For the second time in a week, Carson’s mayor and City Council Thursday called for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation 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 late Thursday morning that the agency has no plans to cease operations at this time.
“Because Metro is a critical entity for Southern California’s health, business and civic infrastructure, we are committed to continuing our operations to ensure that public transportation remains available for first-responders, healthcare workers and other key members of the workforce who need to move across Los Angeles County,” Sotero said. “Metro is still carrying approximately 300,000 people per day — that’s how many essential workers rely on the service.”
Sotero said Metro has “strengthened” its cleaning of buses, trains and at Union Station as well as other major transit hubs, which includes increased cleaning of high-touch areas such as handrails, elevator call buttons and ticket vending machines.
He said Metro is reviewing its cleaning protocols on a daily basis to ensure that they are up-to-date as the situation evolves.
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.
“We are doing everything possible to maintain a healthy and safe system for our customers who rely heavily on Metro buses and trains as their lifeline to get where they need to go through Los Angeles County,” Sotero said. “Metro will continue to provide service as long as we possibly can.”
Metrolink is operating at reduced service, but its train service is continuing.