OC Transpo ending free mask distribution July 31
A woman wears a face mask and gloves while riding public transit.
OTTAWA -- OC Transpo says it will stop giving disposable masks away to transit riders at the end of July.
Ottawa's transit service made the wearing of masks mandatory on all buses and trains and at all stations in mid-June because of the COVID-19 pandemic, though OC Transpo said no customer would be denied boarding if they were not wearing a mask.
When the policy came into effect, staff had 200,000 disposable masks available for riders who may have forgotten theirs. In a memo to council sent Friday, Transportation General Manager John Manconi said their supply of masks lasted well into July, as many customers already had masks of their own.
"Most customers now have their own masks and have become accustomed to wearing them when taking transit," Manconi said. "Masks are available in the community at many retail locations, through the Human Needs Taskforce, and the United Way had masks available for sale at many of our busier stations last week. As a result, July 31 will be the last day that free disposable masks will be available at OTrain and Transitway stations."
The masks were originally expected to last only one week, Manconi said.
Since the start of the mandatory mask rule on OC Transpo, Chief Safety Officer Brandon Richards says 210,000 masks have been given away.
"Additional mask supplies were ordered to continue the distribution to the end of this month and we expect to distribute approximately 280,00 masks by July 31," Richards said in an emailed statement to CTV News.
Richards estimates 90 to 95 per cent of all transit riders in July were wearing masks.
Masks are now mandatory in all enclosed public spaces in Ottawa, under a city bylaw, with exceptions for medical reasons.