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More Public Transit Agencies Begin Rear-Door Boarding, Cut Service And Waive Fares

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The 217 Metro bus lets off a single passenger in front of the Hollywood/Vine Station in Hollywood. Metro buses continue to operate during the stay-at-home orders, but the agency is urging its system only be used by "essential workers, and those who need t
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Public transit in greater Los Angeles is still moving — though dramatically fewer people are being moved and service on a growing number of systems is being cut.

Roughly 50-60% of L.A. Metro’s daily riders have stopped riding, CEO Phillip Washington said in a press briefing last week. The county agency’s trains are taking the biggest hit. Average weekday boarding has fallen about 66% as of last Wednesday, spokesman Rick Jager told LAist. Bus ridership is down roughly 53% with that same metric and time period.

And with so many businesses closed and so many county residents staying home (and not shopping like they used to) Washington said Metro will take a “massive hit” in lost sales tax revenue, which is a major source of its funding.

As a result, bus and rail service is being cut. Riders should check Metro's service advisory webpage and rider alerts Twitter feed for possible changes.

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Metro has also moved to rear-door boarding for all its buses (riders who need wheelchair ramp access can still use the front door) and is requiring drivers to keep the transparent barrier up front closed as a layer of protection. Metro’s custodial staff is now disinfecting touch points at all rail stations — along with all Orange Line and Harbor Transitway stations — three times per day, Jager said.

Agency leaders have been in talks with both the state and federal governments about receiving emergency funds to keep its trains and buses moving for the people who depend on it.

Here’s the latest on other municipal transit agencies throughout L.A. County:

  • All city of Los Angeles transit services — managed by LADOT — remain operational. That includes DASH and Commuter Express buses, along with senior and on-demand shuttle services (but not Blue LA electric car-sharing). But as of today, March 23, LADOT has issued some “modifications” to DASH service in downtown Los Angeles (aka fewer buses running and service ending earlier than normal). The full modified schedule can be found here. LADOT also announced it was waiving fares on all its bus routes, which also started today. As of mid-March, ridership on the agency's buses have seen a "significant week-over-week decline," spokesman Colin Sweeney told LAist this week, "ranging from 3% on some lines to 30% on others." To maintain social distancing and protect both bus drivers and passengers, riders are being asked to board using the rear doors only — unless they need wheelchair ramp access at the front door.
  • Foothill Transit officials said its ridership has fallen by more than half as the COVID-19 crisis continues. The agency started reducing its service Monday and stopped running roughly a dozen of its bus lines. The full list can be viewed here. Bus boarding is now rear-door only — except for riders who need to use the front door ramp — and the agency is not collecting fares right now "in order to maintain proper social distancing."
  • The Antelope Valley Transit Authority has cut maximum occupancy on its buses by 50%. On Monday, it moved to a “reduced Saturday Schedule” Monday through Sunday.
  • Big Blue Bus, operated by the city of Santa Monica, has halted service on a few of its lines to "ensure continuity of operations and match ridership demand." The agency has also moved to rear-door boarding and is not enforcing fare collection.
  • Culver CityBus is waiving fares for riders. The agency is also asking riders to board using the rear door to limit contact with bus drivers, though front door boarding is still happening for riders with mobility needs. Certain bus lines are running on Saturday service timelines through the week.
  • Both Pasadena Transit's buses and its on-demand shuttle service for seniors and people with disabilities remain in service and the city has waived fares.
  • Bus services in the cities of Glendale and Burbank are also operating as normal. “We are closely monitoring the current situation and are vigorously cleaning buses, stations, and facilities on a frequent basis, and will continue to review and update cleaning protocols as needed,” Glendale spokeswoman Eliza Papzian told LAist last week.
  • Santa Clarita Transit continues to operate on its normal schedule, according to the latest update on its website. The city has increased cleaning on common touch points.

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