RED DEER -- Residents will be able to board buses through the front door and front-of-bus fare collection will resume on Thursday.

In April, in response to COVID-19, transit users were only able to enter and exit buses through the rear doors. Furthermore, transit users who required a hydraulic loading ramp had to book Action Bus trips. However, with the resumption of front-door boarding, people with disabilities, who require the loading ramp, can resume conventional transit.

“The health and safety of all passengers and staff is, and remains, our first priority,” said Red Deer Transit Manager George Penny.

“We have been able to put other safety protocols into place over the last several weeks that allows us to resume more regular operations on our buses.”

Some of the measures include drivers wearing masks and/or face shields, increased sanitization on buses and at terminals, and every other seat in buses will continue to be blocked off to ensure physical distancing. Alberta Health Services also recommends that riders wear masks when using public transit.

Penny said, while there may be possible wait times, the city has overload buses that can be deployed out to any high traffic routes.

“We have electronic means to monitor how many passengers get on,” said Penny.

“When they [transit operators] believe that they’re getting to a higher capacity, they do phone into dispatch and we can put overload buses onto those routes that see a ridership increase.”

Starting July 6, there will be a priority booking system for Action Bus. Residents will be able to book their medical, work, and educational trips up to seven days ahead. All other trips will be able to be booked up to three days ahead. 

Transit Customer Service will remain open 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., and will be closed between 12 and 1 p.m.