Social distancing changes made to Anchorage Public Transportation

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Changes are coming to public transportation in Anchorage in the midst of COVID-19 concerns. For now, all operators are still working and busses are on schedule. It's how many people are allowed onboard that is changing.

The municipality announced Wednesday that only nine passengers would be permitted to be on each People Mover bus at a time until further notice.

Planning and Communications manager for the Municipal Department of Public Transportation, Bart Rudolph said it's an effort to promote social distancing while still providing the service. He continued to say it's to protect their drivers on top of slowing potential spread of Coronavirus.

He said if a bus has nine people already on it then the drivers are to keep going along the route until people get off making room.

"We still have busses that are coming every 15 minutes. So the good news is is if you're waiting for a bus and it's at capacity if you're along one of those routes, hopefully you can wait another 15 minutes and get on that bus. We currently don't have anymore operators or busses to deploy."

There's going to be a lot more cleaning on public transportation options as well. Rudolph said they are using a solution that's 50% bleach on the People Movers on all the high-touch surfaces inside the bus.

AnchorRIDES will also be more thoroughly cleaned according to Rudolph. For those busses, he said they switched to a hospital grade cleaner.

For AnchorRIDES, riders need to qualify. Rudolph said that service is reserved for the elderly and disabled. To get a ride, requests need to be made a day in advance.

There is a change that benefits riders and the effort to fight the spread of the virus. All the rides are free.

"That means that people don't have to stop at the fare box, which is directly next to the bus operator," Rudolph said, "sometimes their money gets jammed or their card doesn't work and they have to help them. So we're eliminating that whole interaction."

Rudolph said the enforcement of these policies will depend on the discretion of the operators. For example, he said if the bus is empty and there are 10 people at the stop, the operator can decide to let all 10 on.

If it's the last ride of the night, he said they aren't leaving people stuck at their bus stop.

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