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DDOT grinds to a stop Tuesday; SMART bus system fare-free to avoid potential coronavirus exposure

smart bus driving down a street in Detroit
Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio

A driver shortage means Detroit Department of Transportation buses are not running today.

"We are asking passengers to seek other forms of transportation while we work to address our drivers' concerns," a written advisory states.

CATA, serving the Lansing area indicates it's temporarily closing its downtown transportation center and reducing service on some toutes. In a statement CATA CEO Bradley T. Funkhouser added, "As new developments related to COVID-19 arise, CATA may effect additional service adjustments."

The Rapid bus system in Grand Rapids says it is "working on our containment strategy and will make an announcement soon" about those efforts.

All of the bus services  across the state are making sure they disinfect buses each day to help reduce exposure to the Novel Coronavirus. 

The SMART bus system serving metro Detroit looked at the place where most passengers touch. Deputy General Manager Robert Cramer says that’s the fare box.

“So the thought was that if we basically turn off the fare boxes and run a fare-free service, we're going to require everyone who's able to board and exit the bus through the back doors,” Cramer explained.

That also limits bus drivers' potential exposure to the virus. Exceptions will be made for people with disabilities who need to use a ramp to board the bus.

Like other systems, SMART is also concentrating on disinfecting the buses each day. People still touch some of the bars and handholds as they board the bus. 

“Not everybody touches every bar, but basically every passenger that comes on has to interact with that fare box. That's the main reason why we decided to basically turn those off," Cramer said.

The transit agency recommends to its passengers that they don’t touch their faces and wash their hands as soon as possible after getting off the bus.

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Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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