CapMetro focuses on health and safety as ridership goes down 62%

Austin

CapMetro cleaning crews. (CapMetro photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — CapMetro is operating with significantly less riders amid the COVD-19 pandemic, and yet their biggest concern is safety and the health of the community.

During a Facebook Live Q&A session Wednesday, the transit service said common areas of each CapMetro bus is being sanitized and cleaned several times throughout the day in attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus in Central Texas. Additionally, deep cleans of each vehicle will happen overnight.

Bus operators are also encouraging social distancing while on the bus. The service has placed “reminder” social distancing placards on each bus to help riders stay a safe distance from each other.

CapMetro spokesperson Mariette Hummell said they’ve hired 50 part-time cleaners this week, and they received 100 applications for the positions with an hour of posting the jobs Sunday.

Ridership is down 62%, Hummell says, and they “continue to evaluate services to see if we need to further modify our schedules.”

CapMetro ridership chart

CapMetro said it is essentially operating on an “honor system” right now in regards to patrons paying for trips. The transit service has enacted a rear-door boarding policy to prevent unnecessary human interaction at the front of the bus.

On Tuesday, the transit company announced that a non-public facing employee tested positive for COVID-19. The employee self-reported the diagnosis. A CapMetro spokesperson said the employee is currently recovering at home.

Most CapMetro employees will be eligible for a three-week sick pay program if they begin to show symptoms of COVID-19, the company announced this week. Operators and administrative staff are eligible for the supplemental sick leave.

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