For the second time in a week, Carson’s mayor and City Council Thursday called for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority to temporarily suspend its mass transit services to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are in the midst of a health emergency that is unprecedented and dealing with a virus that is unpredictable, and we can’t afford to create opportunities for this virus to spread,” Mayor Albert Robles said. “We are particularly concerned about senior citizens, economically disadvantaged individuals and the racial/ethnic minority communities that make up the greatest number of riders on the Los Angeles Metro system.”
The city of Carson suspended all of its municipal bus service on Saturday — with the exception of Dial-A-Ride or ACCESS Paratransit services — due to the coronavirus, and the mayor called on other transit agencies to do the same during a meeting last Thursday.
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.
Robles said unless Metro can ensure every passenger will be safe from the coronavirus, which he said is “impossible,” services should be shut down.
“I would rather say `sorry for the inconvenience,’ than `sorry for your loss,”’ the mayor said.
Robles said he recognizes that halting bus service will affect people who rely on it as their only source of transportation, but “the concern for the public health and safety of everyone, including all the bus riders, clearly outweighs the inconvenience this may cause some.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who sits on the Metro Board of Directors, has said 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 last week that the agency had 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 is operating at reduced service, but its train service is continuing.
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