Getting back onto transit

 

(Graph courtesy Dan Peterson @danp128)

As of today, Halifax Transit is increasing its service up to 84% of normal operating levels. The 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, and 9 are back their regular weekday schedules. But the Alderney ferry is still operating at a frustrating 30-minute frequency. This increase increase in service comes as ridership is starting to trend upwards again.

But as people start getting back on the bus, how do we keep drivers and passengers safe? Here are some steps HRM should be taking to keep everyone safe on the bus.

  • Halifax Transit should increase service up to 100% of normal operating levels. Even if there aren’t enough riders to justify running that many buses and ferries, the more buses and ferries are running, the more space there will be on each one for riders to steer clear of each another and give drivers lots of space.
  • Halifax Transit should also be providing disposable masks on buses for anyone who needs one. In general, everyone who can wear a mask on transit should be doing so. (Other Canadian transit agencies are doing this, and Halifax Transit should follow suit.) The more people wear masks on transit, the safer it will be for everyone. But by far the best way to encourage people to wear masks is to make them widely available, so it’s easy for people to make that choice.

Should masks be mandatory on transit? No. Masks should be encouraged and we want lots of people wearing them, but Halifax Transit is right not to make them mandatory. Wearing a mask just isn’t a possibility for everyone. People who suffer from PTSD following a traumatic confinement or people on the autism spectrum are people who might not be able to wear a mask. People who have multiple part-time jobs are likely in a rush, and more likely to forget their masks someplace when they’re trying to get from one job to another. These people should not be barred from transit because they can’t wear a mask. If the rest of us who can wear masks do our bit and wear our masks when we’re on the bus, we can can keep the risk of spreading COVID low even if a few people don’t wear masks.

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