By Mira Williamson—

Masks are now mandatory for all public transit riders in Ottawa.

The nation’s capital became the first city in Canada to require masks as part of health and safety measures implemented by OC Transpo, which is its public transit agency.

The measures — all put in place as the province enters Phase 2 of its COVID-19 response — also include protective shields for bus drivers, front-door boarding and payment, hand sanitizer at all stations and mandatory cloth face masks.

Here’s what OC Transpo riders at the Westboro Station thought about the new protocols.

Photo of Crystal Nadiajiwn holding a face mask in her hands while she waits for the bus

Crystal Nadiajiwn, 29

“People are still spitting on the floors, they’re still throwing their stuff on the floor, so in reality, I don’t know why we have to wear a mask. We’re not really going to get any cleaner because people are pigs. And it makes no sense that we have to wear a mask but we still have to pay for the bus.” 

Photo of Matthew Gradelle, wearing a cloth face mask, arms crossed in front of his body, waiting for the bus.

Matthew Gradelle, 20

“It’s for safety. I’m fine with it. It’s to protect everybody.”

Photo of Anotoliy Borodavka standing in the bus shelter, without a mask on.

Anotoliy Borodavka, 51

“I think it doesn’t affect [me]. You know if you wear a mask, everybody should do that. If one [does] it, not another one, it’s [not] working.”

Photo of Marco Mancini, under a concrete underpass, with a cloth mask on and pointing his two index fingers at the camera

Marco Mancini, 34

“In terms of doing something or doing nothing, I feel like it’s better than nothing, but I mean, nobody really knows what the answer is yet. So, if you have more people on the busses, I’d imagine it might spread around a little faster, who knows. Generally speaking, [the busses are] not as full as they used to be, obviously. It’s not as bad as it could be.”

Photo of Patrick Grimsley, waiting for a bus, wearing a face mask with one headphone in

Patrick Grimsley, 25

“[Since] a bus [is] a confined, small enclosed space, I do feel safer knowing that the majority of people seem to be taking this seriously and actually putting on a mask and taking public transportation. I think I have more of an issue of people who don’t follow the guidelines, so either wearing the mask incorrectly or not wearing one at all.”

. . .

Children under the age of two and people with disabilities or medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask are not required to wear cloth masks or face coverings.

OC Transpo front-line and operational staff were at busy stations answering questions and distributing masks. They observed that most riders wore cloth masks and did not report any major issues, said Pat Scrimgeour, Director of Transit Customer Systems and Planning.

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