With ridership rising every week during the ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Société de transport de Laval says it wants to remind transit users that complying with public health directives has become paramount – including the mandatory wearing of masks on buses.
For now, the STL, like all public transit authorities, is awaiting specific government directives while advocating for a province-wide application of the rule.
“We are asking users to adhere to this requirement,” STL board president Éric Morasse said in a statement on Monday. “It’s about being civic-minded vis-à-vis your fellow transit users. It’s a public health issue, because social distancing is not always feasible on buses. Thus far, we’ve handed out nearly 25,000 reusable masks in Laval, and we will continue distributing more. We expect everyone to cooperate.”
Making sure buses are safe
“Maintaining a safe bus environment relies on teamwork between the STL and transit users,” added STL general director Guy Picard. “Bus occupancy is now at upwards of 50 per cent of our usual numbers, which is quite a jump when you consider ridership was at 14 per cent at the outset of the pandemic. Instituting good health practices and having everyone wear a mask on buses now matters more than ever.”
The STL says that its teams are working tirelessly on rolling out an array of measures that will be in line with transit users’ expectations as they increasingly restart taking the bus. The STL says it is firmly committing to:
- Operating buses and bus terminals that are clean and disinfected;
- Maintaining transit user awareness regarding the safe practices they need to adopt while commuting;
- Providing information to facilitate the decision-making process so users feel they are riding safely.
The STL says it has already implemented numerous measures, including:
- Stepping up the cleaning of buses and bus terminals;
- Handing out masks;
- Raising awareness about the new public transit etiquette rules;
- Posting social distancing signs at bus terminals;
- Equipping users with tools like one that estimates bus crowdedness;
- Tailoring specific measures for paratransit services.
In addition to ensuring transit user safety, the STL says it has also been looking after providing its employees with a proper working environment. All office staff who are able to must continue to work from home. Employees who are required to work within two metres of each other are provided with protective equipment. Work schedules have been adapted to keep the simultaneous usage of common areas, like locker rooms, to a minimum.
The STL says it introduced rear-door boarding and a two-metre buffer zone between riders and the driver, and now the STL is also gradually installing a physical barrier on buses as added protection to shield drivers and riders. Some bus seats at the front will be blocked off to foster adequate distancing. These measures will make it possible to resume front-door boarding on August 1, and at the same time, begin validating fares again.