Island Transit will be implementing its Emergency Service Plan starting Monday, March 23, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
On Monday the agency will begin running a reduced amount of bus service every day of the week except Sunday. At this time the agency is not planning to completely shut down its service.
“Even in this outbreak, some people still need to travel for essential purposes. It might be to the ferry, to their job on the island, to the store to get some groceries, or to dialysis. It’s important their transit system can take them there,” said Island Transit Board Chair, Jackie Henderson from the Coupeville Town Council.
Island Transit is reaching out to the public to let them know about this Emergency Service Plan through its website, Facebook, an automated alert system that many riders have signed up for, and by signs on the buses and at key transit facilities.
It is important for the public who are riding Island Transit to make sure they understand the changes in the routes they will be using, officials said. Paratransit service will continue to be available Monday through Saturday. Island Transit agency staff will help schedule paratransit trips within the parameters of the Emergency Service Plan.
The Emergency Service Plan looks a lot like the service that Island Transit has been operating on Saturdays. There will be some additional routes and trips to provide lifeline service connecting key locations, to the extent possible.
“Less service means that fewer of our coach operators are out in the public. Island Transit also needs to scale our operation so that we have enough employees to provide the service, even when the agency may be hit with sickness,” Island Transit Executive Director Todd Morrow said.
Additionally, as more people are staying home, bus ridership is dropping. This trend is happening throughout Washington State and across the nation. Ridership on the agency’s Whidbey routes Friday, March 13, had dropped by 26% as compared to that same day one year ago. On Camano the drop was 43% for that day.
Here’s what the Emergency Service Plan will provide, Monday through Saturday on Camano Island:
- Route 1-This route serves the north and west sides of Camano Island
- Route 2-This route serves the south and east sides of Camano Island
- Route 3-This is one of the connector routes from Camano Island to Stanwood
- Route 411C-There will be three roundtrips from Terry’s Corner connecting to Skagit Transit at Skagit Station in Mount Vernon
- Route 412-There will be two roundtrips from Terry’s Corner connecting to multiple transit agencies at Everett Station in Everett.
Island Transit is working with public health authorities to make sure that these bus trips can be as safe as possible for its riders and employees. The agency is using Clorox Healthcare Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaner Disinfectant daily on the grab bars, pull cords, poles and other high-touch, hard surfaces on its buses. This disinfectant has been approved for combatting COVID-19. The passenger seats are also being sprayed daily, and the floor cleaned with disinfectant daily, as well. Windows and mirrors are scrubbed daily, as well.
“The safety of the traveling public and our employees is the number one priority of Island Transit,” Morrow said.
While the agency is not in a position to screen who rides the bus, it is asking its riders to engage in safe personal hygiene etiquette when they are on the bus. To make that easy for its passengers, there are signs on the buses and in the shelters asking people to stay home if sick, cover their cough, and wash their hands frequently.
Social distancing-a practice of trying to keep six feet or more from other persons-is recommended by public health experts as another tactic to slow the spread of the virus.
“To help protect our coach operators, Island Transit is removing from use the bus seats immediately behind where the coach operator sits. This provides that distance for our drivers. Of course the most important social distancing practice is for the sick to stay home and not ride the bus,” Morrow said.
The agency has also provided protective kits for each of its drivers including hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, gloves, and masks.
The agency has emergency plans in place for operating out of a different location, should its buildings be temporarily closed for a deep cleaning.
The public is advised to check Island Transit’s website or sign-up for automated alerts so that they can stay abreast of additional changes in their bus service. This crisis and the agency’s response to it is evolving.
Community Transit reduces routes by 25%
Community Transit approved a plan last week to reduce most bus services by approximately 25%. The plan started Monday, March 30.
“We made a decision to proactively create a service plan that will allow us to provide more predictable service to our customers as we face these challenging times,” Community Transit CEO Emmett Heath said.
Community Transit provides vital transportation services within Snohomish County, including Stanwood.
Last week, Community Transit’s total boardings are down 57.3% when compared to February 2020.
Among the reductions:
• Commuter service, including routes to Seattle and Boeing will see greater service reductions to more closely match ridership.
• The span of service hours and frequency of trips will be reduced on each route. There will be longer gaps between trips but all routes will provide at least one trip in each direction for all of our communities.
• All Community Transit buses will remain fare free until further notice.
• All Community Transit buses will board and exit through the rear doors only. The front door will remain accessible for ADA customers only. The front 10 feet of all buses will be available for bus drivers and ADA customers only.
Buses are cleaned more regularly and workers are disinfecting of all high-touch areas , officials said.
No fares for Skagit Transit
Skagit Transit is currently offering travel on all of its fixed routes for free as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The practice allows riders and drivers to practice social distancing while on the bus, according to the Skagit Transit website.
A map and information is available at skagittransit.org.