Starting next week you will be required to wear a mask or other face covering if you're hopping on a ROAM bus to head out to the mountains. 

Martin Bean, CAO of Bow Valley Regional Transit Services Commission says this new protocol will be in effect starting on Monday, July 13. 

"The option is for people to use masks or face coverings of different types. Homemade masks or cloth face coverings like scarves or bandanas etc."

This follows suit to safety measures set out by Alberta Health Services which recommends the use of face coverings in areas where you can't keep two metres of separation.

Bean says they've been instilling strict safety protocols on the buses because of COVID-19 for a few months now. 

"Since March when we began operating in the pandemic conditions we've put in various measures and the latest we have are plexi shields to protect our drivers and they're always behind the shield. If they come out from behind that shield, then they wear a mask or a face shield."

Bean says there will be a grace period initially where they will have some masks on hand if you forget to bring one. 

"We will be handing out masks that we're getting from the province. They're not going to be available all of the time but at various times throughout the day we'll be handing out masks and we'll have a small supply on our buses as well. I think as we move through this more people will have their own mask with them or face coverings of some type."

Bean says they've limited ridership at 60 per cent capacity and they sanitize the buses throughout the day and clean high touch surfaces regularly.

Here in Cochrane, COLT Transit Coordinator Devin LeFleche says they've been working hard to keep drivers and riders safe by focusing on cleaning and making sure there's lots of distance between riders.   

"We still have the enhanced cleaning that we have our drivers do. So they're doing an enhanced level of cleaning, high touch surfaces. We also have limited the capacity on the buses, we've set the max capacity at six just to maintain that two metres of distance between passengers."

LeFleche says wearing a mask or a face covering isn't mandatory but it is encouraged.

"We do also have the province and they're going to provide the town with 10,000 masks to start for free.We're going to look at distributing those on COLT, so people have the option to take those, it'll hopefully help people feel like they can be social but safe at the same time out in the community."

COLT has been offering free rides for the past few months during the pandemic but starting Aug. 1 you will need to pay to ride again.