Cold Lake’s buses will be returning to their regular schedule pre-COVID 19, but not everything is going back to the way it was.
In a press release, the City outlined its public transit plans moving forward, which includes physical distancing of two metres and regular sanitization of high-touch areas.
“We have seen an impact on ridership due to COVID-19,” said Mayor Craig Copeland. “Though this was expected, there are still a lot of people who rely on transit to get them to and from work and shopping areas, like grocery stores.”
The return to regular hours will start on Monday.
Buses will operate Monday to Friday from 7:00am-9:00pm, while Saturday service will return and run from 9:00am-9:00 pm. There will be no services on Sundays or stat holidays save for Canada Day and Remembrance Day.
Ridership dropped 73 per cent from March 16 to April 20 of this year to 2019–since April 1 city documents show an average of 122 riders per day compared to 549 last year.
With physical distancing measures still in place, the maximum number of riders will fluctuate between 12 and 15.
This exception exists for families travelling together.
“With businesses opening up, we hope that this will support the local economy, assisting employees on their way to and from work as well as the general public who require this service to get around the community,” said Copeland.
Signage is placed throughout the bus to help riders determine appropriate distancing from other passengers.
The move was debated amongst city councillors, with some in favour of removing restrictions altogether to better accommodate families and the elderly, however concerns regarding incoming tourists during the summer quelled any discussions on opening the busses entirely.
Council will revisit the issue once schools restart in the fall.
Ridership has been at an all-time low since quarantine measures sprung up, though with restrictions being relaxed, coupled with the summer weather, ridership is expected to increase.