Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Bay Area transit amid coronavirus: VTA, SamTrans, BART, AC Transit, and Caltrain updates

There are multiple updates from transportation services across the bay area amid the coronavirus pandemic. Transportation services are deemed essential in order to provide uninterrupted services to hospitals and more. The VTA, SamTrans, BART, AC Transit, and County Connection have all announced that the will suspend fare collection. Caltrain has made slight adjustments to its timetable, while the SFMTA has announced major changes to Muni services. Here are all the changes that every transport provider has announced.

Please note that even though services annonuce that they are regularly sanitizing surfaces, we advice you to avoid touching surfaces such as bars, handles, and doors. Sanitization doesn’t happen every few minutes.

VTA suspends light rail services, goes fare-free

Light rail services from the Santa Clara Valley Transport Authority (VTA) are suspended until further notice after a worker tested positive for the coronavirus, according to KRON4. The service was shut down Wednesday night, according to officials, during the time 6 trains were in operation. VTA operators are asked to stay at home and were told by officials that they will be notified if they need to be quarantined or tested. All VTA trains will be sanitized during this time. VTA officials also said that ridership decreased 82% since the “stay at home” order from Governor Newsom.

VTA buses are implementing rear-boarding practices, and is going fare-free during this time.

SamTrans is going fare-free

SamTrans announced last night that it will be implementing rear-boarding, in order to keep passengers as far away from drivers as possible. SamTrans also announced that it will be going fare-free, allowing complimentary rides during this difficult time. These measures are implemented by SamTrans to help promote social distancing. Buses are also regularly sanitized in compliance with EPA guidelines, and passengers are recommended to stay six feet apart.

SamTrans statement: “In an effort to comply with social distancing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, on Wednesday SamTrans will begin implementing rear-door boarding on buses with multiple doors in its fixed route service. ADA passengers and riders needing assistance will still be able to board through the front doors. Fare payment on these routes will not be required until further notice. SamTrans has experienced a 65-70% average weekday ridership loss.”

BART modifies timings

Bay Area Rapid Transit will continue to provide services amid the coronavirus pandemic, however the system has changed its timings.

  • Starting Monday, March 23, 2020, BART will provide service Monday-Friday from 5am-9pm (currently service is 5am-midnight). Current weekday train frequency will remain.
  • Starting Saturday March 28, 2020, Saturday and Sunday service will be from 8am-9pm (currently Saturday service is 6am-midnight and Sunday is 8am-midnight). Current weekend train frequency will remain.
  • All riders must be in the system by 8:45pm to have a guaranteed ride to their destination.
  • SFO is offering a free shuttle between some BART stations and the airport after 9pm.  Read the flyer for full details.

BART also says, “BART is working to prevent the spread of coronavirus by wiping down hand-contact surfaces with hospital-grade disinfectant more frequently each day. Please cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Thank You.”

AC Transit goes fare-free

The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District has gone fare-free, implementing similar boarding rules to SamTrans due to the coronavirus pandemic. Passengers are asked to follow rear-boardig and practice social distancing, maintaining at least six feet distance from other passengers onboard. “Passengers requiring ADA ramps, utilizing mobility devices or need priority seating may continue to use the front door for boarding. Wheelchair riders may be allowed onboard without securements by bus operators.”

AC transit is also implementing enhanced cleaning measures. Commonly touched surfaces are being regularly cleaned and disinfected.

Caltrain adjusts weekday service

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Caltrain will continue regular services, after being deemed an essential service. The updated timetable can be found on Caltrain’s website. Caltrain also has supsended the planned changes to Clipper fare changes, and all existing Clipper Adult fare discounts and Adult Monthly Pass pricing, will not change. “Ridership will be monitored closely to ensure that riders are able to practice social distancing in accordance with Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. Caltrain continues to maintain daily onboard cleaning and sanitation protocols in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines.”

On March 13, Caltrain also announced that morning and afternoon peak hour service will no longer feature Baby Bullet service.

Contra Costa County Connection goes fare-free

County Connection made a coronavirus announcement Tuesday that some County Connection service may be interrupted due to the “current state of operator availability.” County Connection buses are also suspending fare collection on all routes, including paratransit. Regular services from County Connection aside from 600-series routes will continue to operate. The 600-series routes are suspended due to school closures, and are expected to resume after schools are back in session.

County Connection statement: “Local service, including service to BART, has been prioritized in an effort to provide access to essential services such as food, pharmacies, banks and health providers. At County Connection, all buses and maintenance and administrative facilities are disinfected on a daily basis. All staff have access to gloves and masks.”

SFMTA/Muni makes major service changes

Starting next week, the SFMTA will implement additional services changes due to the “shelter-in-place” order. Here are the latest updates on service changes from the SFMTA website. You can also visit the SFMTA Reduced Muni Service website for the latest updates. The website will be updated March 28 to reflect the below mentioned service changes.

“Beginning Monday March 30, all Muni Metro and light rail routes will be replaced by buses. Customers can take bus substitutions for the J, KT, L, M, and N lines using the same bus stops as the early morning Metro bus service. Muni Metro subway stations will be closed, except for downtown stations which will remain open to customers taking BART during their operating hours.”

“Muni Rapid routes—the 5R, 9R, 28R, and 38R—will also be temporarily discontinued, except for the 14R Mission Rapid. Riders can instead use local service for all stops during all hours of service. The 5 Fulton and 9 San Bruno will begin running longer buses to help maintain social distancing for the health care providers, critical service workers and others who still rely on public transit to get around the city for essential needs.”

“Beginning Saturday, April 4, the 47 Van Ness will be temporarily discontinued on Saturdays and Sundays. The northern part of the 49 Van Ness route will be extended between North Point and Fisherman’s Wharf to cover the 47 segment on weekends.”

Regarding sanitzation, SFMTA says “Muni car cleaners, station custodians, and paratransit personnel clean vehicles and high-touch surfaces regularly. Daily vehicle cleaning includes safe, strong disinfectants on high-touch surfaces at the end of service. High-touch surfaces such as railings in Muni subway stations are cleaned approximately every four hours.” However, SFMTA asks passengers to note that surfaces such as bars and doors are only clean until someone coughs on them.

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