MTS cuts bus, trolley service as ridership falls

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System announced Monday that it will be reducing bus and trolley service effective next week in the wake of COVID-19 related ridership declines, though all existing, current routes will continue running under the new schedules.

Effective April 13, about 70% of bus routes will be operating at reduced frequencies, according to MTS officials. Trolley lines will operate at nearly normal schedules, though the UC San Diego Blue Line trolley will revert to mid-January service levels.

The reductions will account for a 25% reduction in weekday service overall.

More than three dozen bus routes will be unaffected by the new schedules, which will be posted online at www.sdmts.com and at all MTS bus and trolley stations later this week.

Route proximity to grocery stores, hospitals and other essential areas were taken into account when determining which routes to maintain and which to reduce service to, according to MTS officials.

MTS CEO Paul Jablonski said ridership is down about 65%, though he said that even with declines, MTS is serving about 100,000 people daily.

He urged people only to ride if it’s for essential services, while acknowledging that a large number of MTS users rely on transit to go to work, get groceries, go to medical appointments, and perform other necessary tasks.

For those who need to ride on MTS buses and trolleys, Jablonski said a series of measures have been taken to ensure clean conditions on MTS vehicles and stations.

With the exception of senior citizens and riders with physical disabilities, riders are asked to board MTS buses from the rear doors only, in order to prevent unnecessary proximity with drivers.

Cash payments are not being accepted by drivers as another measure to keep a safe distance between riders and bus operators.

County Supervisor and MTS Board Chair Nathan Fletcher said the ridership declines were encouraging, if for no other reason than San Diegans are doing their part to ensure physical distancing.

“This is the only time in my life when I will tell you that a reduction in transit is a good thing, but this is a good thing because it means that our community is staying home. It means that people are working together to try to limit the spread of coronavirus and we want to continue to reinforce that message, that if you can stay home, stay home,” Fletcher said.

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