VICTORIA -- Public transit in Greater Victoria will be free later this week as BC Transit recognizes Earth Day and encourages commuters to leave their personal vehicles parked.

Earth Day is an international event that raises awareness about climate change and the steps people can take to help mitigate it.

This year, the annual event will take place on Thursday, April 22. For the entire day, BC Transit will be offering free rides in Greater Victoria, including aboard its handyDART buses.

"Earth Day helps shine a spotlight on the importance of sustainability and encourages people to make choices that will help protect our environment," said BC Transit in a release Monday.

"Choosing transit instead of driving is one easy way to take action. It not only helps to ease traffic congestion, but also decreases greenhouse emissions by reducing the number of vehicles on the road," said the company.

BC Transit is reminding riders that face masks are mandatory aboard all buses during the COVID-19 pandemic.