Valley Regional Transit (VRT) is taking proactive steps to protect those who ride the buses and those who drive them. Starting March 21, ValleyRide bus operators will not collect fares, and riders will be asked to enter and exit the buses using the rear door when and if it is possible.
Once on the bus, passengers are encouraged to practice social distancing and sit as far away from other passengers as possible. The new policy helps to protect the drivers by distancing them from passengers at the fare box.
ValleyRide buses provide a vital service to those who can’t or don’t drive. Because of this, it has been the goal of VRT to continue transit services on a regular schedule. However, the agency has seen ridership decline an average of 25 percent since the beginning of March. Some routes have seen larger ridership drops than others, and there will come a time when the agency will have to make choices about which routes to continue operating and which ones to suspend.
“We want to continue providing service to those who rely on our buses to get to and from work,” said Kelli Badesheim, VRT executive director. “That’s why we will prioritize those routes serving the most people.”
The coronavirus is disrupting business as usual all over the world and has forced VRT to postpone planned service improvements to ValleyRide bus service scheduled to be implemented on March 30. A new implementation date will be set after the COVID-19 crisis has passed.
Stephen Hunt, principal planner for VRT, said the delay is in response to the actions of local and national leaders to limiting public gatherings and avoiding unnecessary travel and public contact to slow the spread of COVID-19 virus.
“It is a prudent decision at this time not to implement and promote the service improvements during the COVID-19 crisis,” Hunt explained. “We are excited about providing these service improvements to our riders, and they will be implemented as soon as we are told it is safe to encourage travel again.”
The planned service improvements will include new service to the city of Eagle; later weekday service on the Route 2 Broadway; later Saturday service on four Saturday bus routes in Boise; and timing changes on all routes designed to improve on-time performance. More information about the service changes can be found at: https://www.valleyregionaltransit.org/projects-plans/service-changes/
VRT operates with about 90 drivers covering 25 routes in Ada and Canyon counties. Because public transit provides a vital service to many people who either can’t or don’t drive, the agency is trying to maintain regular service as long as it is practicable. All VRT buses and public facilities are being routinely cleaned and disinfected to reduce the chances of the COVID-19 virus from being spread on frequently touched surfaces.
VRT continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and will be following the guidance of federal, state and local authorities. The agency encourages the public to seek more information about the COVID-19 coronavirus from reliable sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.
VRT will post updates on service to its website: valleyregionaltransit.org, and on social media. Customers can also call the Help Desk at 208-345-7433.