WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — COVID-19 is shutting everything down, from schools to businesses and restaurants.
The Williamsburg Area Transit Authority is still in service, and for many people like Sylvia Moore, it's their only form of transportation.
“You can't run from it you just go to deal with it the best you can.,” Moore said.
Transit authority staff is trying to keep everyone safe when they get on the bus, and that means more cleaning than normal.
A special contractor spent Sunday deep cleaning and sanitizing all the buses and offices.
“A lot of the cleaning we do is a ramp-up from what we've done in the past,” Deputy Executive Director Josh Moore said. “We're trying to make sure we keep everyone safe as possible.”
WATA is asking riders to try to keep an empty seat between them. Drivers are using gloves and cleaning wipes. They're also only allowing passengers to enter through the rear door, limiting contacts between drivers and riders.
“We don't want to get anyone sick, and we want our customers to know we are trying to do the best we can to help everyone out,” Moore said.
WATA operators will NOT be collecting any fares until further notice; all fixed-route rides are FREE. No passenger should cross the caution tape and approach the front of the bus. Only persons in wheelchairs, some senior passengers and those with disabilities will be permitted to sit in the front section of the bus.
Moore is happy to know more and more people are taking this pandemic seriously.
“I hope they get it all straight, it's sad for the people who are out of work, it's sad,” Moore said.
Staff are looking at another deep cleaning on Sunday.
WATA is reminding passengers to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after riding on public transportation and asking people to continue to monitor social media such as Facebook and Twitter as well as alerts on their website through this public health crisis.
To reduce capacity, WATA suspended frequency or every half-hour service during morning and evening rush hours. This also frees up a few drivers and vehicles to be alternates used on our other fixed routes in case we have absences.
WATA receives funding from several sources. They’re hoping to use those funding sources to make up losses from no fare. They’ll also receive some funding to recoup those losses from the Community Transportation Board, which has committed $11 million to help Virginia’s public transit agencies during this challenging time. Those funds are scheduled to come in the next few months, but WATA doesn’t have a figure on how much funding it will receive.