Traveling Via Transit Safely During COVID-19

Getting Essential Workers Where They Need To Go…Safely

Currently, Routes 19, 34, & 52 are operating additional Covid Relief trips during the midday/early PM rush periods due to the continuation of capacity limits on board buses.

Today’s post will go over some basic rules of the road/rail as more people begin to return to some degree of normalcy. This may include using public transit to get to where you need to go for the first time in a long while. I can definitely say that when the worst of the 2020 lockdowns were hitting, I immediately retreated from using public transit in order to allow those who have no other avenue to get to & from where they need to travel – especially those who are unable to work from home.

PSTA # 12101 at the PSTA 34th St N Transfer Center, displaying a message signifying the mask-wearing requirement. The federal government has mandated mask-wearing on board all forms of public transit, including ride-share & taxi services.

Recently however, I have embarked on a few essential trips utilizing transit in order to either complete errands or to commute to/from work. My experience using transit during this time has felt much different versus pre-Covid – mainly due to capacity limits on board PSTA buses, as well as other temporary requirements such as mask-wearing.

What you need to know…

In this section, I’ll go over some key points that you will need to keep in mind when using transit during the post-Covid period – at least until a vast majority of restrictions are lifted.

In order to avoid any surprises before you leave, please be sure to check your respective transit agency’s website or call their customer service line. Transit agency websites, as well as local, state/provincial, & federal government websites, will have all of the up-to-date information that you need prior to embarking on your essential transit journey. This includes updated transit schedule information.

Many jurisdictions are requiring face masks while on board transit vehicles & while waiting at transit stations. Please be sure that your mask properly covers your mouth & nose at all times. If your commute is rather long, I would suggest that you bring more than one mask just in case.

Trains & buses can crowd up very easily under normal situations & the same can be said for major transit stations. While it is not possible to keep a distance from one another in all situations, please try to do so whenever possible. Many transit agencies have implemented signage & decals at stations & on vehicles to encourage everyone to social distance, with some agencies implementing temporary staggered seating arrangements where every other seat may be taped or roped off.

Special signage on board a Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) bus noting of social distancing measures.

This one is pretty much a no-brainer, always wash your hands! If soap & water are not available, please use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

The 2020 Covid lockdowns have no doubt caused transit ridership worldwide to plummet. While many riders are gradually returning, many agencies continue to operate using measures to reflect decreased ridership & ongoing efforts to help reduce virus spread. These adjustments may include reduced frequency & routing options, a later start to service &/or an earlier end time, as well as vehicle capacity restrictions. Please be sure to check with your respective transit agency for the latest schedule information before you leave. If needing to schedule alternative ways to get to your final destination, such as ride share, please be sure that you plan those ahead as well.

While efforts to bring forth contactless fare payment options – such as Flamingo Fares in the Tampa Bay, FL region, or OMNY in the New York City, NY region – have been in motion well before Covid hit, using such contactless options are more important than ever before. When available, please use your contactless payment option to pay for your fares while using transit. If such options are not yet available in your area, please consider contacting your transit agency’s customer service line to see how you can purchase transit passes online or over the phone. Please be mindful that some agencies may currently have their physical customer service centers closed to the public.

With many people stressed out & facing uncertain paths ahead, it is more important than ever before to show courtesy to others. Please refrain from engaging in conversation that would be disruptive or disrespectful to others, playing loud music without headphones, & engaging in other questionable or illegal behavior. Also, please show courtesy & respect to transit employees. Remember, they are helping you to get to where you need to go.

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