Missouri transit agencies are changing their day to day operations to help combat the outbreak of COVID-19. Agencies are going beyond taking measures to increase cleaning and sanitation procedures of vehicles and high-touch surfaces, by employing new strategies to accommodate social distancing and decrease the virus’s spread.
OATS Transit and SMTS, Inc., collectively serve more than 100 counties in Missouri and will both be reducing service essential service trips. Essential Service transportation is defined as dialysis, doctor appointments, grocery shopping, food banks, etc. The full announcement from OATS can be found here and the full announcement from SMTS is available here.
“On the start of service on Friday, March 20, 2020, SMTS, Inc. will be moving to an “Essential Operations” service plan,” said Denny Ward, SMTS, Inc. Executive Director. “This decision has been made in accordance with recommendations and guidelines passed down from local Health Departments and the Center for Disease Controls. We will resume normal operations as these bands are lifted and businesses are re-opened.”
“This is a difficult decision and one we are not taking lightly, but it is the right thing to do during this national crisis,” said Dorothy Yeager Executive Director of OATS Transit.
Other transit providers have also switched to essential service trips including Ray County Transportation, Inc.
Meanwhile, in Jefferson City, JEFFTRAN has temporarily suspended fixed-route fares in order to promote social distancing and decrease the risk of infection through cash handling. Kansas City Transit Authority has done the same and has temporarily made scooter and bike-share fare-free as well.
St. Louis Metro Transit is making several adjustments to transit services and operations for the safety of transit riders and Metro employees including operating a modified weekend schedule during weekdays until further notice. In addition, Metro is temporarily waiving fare enforcement of cash fares on MetroBus and Metro Call-A-Ride. Fare enforcement will continue on MetroLink.
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