New changes preserve transit service for essential workers amid COVID developments
VIA Metropolitan Transit will begin operating on an “Essential Service” schedule Monday, April 27, which maintains or improves current schedules for routes that continue to see high ridership and adjusts others based on changing conditions such as lower demand and available resources.
The new schedule is designed to preserve “essential service” for those who must travel for work at an exempted business or operation, obtain food and supplies, or help care for others. Several routes will move to “Sunday” schedules on Monday with some exceptions, including additional frequency on select routes that continue to be highly utilized. Please reference Essential Service chart to see how specific routes are affected.
As ridership declines nationwide and staffing levels fluctuate, VIA is looking for ways to continue operating safely for those who need it most, while accounting for COVID-19-related factors impacting ridership and staffing levels. VIA has seen about 45 percent fewer riders compared to this time last year. And about 150 VIA operators and other essential staff are on Emergency Family Medical Leave (EFMLA), which allows employees to take leave in order to care for loved ones at home. The new service changes account for these and other factors.
Routes moved to “Saturday” schedule on April 6, running at about 80 percent of pre-COVID19- levels, in response to ridership dropping. The agency set a safe capacity limit of 16 passengers per trip, about half-full bus loads, to allow for social distancing on April 8. Monday’s changes represent an additional 4-percent reduction to current service levels to adjust for available staff.
Riders are reminded to only make essential trips during this time, and observe the city’s “Stay Home, Work Safe” order that requires residents in the area to shelter in place and help slow the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing and wearing a face covering in public.
Summary of Changes
The following changes for VIA’s fixed-route bus service will go into effect Monday, April 27, 2020, and will continue until further notice. These adjustments are in addition to the five routes suspended since April 6
- Most VIA routes (52 of 92) will be on “Sunday” Schedule with exception is listed on Routes Table.
- Routes, extensions, or branches that do not normally run on Sunday will not operate unless an exception is listed.
- 14 routes that have maintained high ridership and provide many essential trips.
- 11 routes that will operate on a Sunday Service schedule during the bulk of the day but with expanded morning hours.
- 5 routes that will maintain service, but at a less frequent schedule.
- 5 routes that are experiencing extremely low ridership and have alternative transit service available from other routes
- Weekday schedules in operation have been modified to accommodate early trips.
- No changes to VIAtrans and VIAlink service.
Updates on VIA’s response to COVID-19 and related service alerts are posted regularly to VIAinfo.net/covid-19. Customers can plan bus trips on the VIA goMobile app or on Google by entering a trip date starting April 27. For assistance planning trips, call our customer care line at (210) 362-2020.