Steven Deneault wore a bright blue disposable mask on Tuesday morning while waiting for his bus at the downtown Lansdowne Transit exchange.
“When I’m around crowds, I put it on,” Deneault, a regular transit passenger, told KTW en route to a dental appointment. “I don’t know where people are coming from. Off airplanes, all that stuff.”
Deneault, 63, is among the majority of passengers who appear to be adhering to mask-wearing guidelines aboard Kamloops buses.
BC Transit recently made face coverings mandatory and it is part of a growing list of companies and organizations to do so.
On Tuesday morning, city councillors handed out reusable masks at transit exchanges downtown and in North Kamloops.
Armed with about 500 reusable cloth masks, councillors reported it slow without the usual surge of Thompson Rivers University students and with people at home to curb spread of the novel coronavirus.
British Columbia has also seen a rise in COVID-19 cases lately, likely leading to caution and fewer passengers.
“It’s been slow,” Coun. Dale Bass said. “And over on North Shore, as well. [Councillors] Mike [O’Reilly] and Kathy [Sinclair] are there and said it’s been slow. But I’m not surprised because it’s crazy time again.”
Of those hopping on board, Coun. Bill Sarai said nine out of 10 passengers on Tuesday were wearing masks and a bus driver told KTW about 95 per cent of passengers are adhering to the new mandate.
Arnie Kidner, a BC Transit bus driver, said passengers don’t tend to obey no-smoking signs at transit exchanges, but most are wearing masks. Kidner said he has not run into, nor heard of, onboard conflicts related to the new mask mandate.
Part of that is likely due to drivers not enforcing mask-wearing for security reasons.
If someone walks onto a bus without a mask, drivers say nothing. Still, even without enforcement, most passengers are complying when asked via BC Transit’s education campaign.
“It’s been nice because people are actually paying attention to it [mask requirement],” Kidner said.
Most of the passengers spotted on Tuesday appeared to be wearing face coverings and passengers who spoke to KTW reported feeling safe on board city buses as a result.
“I feel very safe,” Deneault said.
“When people follow the rules and wear masks, it makes me a lot more comfortable, right? Because you don’t know who’s sitting behind you or sitting beside you.”
Veerbal Brar, 24, rides the bus every day. Of those who aren’t adhering, she pointed to youngsters.
Meanwhile, 36-year-old Travis Nolt is exempt from wearing a mask, due to a respiratory condition.
He was wearing one on Tuesday, however, and suggested BC Transit provide those who are exempt from wearing a face covering with an identification card, as has been done by TransLink in the Lower Mainland.
Sarai said some passengers have expressed anxiety about those who take off their masks once they have taken their seat.
“Keep your mask on during the ride,” Sarai said. “Not only for yourself, but for your fellow passengers.”
BC Transit has not given drivers masks to provide to passengers who have forgotten face coverings and councillors on Tuesday handed extra masks to bus drivers to give out to passengers.