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Transportation changes in the time of COVID-19

For those who still need to get around the city during the recent stay at home order, public transportation is a viable option.

King County Metro discontinued fare collection on March 21 until further notice. Free fare services include buses, water taxi, and Access paratransit. Riders are being directed to board and exit at the rear doors of buses, reserving front-door access for customers using mobility devices or those who require the use of the boarding ramp.

“As this crisis evolves, we are constantly reviewing all of our practices and policies to provide the best service while keeping people safe,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine in a released statement. “Changing how riders board and exit our bus fleet and suspending all fares is part of that effort. It is essential to keep this community on the move, and I thank all the operators, mechanics, support staff, and riders who are helping us get through this, together.”

As part of the necessary steps that must be taken to limit the spread of COVID-19, riders are being asked to avoid traveling when sick, and to cover their coughs and sneezes. In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Metro says its crews spray all bus handrails, seats, windows, and other high-touch areas each night with a sanitizing solution that kills viruses. The spraying replaced bleach-soaked cleaning towels that Metro had been using, according to a recent article. The nightly disinfecting is in addition to Metro’s long standing policy of deep cleaning interior bus surfaces every 30 days. When an unsanitary condition arises, vehicles are pulled from service and subjected to further sanitizing and deep-cleaning.

If catching a Lyft is more your thing, the company’s website says they’re monitoring the coronavirus situation closely and are acting based on guidance from the CDC and local health officials. The company also says they’ve been in touch with drivers to make sure they have the latest guidance from the CDC on how to best protect themselves. They’ve distributed hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies to drivers at no cost and continue to alert drivers when they’re available in their city.

The company has temporarily paused Shared rides across all of their markets to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Tips for keeping yourself safe while using Lyft include keeping windows open when possible to increase ventilation, and sanitizing surfaces often. If you are not sick, you do not need to wear a facemask — unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask.) Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers and healthcare professionals.

If the company is notified of a rider or driver testing positive for COVID-19, Lyft says they will be temporarily suspended from using Lyft until they are medically cleared. The company also plans to provide funds to drivers, based on their previous activity on the Lyft platform, if they’re diagnosed with COVID-19 or put under individual quarantine by a public health agency. This will help to support drivers financially when they can’t drive, while also protecting their riders’ health. Lyft also says they are disinfecting all high-contact surfaces on their Bikes and Scooters any time vans are used to transport them.

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