COVID-19COVID-19 - VIA Metropolitan Transit

COVID-19

COVID-19

We’re Making Your Safety
Our Priority

The health and safety of our customers and staff is our top priority. Stay informed about VIA’s response to COVID-19 and how we’re working to maintain service in a safe environment.

Latest Information

  • 03/31/2020: VIA Moving to ‘Saturday’ Schedules, Extending Fare Relief Period Beginning April 6

    Image: Temporary Service Changes GraphicAs more San Antonians and neighbors in our region remain at home under shelter-in-place orders, VIA plans to implement temporary service adjustments that reflect current ridership demand for bus service.

    While VIA ridership has declined during the past several weeks, we remain committed to providing essential service for riders who rely on public transportation to get to work, obtain food and supplies, or help care for others. We will continue to expand our cleaning program, using EPA-approved, hospital-grade disinfectant, for vehicles and facilities, while taking additional steps to help protect employees and customers.

     

    TEMPORARY SERVICE ADJUSTMENTS EFFECTIVE APRIL 6, 2020

    To continue providing travel options while adjusting to changing conditions, VIA will implement the following temporary service adjustments, beginning Monday, April 6, 2020, to include some reduced service hours and routes.

    • Under the adjusted schedules, all VIA bus routes will be on “Saturday” schedules Monday-Friday.
    • Routes will run their regular weekend schedules on Saturdays and Sundays.
    • VIAtrans and VIA Link will continue to operate normally.
    • Express Routes 6, 7, and 48 will run on the adjusted schedule.
    • Routes 4, 97, and 616 will have minor changes
    • Routes 16 and 65 will not operate due to Joint Base San Antonio restrictions.
    • Routes 30, 36, 42, and 515 will no longer serve the extended segments of the routes.
    • VIVA Routes 11, 40 and 301 will not operate.

    These adjustments will remain in effect until further notice.

    FARE RELIEF PERIOD EXTENDED THROUGH APRIL 30, 2020

    On March 21, VIA implemented a fare relief period to protect our operators and customers from close physical proximity while we are encouraging social distancing and help support many community members who use our services to perform essential tasks and duties. We are extending this period for VIA bus, VIAtrans and VIA Link services through April 30. Only essential trips, outlined in the “Stay Home, Work Safe” order should be made during this time.

    SOME SEATS REMOVED OR LOCKED FOR SAFER DISTANCING

    Riders may also notice some seats on buses and vans are closed to help keep a safe distance between operators and passengers, in accordance with social distancing guidelines. Passengers are asked to find a seat behind this section and maintain at least 6 feet of space between themselves and the person next to them whenever possible.

    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 6. For assistance planning trips, call our customer care line at (210) 362-2020.

  • 03/24/2020: VIA Continues to Run Essential Service in a Safe Environment

    “Stay Home, Work Safe” Order Includes VIA as Essential Service Provider

    VIA will continue to provide essential service in a safe environment while we assess the immediate and long-term effects of the shelter-in-place order for San Antonio and Bexar County. We will determine if service changes or possible reductions will be needed in the coming days, based on several factors including ridership, and employee and customer safety.

    In the past two weeks, as business and other public activities began to slow down, we have seen ridership levels down by nearly 30 percent, making buses and vans less crowded and thus safer for those who must continue to travel to work, food distribution centers, and other necessary trips.

    We are urging customers to limit their travel to essential trips, as defined in the “Stay Home, Work Safe” proclamation effective at 11:59 PM on Tuesday, March 24, to include for example, health and safety activities, obtaining food, medical supplies or medication, obtaining supplies needed to work from home, obtaining necessary services, to perform work for an exempted business, or to otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted in the order.

    Long-standing and newly implemented health and safety practices, and social distancing, will remain central to our operation as part of our city’s critical infrastructure. Current measures include:

    • additional cleaning and disinfecting of vehicles and facilities
    • sanitizing supplies and protective gloves provided to our operators
    • removal or limited access to the seats closest to the driver’s seat on buses
    • fare suspension to limit interactions when boarding
    • information and instructions for safe travel, and other measures

    Per the City and County’s order, those who feel ill, are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, coughing, shortness of breath), or have come into close contact with someone who has, must avoid public spaces, including public transit, and alert their physician or a public health professional. VIA employees have been asked to alert their supervisor if they feel sick or have come into close contact with someone who has displayed symptoms.

    VIA’s staff who can perform their duties remotely have been asked to do so. More will begin working remotely, following the shelter-in-place order to limit interaction and promote social distancing.

    To date, about a dozen VIA operators have been screened at the pre-approved testing center since being included among first responders and health professionals who could be tested there.

    As of Monday, March 23, no VIA employee or operator has tested positive for COVID-19. We will continue to stress monitoring, self-reporting, and social distancing for all our employees in order to help keep our staff and community safe.

    Jeffrey C. Arndt VIA President/CEO

  • 03/23/2020: COVID-19: PREVENTION TIPS / CONSEJOS DE PREVENCIÓN

    City of San Antonio: To help prevent the spread of infection, wash your hands often and avoid close contact with people who are sick. Remember to stay home if you’re feeling sick, always cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

    Ciudad de San Antonio: Para prevenir la propagación de infección, lávese las manos con frecuencia y evite el contacto cercano con las personas enfermas. Quedese en casa si se siente mal, cubrir siempre la tos o estornudar en el brazo, y desinfecten objetos y superficies tocados con frecuencia.

  • 03/20/2020: VIA Fare Relief Period Begins Saturday, March 21

    Fare relief period will minimize interactions, help protect passengers and operators

    STATEMENT FROM VIA PRESIDENT/CEO JEFFREY C. ARNDT

    VIA will implement a systemwide fare relief period for all VIA fixed-route bus service, VIAtrans trips, and VIA Link on-demand services, beginning Saturday, March 21, 2020. All fares will be suspended through 1 a.m. on April 1. At the end of the period, we will evaluate and provide an update for moving ahead.

    This is one of several measures we are implementing to meet our goal of maintaining essential service in a safe environment, providing some social distancing for our operators, and offering some relief for those in our community who have been impacted by recent events related to COVID-19 (coronavirus).

    We realize that public transit is a necessity for many in our community every day and perhaps especially during a crisis, including those whose work is essential during emergencies, or who may rely on transit as their only means of travel to workplaces, meal distribution sites, critical service centers, or other necessary trips.

    VIA operators, maintenance, safety and customer care teams have been hard at work to keep our customers moving in a clean and safe environment. I thank them and commend them for their dedication, professionalism and valor during these unprecedented times.

    In keeping with local, state and federal public health emergency guidelines and restrictions, VIA is taking this additional step to help minimize in-person interactions when boarding a VIA bus or van. Fare-free service eliminates the need for passengers to use the farebox, speeds boarding and minimizes crowding at the front door.

    We urge everyone to continue practicing good hygiene to help slow the spread of germs, including washing their hands frequently, sneezing or coughing into their arm, and avoiding public places if they are ill. Our customers and employees are asked to practice social distancing, which could mean staying at least 6 feet away from your neighbor when aboard the bus or in any other public space or avoiding unnecessary travel.

    In the coming days, VIA will continue to monitor developments and utilize every available resource to help secure the health and safety of riders, the public, and transit employees.

  • 03/20/2020: VIA'S MARCH BOARD MEETING CANCELED

    Out of an abundance of caution and in keeping with recommended social distancing guidelines and requirements, VIA has canceled the March 24, 2020, meeting of the Advanced Transportation District and VIA Board of Trustees.

  • 03/18/2020: VIA TAKING STEPS TO KEEP BUSES, VANS, FACILITIES CLEAN

    COVID-19We are continuing our enhanced daily cleaning schedule for buses, vans and facilities, using disinfectant for high-traffic areas and surfaces. We began implementing additional steps on March 5, including extra cleaning and detailing of vehicles and facilities, with special attention to high-touch areas like poles and handrails, straps, handles and stop request buttons.
    The health and safety of our VIA family remains a top priority. We continue to maintain safe, clean work environments. All staff are being encouraged to stay home if they feel sick. VIA’s leadership team is working together to support our employees and keep them informed of developments.

    Simple, effective safety messages developed by the Centers for Disease Control were added to common areas in our offices, customer service areas and bathrooms in our public facilities, and aboard our vehicles. We also shared these messages with employees and customers on our website and social media channels.

    Employees and customers are encouraged to practice regular hand washing, use hand sanitizer between washing, avoid touching their face, and cough or sneeze into their arm to help stop the spread of germs. Hand sanitizer and wipes are available for our bus and van operators, and hand sanitizing stations are set up at our office buildings and facilities. We have asked our employees and customers to stay home if they feel sick and to follow guidelines from local health officials.

    WORKING AS A TEAM

    We activated an internal task force to continually assess developments and determine next necessary steps to continue to keep our community safe. Our senior leadership team has met daily with safety and operations staff to prepare and address the rapidly changing situation.

    We are in constant contact with local, state and federal emergency response officials as well as transit industry partners throughout Texas and nationally, to ensure we’re monitoring impact and collaborating on best practices.

    We’re working closely with City and County officials and following their guidance on recent developments for COVID-19, which include social distancing measures for our employees, avoiding large gatherings, and minimizing or avoiding contact with anyone displaying symptoms of respiratory illness whenever possible.

    BOOKING A TRIP

    Everyone is encouraged to use the VIA goMobile app when planning and booking a trip. The free app is available on Apple and Android smart phones. It can be used to pay fares before boarding, which can cut down on interactions like exchanging money or swiping fare cards. Limiting in-person interactions as much as possible is recommended by health officials to help stop the spread of germs.

    RIDING WITH VIA

    You should have confidence that when you ride with VIA, the buses, vans and transit facilities are being kept as clean as possible with daily sanitizing and disinfecting. There are some things you can do to help keep a safe environment for everyone:

    • Persons who feel ill or have been in contact with someone who has displayed symptoms of respiratory illness, like fever or coughing, are asked to avoid public places, including public transit, and contact their physician.

    • Practice “social distancing.” That means avoiding unnecessary trips and, whenever possible, leave at least 6 feet between you and your neighbor while out in public.

    • Cough or sneeze into your arm and avoid touching your face unnecessarily.

      Image: VIA Bus on Road

    • If you must travel, please wash your hands often. Our transit facilities offer restroom facilitieswith hand-washing stations and most are equipped with hand-sanitizing stations for use between washing. If soap or sanitizer supplies are running low, please alert a transit center customer service representative.

    CONTINUING SERVICE

    We are following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, State, City and County leaders. There is currently no significant impact to VIA operations.

    VIA will continue to analyze its operations and consider possible modification of services with guidance from City and County officials and the impact of personnel availability. We have developed continuity of operations plans. Should there be a need to modify service or fare policies we will share these updates on our website, send to local media and publish to our VIA news alert subscribers. To sign up for alerts, please visit VIAinfo.net.

    As always, we appreciate your patience and support as we continue to serve our community.

  • 03/12/2020: CDC Information - Stopping the Spread of Germs

    Here are some helpful graphics from the CDC (click to see full size):

    Image: CDC Stop Germs GraphicImage: CDC Wash Hands Graphic

  • 03/08/2020: Message from President and CEO Jeff Arndt

    Image: VIA President and CEO Jeff Arndt
    For more than 40 years, VIA has served San Antonio and Bexar County with the daily goal of connecting our community with safe, reliable public transit. Because VIA is the primary source of transportation for many in our community, we are maintaining service and providing a safe environment for customers and employees, while addressing recent public health concerns.

    Our thoughts are with those who are being affected by this unprecedented event. We are especially proud of our VIA family and grateful to VIA bus and van operators, maintenance crews, transit center support, and safety and security teams, who are on the front line daily to keep us moving. We want to thank them for their dedicated service and thank our customers for putting their trust in VIA as we all adapt to these challenging times.

    We also appreciate the healthcare workers, public service providers, and local leaders who are working to contain the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Below is an update on what VIA is doing, with your safety at the top of mind, and what you can do to help.

    - Jeff Arndt, VIA President and CEO

  • 03/08/2020: VIA Stepping Up Its Cleaning Schedule for Buses and Facilities

    Vehicles and Transit Centers are being disinfected throughout the day

    Image: VIA Maintenance Staff cleaning Centro PlazaIn addition to cleaning buses daily at the end of every run, VIA Maintenance Staff has been stationed at Transit Centers, boarding and disinfecting buses while the vehicles are on their regular routes.

    In response to recent health concerns surrounding the spread of respiratory illnesses, VIA is taking extra precautions to ensure that vehicles and facilities are kept safe and clean for public use. While there have been no cases of COVID-19 (formerly known as coronavirus) linked to transit use in our region, and federal health officials maintain that the risk to the general public for contracting the virus remains low, protecting our passengers and employees is our top priority.

    We are in close contact with local, state, and national health authorities to monitor the situation and will provide updates as they become available. Out of an abundance of caution and care for our community, we have increased our standard, daily cleaning of buses, vans and facilities to include additional and more detailed disinfecting of restrooms, facilities, surfaces and seats.

    VIA has a rigorous cleaning program in place for our more than 500 buses and 140 vans, as well as our many Park & Ride facilities, transit centers, and office buildings. This daily process includes:

    • Every bus and van is cleaned and disinfected daily at the end of its run.
    • Transit Centers and Park & Ride facilities are cleaned daily, including floors, surfaces, handles, handrails, and other high-touch areas.
    • Restrooms are cleaned at least 3 times a day.
    • We use cleanser that sanitizes and disinfects surfaces, including seats, stations and rails on all vehicles and facilities.
    • The cleanser is formulated to kill germs that can cause illness.
    • VIA offices, customer service areas, Transit Centers and Park & Ride facilities are equipped with public hand sanitizing stations and operators are provided hand sanitizer to use between washing.
    • Helpful information about proper hand-washing techniques are posted throughout our offices and facilities, and on our web site.

    Beginning Thursday, March 5, we activated enhanced health and safety protocols to include all standard procedures listed above in addition to:

    • More frequent and detailed cleaning of buses and vans—including additional mid-day cleanings, and on-site spot cleanings at transit centers and other facilities.
    • Additional staffing dedicated to maintaining enhanced health and safety procedures.
    • Requiring compliance from our partners (MV Transportation and Yellow Cab) to implement enhanced cleaning protocols.

    VIA continues to encourage passengers to follow these simple, effective tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using an approved cleaning spray or wipe
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
    • Passengers who feel sick or are experiencing symptoms should stay home, avoid public places, and contact your physician.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is VIA stopping or reducing service?
    •  As more people stay home and practice social distancing, we have seen ridership decline.
    •  BEGINNING APRIL 6, we will implement temporary service adjustments that reflect the current ridership demand and help protect employees and customers.

    TEMPORARY SERVICE ADJUSTMENTS EFFECTIVE APRIL 6, 2020

    • VIA is will implement the following temporary service adjustments, beginning Monday, April 6, 2020, to include some reduced service hours and routes. These adjustments will remain in effect until further notice.
      • Under the adjusted schedules, most VIA bus routes will be on “Saturday” schedules Monday-Friday, with exceptions listed below.
      • Routes will run their regular weekend schedules on Saturdays and Sundays.
      • Express Routes 6, 7, and 48 will only run Mon.-Fri. on normal schedule. No service Sat.-Sun.
      • Routes 4, 30, 36, 42, 97, 515, and 616 will no longer serve the extended segments of the routes.
      • Route 25 will only serve the Royal View extension during peak hours.
      • Route 632 will not travel down Old Walzem from Glen Mont and will not serve The Glen and IDEA Walzem.
      • Routes 16 and 65 will not operate due to Joint Base San Antonio restrictions.
      • VIVA Routes 11, 40 and 301 will not operate.
    • VIAtrans and VIA Link service will not be affected.
    • We will continue to evaluate as the situation develops and alert the public of any changes.
    • ONLY essential travel should take place during this time, per the “Stay Home, Work Safe” order for San Antonio and Bexar County.

  • IS VIA EXTENDING THE FARE RELIEF PERIOD (FREE FARES)?
    • Yes. We are extending the free fare period through April 30

  • WHY IS VIA OFFERING FREE FARES NOW?
    • We are suspending fares for VIA bus, VIAtrans and VIA Link services so that customers don’t have to touch the farebox and/or interact with the driver when boarding. Faster boarding also minimizes crowding at the door.
    • This also offers some relief for those who still have to travel for work at essential businesses or services, to get food or supplies, or care for someone else.
    • We are NOT trying to raise ridership with free fares. Only necessary trips should be happening at this time. Ridership continues to decline as more people stay home, creating more opportunity for social distancing on-board vehicles.

  • If I purchased a pass before VIA fares were suspended, can I get a refund?
    • Please call our customer care line at (210) 362-2020 for questions about passes or refunds.

  • Where can I find information about what VIA is doing about COVID-19?
    • We’re posting regular updates to our website at VIAinfo.net/covid-19.
    • Our customer care team can help with specific questions about fares and service. Please call (210) 362-2020 for help.
    • You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter for alerts.
  • What does the “Stay Home, Work Safe” order FROM THE MAYOR and COUNTY JUDGE mean for VIA?
    • The “Stay Home, Work Safe” order to “shelter-in-place” for all persons living in San Antonio and Bexar County.
    • That means everyone is required to stay home, except for essential activities such as:
      • Getting food or medical supplies for themselves or their families
      • To care for a person or pet in another residence
      • Going to work to perform an essential or exempted activity, including:
        • Health workers
        • First responders
        • Restaurant workers
        • Transit workers
      • Other activities listed in the order.
    • The order lists VIA and public transit as an essential service.
    • You can learn more about the shelter-in-place on the City’s website at www.SanAntonio.gov.

  • If I feel sick, can I take VIA to go to the doctor or hospital?
    • No. If a person feels sick, they should not use public transit, per CDC guidelines.
    • Call your doctor or health care provider for instructions.
    • Visit the City’s website at www.SanAntonio.gov to take a self-screening test.
    • You can call the City’s COVID hotline at 210-207-5779, or email them questions at covid-19@sanantonio.gov.

  • What is VIA doing to help protect its employees?
    • VIA has stepped up its cleaning procedures for buses, vans and facilities. This includes daily cleaning—at the end of the run and throughout the day—with solution that kills germs that can cause illness.
    • We have removed or restricted access to the seats nearest to the driver’s seat on our vehicles. This helps reduce interaction and promote social distancing for passengers and operators.
    • Operators have access to hand sanitizer, wipes and gloves at the beginning of every shift.
    • VIA is urging all employees to help stop the spread of germs by following recommended steps like washing their hands often, coughing and sneezing into their arm, wiping down surfaces and staying home if they feel sick.
    • Hand sanitizing stations are set up at VIA offices and facilities to use in between hand washing.
    • Up-to-date information on how to stay healthy and safe is available to operators and employees online, in office areas, aboard buses, and at transit centers and Park & Ride facilities.
    • Employees who are able to perform their duties remotely have been asked to do so, in compliance with the City and County’s “shelter-in-place” order that requires people to stay home unless they absolutely must travel.
    • We have suspended fares and restricted access to the areas in front of the bus to reduce interaction and crowding close to the operator.

  • What is VIA doing to help protect its customers?
    • No local cases have been linked to the use of public transit services.
    • VIA continues to expand its cleaning procedures for buses, vans and facilities that include daily cleaning with solution designed to kill germs that cause illness.
    • We have removed or restricted access to several seats aboard buses to create an opportunity for social distancing, including the seats closest to the driver, and others throughout the bus.
    • We’ve extended our fare-relief period through April 30 to help minimize interaction and crowding when boarding. .

  • What can customers do to help stop the spread of germs?
    • Wash your hands frequently
    • Use hand sanitizer between washing
    • Cough and sneeze into their arm
    • avoid touching your face
    • ONLY TAKE ESSENTIAL TRIPS during this time. If you do not absolutely have to travel, stay home and avoid public spaces.
    • We have placed hand sanitizing stations at our offices and facilities for customers to use.
    • We have also updated the information available on our website, aboard our buses, and at our transit centers and Park & Ride facilities to ensure customers can stay informed.

  • How often are buses / facilities cleaned?
    • VIA vehicles and facilities are cleaned daily.
    • We have stepped up our cleaning and disinfecting routine to include additional cleaning during the day, as well as overnight.
    • This includes detailing of high-traffic areas aboard the vehicle like handles, rails, straps and seats.

  • What does VIA use to clean buses and facilities?
    • VIA uses an EPA-approved, hospital-grade disinfectant to help kill germs that cause illnesses like flu and coronavirus.

RESOURCES

Below are some helpful links to guide you.