Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) announced this week it is planning to continue its temporary service reduction until September 20th.
WTA began the temporary service reduction in March when they began following their Saturday service schedules from Monday through Friday and Sunday service schedules on Saturdays and Sundays and urged people to ride buses for essential trips only. These would include trips to a grocery store, pharmacy and medical appointments.
In addition, WTA officials say they have taken additional health safety measures:
- Extra cleaning and disinfecting of all high-touch surfaces every night
- Making the bus fare free
- Requiring riders to enter and exit from the rear door unless they need the ramp
- Strongly encouraging riders to ride the bus for essential trips only
- Taping off seats to encourage social distancing
- Closing the Bellingham Station Lobby (though restrooms stay open)
- Disconnecting free onboard WIFI
- Adding extra buses on busy routes
- Limiting number of riders on fixed routes to 12
- Strongly encouraging riders to wear a mask when they ride the bus
This current level of service is what the agency says it can sustain throughout the summer based on the availability of bus drivers, staff and supplies needed to keep buses and facilities clean and safe.
Reduced service also makes it possible to add capacity on the busiest routes, WTA officials say, allowing for increased physical distancing while onboard.
WTA is continuing to offer free fares and says they will do so until further notice. Zone Service, which provides limited dial-a-ride service to rural communities one or two days per week, is not being reduced at this time.
According to WTA’s 2020 budget, 87% of the agency’s total revenue is expected to come from sales taxes and 7% from fixed route fares.
Riders with questions are asked to call WTA at (360) 676-7433 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ridership has dropped dramatically during the COVID-19 crisis according to the following slide from a WTA presentation at a Washington State Transportation Commission meeting scheduled for today, June 16th. The slide compares bus rider volumes on fixed routes during 2019 with 2020.