The city of Carson will suspend all of its municipal bus service on Saturday due to the coronavirus, and the mayor called on other transit agencies to do the same.
The decision is a departure from other major transit systems in the Southland, which have continued operating, albeit with reduced service and some amended procedures, such as requiring passengers to board buses through rear doors to limit contact with drivers.
“It is with a heavy heart that we have to make this decision, but it is necessary, and I implore the state and the L.A. County Metro board to join Carson in making the right decision and suspend all mass transit throughout the county in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus,” Carson Mayor Albert Robles said. “It makes no sense that while experts say mass transit is a main vehicle for the spread of the virus that L.A. Metro continues to operate, because merely reducing the bus schedules is not enough, as all mass transit needs to be suspended immediately in order for our efforts at limiting the coronavirus pandemic to be successful.”
Robles said he recognizes that halting bus service will have an impact on people who rely on it as they only source of transportation, including senior citizens, but “the concern for the public health and safety of everyone, including all the bus riders, clearly outweighs the inconvenience this may cause some.”
Carson’s decision will not affect Dial-A-Ride or ACCESS Paratransit services.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who sits on the Metro Board of Directors, has insisted previously that Metro buses would keep running to ensure residents without any other form of transportation are able to access services, including grocery stores.
Metro spokesman Dave Sotero told City News Service the agency has no plans to cease operations.
“We consider our service a lifeline to thousands in the most populous county of America,” he said. “The people who depend on our service include first responders, hospital workers and essential city and county employees. We will continue to work hard to ensure that our system remains as safe and clean as possible. Public transportation is considered an essential activity as specified in the Safer at Home emergency order. The emergency order stipulates that public transit should be used for essential travel only. Riders should maintain at least six feet of distance from others.”
Metro has reduced service on its bus lines by 15% to 20%, depending on the route, while requiring all riders to board and exit through rear doors only, with the front door reserved only for wheelchair users who need to use the bus ramp.
The transit agency has also installed sanitation stations and hand-sanitizer dispensers at major transit stops, while also increase cleaning efforts at Union Station and other transit hubs.
Metrolink officials also began operating at reduced service levels this week, but its train service is continuing.
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