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Regular Lethbridge Transit routes and fees to resume in August

The City of Lethbridge is preparing to move back to regular transit services after several months of ride-by-reservation amid COVID-19. Emily Olsen / Global News

The City of Lethbridge has announced its current ride-by-reservation system will be replaced by regular summer routes and fares starting Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020.

On March 22, Lethbridge Transit suspended fares to protect the health and safety of the public and its staff amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A new system (ride-by-reservation) was instated on April 8, where conventional routes were suspended and transit users booked their rides for free.

Now, after receiving guidelines from the Government of Alberta, the city is working to get all safety precautions in place to relaunch transit routes next month.

Read more: Alberta lake communities clamp down on beach crowds amid COVID-19

“We were getting a lot of people commenting on the ride-by-reservation system [and saying that it] was not convenient for them,” said Kevin Ponech, transit manager for the City of Lethbridge.
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“We’re running about 12 per cent of what our normal capacity is, so by relaunching transit, we’re thinking that people will hopefully start riding the bus again.”

Preparations include installing a shield for each driver and equipping each vehicle with hand-sanitizer.

Mask-wearing will be strongly encouraged for all riders, but it will not be mandatory. More than 200,000 masks have been provided to Lethbridge Transit in an effort to protect the safety of staff and riders in the confined space of the vehicles.

“If you show up and you don’t have a mask, we’ll be more than happy to provide you a mask,” Ponech said.

A typical city bus can hold 36-38 people, but Ponech says enabling the capacity to maintain social distancing means the numbers will be lower than that.

“Right now, our maximum load [is] 14. However, if we have masks in place on everybody on the bus, we suspect that we can put quite a few more people on the bus.”

Cash will still be accepted to cover the $3 cost of a ride, but riders are encouraged to purchase a Breeze card instead.

Public access to the Transit building on 4 Avenue N. will continue to be by appointment only.

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