VANCOUVER -- A new petition is calling on TransLink to "do better" by making facemasks mandatory on public transit.

About 450 people have signed the petition urging stricter pandemic safety measures on buses and SkyTrains, with some arguing the current policy of merely recommending masks puts riders at unnecessary risk.

"We should NOT have to feel unsafe using an essential service," wrote Kelsey Rae, who started the petition.

Those concerns are even more pressing, for some, given B.C.'s surging COVID-19 caseload, and in light of Monday's warning from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry that the province could see "explosive growth" in infections if people aren't careful.

"The community needs to feel safe," one signatory wrote. "Cases are on the rise again in B.C. and the window to help flatten the curve is vanishing, as people are not taking it seriously enough."

Last month, TransLink launched a campaign to encourage mask-use with the slogan "Wearing is Caring," and distributed free masks to riders at a number of stations.

But the transit provider has been hesitant to impose a mandatory mask policy, arguing other jurisdictions that have done so have been unable to effectively enforce it.

On Tuesday, spokesperson Jill Drews told CTV News is in a "holding pattern on the mask issue."

"TransLInk is recommending customers wear a non-medical face covering while on transit or waiting for transit, given physical distancing is not always possible. This recommendation is consistent with British Columbia's approach toward mask and face covering use," she wrote in an email.

The recommendation only applies to people who are able to wear a mask, Drews added.

The TransLink spokesperson also pointed to a recent statement by Dr. Henry where she argued against enforcing mandatory mask policies.

"We just do not want to go there," the provincial health officer said.

To view the TransLink petition, visit the website.