Transit union says mask compliance on Winnipeg buses needs to be even higher

A Winnipeg Transit bus. Shane Gibson/Global News

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman says the city continues to monitor how many people are using Winnipeg Transit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While some riders have been raising concerns that buses are becoming quite full as the colder weather moves in, Bowman told 680 CJOB the city is responding to the demand.

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Sudoma

“Ridership is being continuously monitored and the most recent data that I have is that ridership right now is at 41 per cent of what it would be at this time of year,” he said.

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“There is an enhanced cleaning program that we’ve implemented — right now buses are being treated with hospital-grade sanitizer regularly.

“We’re using electrostatic sprayers that are aimed at those high-touchpoint areas, so we’ll keep doing those and keep an open mind to what we can do better.”

The mayor said that according to city figures, there has been a 97 per cent compliance rate of transit users using masks when boarding the bus.

Read more: Winnipeg Transit projecting $29M shortfall due to coronavirus: city report

For Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) vice-president James van Gerwan, however, that compliance rate is still too low.

“Using (Bowman’s) math, if we haul 50,000 people a day, that works out to over 1,500 people riding the bus every day not complying with the masks,” he said.

“That’s something that has to be taken relatively seriously.”

Van Gerwan said Bowman is correct in saying there’s an enhanced cleaning program, but the buses are only being cleaned every 48 hours.

“We’re actually thinking they maybe should be cleaned a little more regular now that this thing is going on,” he said.

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“As for the overcrowding of buses, I’m still getting reports every day from drivers who are concerned.

“This is a very tough time for everybody, our drivers included. We’re front line here, we’re driving our passengers to hospital facilities… We are asking for more improvements as well.”

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg to require masks in city facilities, vehicles, transit'
Winnipeg to require masks in city facilities, vehicles, transit
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