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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Thursday June 20th 2024

Transit and the Coronavirus

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON

Last month, I wrote about a restructure of Rochester Public Transit since there was no news about transit in Phillips or the Twin Cities in general. Ironically, The Alley Newspaper submission deadline was just two days before Metro Transit made the first of two major service cutbacks due to the closure of certain businesses and the Stay At Home order.

By now, most people should know Metro Transit closes down from 11 PM to 4:30 AM each night, and that most routes are on a Saturday schedule on weekdays. Presumably, normal service will be restored when this crisis is over.

Even in normal times, I don”™t get out much anymore, and I”™ve only been for one bus ride since this mess began. That was to help a friend who has a bad memory and gets lost easily going shopping at a location he doesn”™t know how to get to by himself. (Caring for others is a legitimate reason to travel under the order.)

One thing I immediately noticed is how empty the buses are. Many have literally no people on board. One or two people seem to be more common. The most I encountered on any bus I rode while helping my friend was about six. This was on a weekday with the return half of my trip being during the typical rush hour. It was quite surreal.

Metro Transit is even foregoing fare collection on buses with a back door. (You are still supposed to pay on buses with no back door and on BRT and light rail.) This is so people can board and exit using the back door and not go near the driver, to avoid giving him or her the virus if they have it. At least Metro Transit admits the health of bus drivers is more important than a few dollars. That is a step in the right direction towards logical thinking.

The current travel restrictions are supposed to be lifted 4 May. Personally, I predict the Governor is going to extend them again; I don”™t think we”™ll have the coronavirus under control by then. I read somewhere that similar restrictions were imposed for 116 days in Minneapolis and 71 days in Saint Paul during the flu epidemic of 1918. A repeat would take us to June or July. Please stay well, safe, and at home!

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