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Mass transit in a time of need: MCTS to suspend fare collection for bus rides from March 28

The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) announced on March 26 the additional steps it was taking to help protect employees and the general public during the ongoing Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Bus drivers are committed to keeping the system running, and the community needs to commit to keeping bus drivers safe and healthy so that they can do this important job. Starting at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 28, 2020, MCTS is suspending fare collection and informing riders that they must enter and exit the bus through the rear door only, unless they need assistance with a mobility device or other ADA accommodation. Suspending fare collection limits the interaction between riders and bus drivers.

“While Congress works to create a new Federal Transit Administration grant program to help transit systems sustain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, MCTS is doing its part to help ensure continuation of mass transit in Milwaukee County in this time of need,” said Dan Boehm, MCTS Managing Director.

MCTS has been committed to keeping employees and passengers safe. Some of the steps it has taken since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic earlier this month include:

  • MCTS implemented an extra daily disinfection process on all buses using EPA-approved and CDC-recommended cleaning products. That is in addition to the standard cleaning that vehicles receive on a regular basis.
  • MCTS encouraged riders to limit non-essential travel on MCTS buses, use contactless fare payments (M-CARD or app) rather than paying cash, and exit through the back door to limit the time that passengers are near the driver’s compartment.
  • MCTS reminded passengers that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises anyone with fever, cough or shortness of breath to not go out in public, and to not take public transportation.
  • MCTS reduced the level of weekday bus service, so fewer bus drivers would be required on the road at any given time.
  • MCTS provided disinfectant solutions and cleaning cloths to bus drivers to ensure that they can clean their workspace throughout the day. There is a global shortage for common supplies, like gloves, sanitizing wipes and sanitizing gels. As these items become available, they are distributed to workers.
  • MCTS uses all available communication channels to inform employees and the general public of steps they can take to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing.

Public transportation is considered “essential infrastructure” by federal, state, and local officials. To prevent community spread of COVID-19, health officials and MCTS are asking anyone who uses public transportation during the current health emergency to limit non-essential travel, leave at least six feet of space between themselves and others -including bus drivers, and follow proper hygiene recommendations like washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes.

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Lee Matz

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