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‘So far, so good’: Tuesday marks Day 1 of mandatory masks on Lethbridge transit

Masks mandatory: Lethbridge bus drivers lead by example
Transit operators in Lethbridge say they have seen many people already following the new mask protocol for city buses. As Emily Olsen reports, the drivers say they are committed to leading by example.

The president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 987 says the council decision to reopen Lethbridge transit services with a mandatory mask rule is widely supported by bus drivers.

Read more: Mandatory mask rule to take effect on Lethbridge Transit Aug. 4

“The on-demand was getting to the point where it was tougher and tougher to keep up,” Travis Oberg explained Tuesday. “And creating ease for our passengers with [the return] to conventional service was the right step.”
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From his view, most people are taking Day 1 of the new rule in stride.

“So far so good,” Oberg said.

“We’ve seen a lot of customers that are already jumping on the bus with masks. For the few so far that haven’t, we’ve provided a recommendation and they’ve actually grabbed the masks on the buses and put them on right away.”

There aren’t fines associated with the new regulation yet, and Oberg hopes there won’t be a need with many drivers leading by example.

But some riders may need a little practice on mask etiquette in the days ahead.

“I did see a couple [of] people — they would pull their mask down to talk to the bus driver or somebody would be wearing it just under their nose, which is kind of counterproductive in my opinion,” transit user Liam Leinweber said Tuesday.

Leinweber said he takes Lethbridge Transit almost every day and is in full support of mandatory masks on buses voted on by council last week.

“I think because of the resurgence in cases, it’s what’s best for everyone at this point,” Leinweber said. 

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“I’m really glad that the regular bus schedule is back. Not having to wait an hour for each scheduling of the bus is really helpful. So far, it seems that people are following those mandatory mask rules, so I feel really safe.”

Other riders commented that it had taken them a moment to warm up to the idea of wearing a mask.

“At first, I was kind of iffy about it,” commented Patience Bastien before boarding a bus in Lethbridge on Tuesday. “But I feel a lot safer wearing it.”

Read more: Lethbridge city council votes to mandate face coverings on transit and at city facilities

The city intends to discuss further mandatory mask regulations similar to those in Edmonton and Calgary later this month.