As residents were ordered to stay home and minimize travel in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, TriMet kept its buses and trains moving for people who need transit for essential jobs, vital services or trips to the grocery store. Now in order to promote greater safety for riders and operators, TriMet says it will limit the number of riders on buses to promote social distancing.
The new policy will allow no more than 10-15 riders on a bus at one time (10 individual, or up to 15 if people are riding together such as couples or parents with children). TriMet says this is a temporary adjustment. By keeping the amount of riders on board low enough, the bus should provide room to space riders away from others and the operator.
If there appears to be more than 10 to 15 people on board, the bus operator will ask riders at a stop to wait for the next bus, officials said. Signs will be posted at some of the busier bus stops letting riders know about the limit.
Riders are encouraged to plan extra time for trips in case they need to wait. The operator will alert TriMet’s Operations Control Center if the bus is at capacity. TriMet staff will monitor how bus lines are operating and may make adjustments if they see long wait times.
“We appreciate our riders’ patience and understanding as we try to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep everyone healthy. In addition, once again, TriMet asks those who don’t have an urgent need to ride at this time, to leave the seats for those who do,” officials said.
The transit agency has also moved the yellow line that riders should stand behind back so it is 6 feet from the operator. Signs being posted on MAX and WES trains also encourage riders to keep 6 feet of distance from others.
TriMet also reminds riders that temporary service reductions go into effect Sunday, April 5 because of a massive drop in ridership. TriMet is also seeing a decrease in the number of operators who are available with many out on leave, whether due to children at home with schools closed, taking leave for illness or self-quarantine, being among the high-risk group for COVID-19 or other reasons.
TriMet says weekly ridership is down more than 63% from its February weekly average.
Additional efforts to keep TriMet riders and operators safe during the COVID-19 outbreak include nightly disinfecting of buses, MAX trains, WES trains and LIFT paratransit vehicles; daily disinfecting of main touchpoints at rail stations and transit centers; as possible based on staffing, disinfecting main touchpoints on some MAX trains throughout the day; temporarily suspending cash payments on buses; and activating TriMet’s Emergency Operations Center for elevated agency-wide coordination.
TriMet says it recognizes that the service reductions and restrictions may make it more difficult for those who must ride at this time.
“However, these steps will help our community get through this challenge, so TriMet can get back to serving all our riders as soon as possible,” officials said. Follow updates at trimet.org/health.