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In the age of social distancing, METRO responds to coronavirus outbreak

Buses, light rail limited to half of full capacity

HOUSTON – As social distancing becomes an increasingly large part of the lives of Houstonians, METRO is changing practices to allow passengers to ride while remaining safe.

Rob Gullate is nervous about riding Metro light rail trains and buses, worried a fellow passenger might be sick. Gullate also said he and many others have no choice but to use public transportation to get to work, take their children to the doctor and get groceries.

“People still got to get money,” Gullatte said. “Ain’t nobody’s bills about to stop getting paid, you know what I’m saying, so we are still going to have to ride the bus, still going to have to get to work. My biggest concern is are they going to shut (Metro) down."

In a statement, Metro stated that it is reducing seating on buses and light rail. They will only be filled to half capacity to allow people to distance themselves from each other.

“I could see everybody was really trying to stay their distance from everybody,” said Mark Brown, who rode the bus Tuesday. “They didn’t want to be up close to you.”

Metro said it could also add buses in frequently-traveled routes if needed. The routes haven’t been determined yet because Metro said there isn’t a need for additional buses at the moment. Metro said its ridership is down since social distancing restrictions were implemented in Harris County and schools were closed.

“METRO understands the critical role public transportation provides for the region,” the statement said. “The authority is committed to continuing to provide service and will do so safely.”

Passengers are practicing social distancing while riding a bus to their destinations.
Passengers are practicing social distancing while riding a bus to their destinations. (HOUSTON METRO)

Metro said passengers who are healthy can continue using light rail, park-and-rides and METROLift, and they should expect reduced capacity and mitigate close contact with others.

METRO recommends:

  • Consider commuting during off-peak hours
  • Take a seat instead of holding on to poles
  • Wash hands or use sanitizer once you reach your destination

METRO also says it is cleaning and disinfecting buses and light rails daily and has added signage around bus stops and rail stations reminding the public on health practices to stop the spread of germs.

Despite Metro’s efforts, some passengers say they haven’t seen additional cleaning happening on their routes.

“Maybe when the bus is back at the garage, it’s cleaned,” Doris Ramirez said.

Metro did not disclose how often the vehicles are being cleaned throughout the day.

Signage has been posted all over bus stops and rail stations.
Signage has been posted all over bus stops and rail stations. (HOUSTON METRO)