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Calgary Transit to install new barriers, provide face masks to increase ridership

Calgary Transit to install new barriers, provide face masks as ridership increases
WATCH: Calgary Transit said it is installing new barriers and handing out face masks in order to keep passengers and drivers safe as transit demand increases. Michael King reports.

Calgary Transit is unveiling its solutions to keep passengers and drivers safe in the hopes of increasing ridership.

New barriers are being installed on Calgary buses, allowing Calgarians to board buses from the front door.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, passengers have been asked to load through the rear door and to use the honour system by tearing up their transit tickets. No cash payments are allowed.

Changes to Calgary Transit coming July 1, 2020
Changes to Calgary Transit coming July 1, 2020

READ MORE: Coronavirus: 20 million non-medical masks now available at Alberta drive-thrus

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By July 1, Calgary Transit hopes to have the heavy-duty vinyl sheet installed on all city buses.

Russel Davies, the acting director for Calgary Transit, said that’s around the time the city plans to start collecting fares again.

“We’re trying to provide some isolation between our passengers and our operator so everybody can feel a bit more comfortable onboard the vehicle.”

Edmonton transit resumes charging fares on LRT and buses
Edmonton transit resumes charging fares on LRT and buses

Calgary’s 30-foot shuttle buses already have Plexiglas barriers in place and a similar fixture was going to be installed on the city’s larger buses.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Should masks be mandatory? Alberta doctors, Hinshaw weigh in

But an issue with glare means that the more permanent solution is still months away.

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“[The Plexiglas barrier] will be a bit more long-term. We’re realizing that people are going to have these kind of long-term concerns,” said Davies.

“We’ll provide something that’s just a little bit more sturdy for the operator and a bit more dependable for the passengers.”

Alberta closely watching research on masks and COVID-19
Alberta closely watching research on masks and COVID-19

Masks

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On Monday, Calgary Transit will start handing out some of the 200,000 masks it was given from the province.

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The non-medical masks will be available during the morning commute on weekdays, as well as at customer service centres in downtown Calgary.

READ MORE: Alberta partners with fast-food restaurants to distribute 4 non-medical masks to every resident

Wearing a mask will not be mandatory but Davies said it will be encouraged.

“We are strongly proposing people wear them,” said Davies. “We’re offering them out for free. And hopefully that… makes people safer and makes people return to public transit.”

Social distancing

Roughly every second seat is still blocked off on Calgary Transit, but Davies says the city is trying to increase the number of riders as demand slowly grows.

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“What we’re looking to do is allow vehicles to get back to a full-seated load,” said Davies.

“We are looking to get to roughly a capacity where everybody can have a seat. We’ll probably stay at that level and for a significant amount of time until there’s a wider solution to [COVID-19].”