Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Chief Executive Officer Phillip A. Washington today outlined aggressive steps taken by Metro to continue to provide transit service and to safeguard the riding public and Metro’s workforce in response to the current COVID-19 crisis.
With the state of California and local officials announcing “stay at home” orders on Thursday, Metro officials reiterated that bus and rail service will continue but with service adjustments to reflect on-the-street reality of lower demand. Both bus and rail service will be adjusted that will result in slightly less service than offered on the typical weekday but more than on a typical weekend. We are calling this is our hybrid service package.
As a result, some bus trips may be canceled, and all rail lines will run slightly less frequently during peak hours. Late night service on rail lines on Friday and Saturday nights will also be adjusted. Service could be adjusted further as the situation with the virus evolves.
Metro is the third busiest transit system in the United States and ridership earlier this week was about 50 to 60 percent lower than normal due to school closings, people staying home from work and the closure of restaurants, bars and entertainment/sporting venues. The agency still saw more than 550,000 daily boardings on both Monday and Tuesday this week — compared to about 1.2 million average weekday boardings in February.
“I want to assure the public and Metro employees that we are doing everything possible to maintain a healthy and safe system for our customers who rely heavily on Metro buses and trains as their lifeline to get where they need to go throughout L.A. County,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “The ridership decline is because people are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing and staying at home if they can.
“Metro is not considering halting transit services at this time,” added Washington. “We know our services are extremely important to thousands of people in the most populous county in the United States, including first responders, hospital workers and essential county and city workers. I’ve been in the transit industry for two decades and was in the U.S. Army for 24 years before that and though this challenge is unique, and we are operating with an abundance of caution, we are not operating from a position of fear. We understand the devastating effects COVID-19 is having and Metro will do everything it can to ensure we get through this.”
In addition to adjusted rail service, Metro has made other changes this week, including;
• Metro will begin installing and increasing sanitation stations and access to hand sanitizer at major transit stops and stations to allow riders to wash their hands, one of the best safeguards against the COVID-19 virus. Metro is also exploring and researching how to equip buses and trains with hand sanitizer dispensers to help control the virus.
• Metro has already strengthened its cleaning regimes within buses, trains, stations and facilities and all nonessential Metro employees are now working from home.
• Metro’s Headquarters building was closed to the public effective Wednesday, March 18, until further notice. All Metro Board of Directors meetings in March were also cancelled with all agenda items pushed to the next meeting.
Metro continues to follow the orders and recommendations from the L.A. County Department of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Metro’s primary direction to its employees is to protect themselves and others through good personal hygiene practices, work/social spacing and other precautions. More vulnerable segments of staff have already been directed to stay at home and service adjustments will allow more staff to care for their families.
There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 being contracted on Metro, nor is Metro aware of any staff member who has contracted COVID-19. Metro has nearly 11,000 employees.
Metro has also activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and established an Incident Management Team (IMT) to work with Metrolink, Amtrak, Access Services and Union Station. Metro is also in daily contact with the L.A. County Department of Public Health as well as city and county of Los Angeles emergency officials.
Metro will be offering frequent updates about service throughout the COVID-19 crisis. We encourage the public to visit www.metro.net for the latest information.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is building the most ambitious transportation infrastructure program in the United States and is working to greatly improve mobility through its Vision 2028 Plan. Metro is the lead transportation planning and funding agency for L.A. County and carries about 1.2 million boardings daily on a fleet of 2,200 low-emission buses and six rail lines.
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