VICTORIA -- BC Transit is launching a new contest and awareness campaign to help encourage the use of masks while aboard buses during the COVID-19 pandemic

While wearing masks is not mandatory in B.C., provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said that people should wear masks when in situations where physical distancing is difficult, like on public transit.

BC Transit is now planning to unroll an eight-week “Together We Ride” campaign that will encourage using masks through television commercials, social media ads, print advertisements and bus signage.

BC Transit is also launching a contest to encourage good “bus etiquette” which includes eight different prizes, like custom running shoes and a one-year transit pass.

The contest will begin on July 27, and one winner will be announced at the beginning of each week of the Together We Ride campaign.

Details on the competition will be released on BC Transit’s website in the coming days.

“Although the wearing of face coverings is not currently mandatory, it can help promote a more comfortable transit experience for all as select sectors open up and people gradually return to engaging in some of the activities they did prior to the start of the pandemic,” said BC Transit in a release Monday.

On Monday morning, BC Transit handed out free branded masks to Victoria bus riders to help encourage the use of face coverings while aboard buses.