by the fall of this year,” said Dyck.
In the meantime, Terrace’s four medium duty buses will be equipped with a temporary vinyl panel beside the drivers in advance of June 1, when passengers will start entering through the front door.