Public bus systems faced with COVID-19 taking increased measures

Bus systems in Huntington and Charleston are doing what they can to keep riders safe from COVID-19, while continuing to serve those who rely on them for transportation.
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Bus systems in Huntington and Charleston are doing what they can to keep riders safe, while continuing to serve those who rely on them for transportation.

"People ride the bus usually for two different reasons -- either to go make money or to go spend money," said Doug Hartley, executive director of the Kanawha Regional Transit Authority.

Hartleysaid the first calls he got in response to COVID-19 were from CAMC Medical Center in Charleston.

"Many of their employees ride our buses to get to work," Hartley said. "We have a lot of people that are in the food service industry that are riding to get to work to do your carryout food."

In Huntington, Paul Davis, CEO of Tri-State Transit Authority, said most riders are essential service workers, too.

"We do have people that ride the bus and a lot of times they don't have a destination and we stopped that," Davis said.

Both bus systems report their ridership is at 50 percent the normal capacity.

Other measures Charleston and Huntington are doing is adding curtains to the drivers' area to section them off from riders, keeping riders 6 feet from the driver, posting signs and adding plexiglass to ticket windows.

"We are cleaning the buses like you wouldn't believe," Davis said.

In Charleston, Harltey said KRT contracted an outside cleaning service to clean buses each week.

Hartley said KRT is operating at full service and they are using the biggest buses they have to transport passengers. He said the bus drivers are reporting about 10 to 12 people usually ride the buses.

Both public transportation services say they have a plan if they discover someone with COVID-19 rides the bus.

"If they rode a bus, they would contact us. We would be able to isolate that bus know who the driver was things like that," Hartley said.

The main message both public transportation systems want to keep driving home is that only those that need to ride should ride.

Please don't ride," Davis said. "Please only use the bus system if you have to."