METRO reduces Park & Ride service, closes HOV lanes; two employees test positive for COVID-19

METRO
METRO has updated its service list amidst an announcement that two of its employees tested positive for COVID-19. (Courtesy Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County)

METRO has updated its service list amidst an announcement that two of its employees tested positive for COVID-19. (Courtesy Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County)

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County has suspended all Park & Ride routes, except those serving the Texas Medical Center, and has made other adjustments to its bus and rail schedules, effective March 30, the transit agency announced.

This comes as two employees with the transit provider tested positive for COVID-19, according to a March 29 news release. The first employee works in the METROLift dispatch area, and was last on the job March 26. They did not interact with the public, according to the announcement. The second employee is a bus operator and was lost on the job March 25. The operator drove the 412 Greenlink Circulator Route from 6 a.m. to 2:17 p.m. on these days: March 9,10, 11,12, 13, 16, 17,18,19, 20 and 23. They also drove the 247 Fuqua Park & Ride from 6:18 a.m. to 9:17 a.m. on March 24 and 25.

“METRO is working with public health officials so they can identify and notify anyone who rode the bus on these routes in the last 14 days,” the transit provider said in the news release.

The modified service list is one in a string of changes METRO has made in efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the Greater Houston area. Since March 20, the provider has encouraged social distancing on its buses through placing tags on bus and rail routes to reduce the number of available seats by 50 percent, as well as adding vehicles on heavily traveled routes. On March 23, METRO began back-door boarding, and temporarily suspended collecting fares to avoid unnecessary contacts.

The new service adjustments are listed below:


Park & Ride

  • The following Park & Ride routes serving the Texas Medical Center will operate on a regular weekday schedule:

    • 170-171 Missouri City Express/Fort Bend Town Center

    • 292 West Bellfort/Westwood/TMC

    • 297 South Point/Monroe/TMC

    • 298 Kingsland/Addicks/NWTC/TMC



  • 291 Conroe Park & Ride will only run 6:30 a.m. inbound and 4:30 p.m. outbound trips.




  • All other Park & Ride service is suspended.


Local Bus/ Community Connectors


  • Local bus routes will continue to run on a modified Saturday Schedule seven days a week.

  • Red and Blue routes will be reduced to service every 30 minutes.

  • Green Routes will follow their normal Saturday schedule.

  • Route designations can be found on bus stop signs.

  • Community Connector routes will continue to operate.


METRORail


  • The Red Line will operate a modified Sunday schedule every 12 minutes.

  • The Purple Line will run on a modified Sunday schedule every 18 minutes.

  • The Green Line will run bus shuttles every 20 minutes.

  • The Texas Medical Center rail shuttle from Fannin South to Hermann Park/Rice U station will operate every 12 minutes during weekday morning and afternoon peak times.


HOV/HOT Lanes


  • All HOV/HOT Lanes will be closed.


METROLift


  • The number of passengers in each vehicle is being reduced to allow social distancing which may extend wait times.


Social Distancing


  • Seating on METRO vehicles has been reduced by 50 percent.

  • Boarding and exiting is through the rear door unless accessibility needs require front door entry.

  • As employers and schools adhere to the Stay Home Order, METRO ridership has decreased allowing for more space among passengers. (Total fixed route ridership Thursday, March 26, 2020 was 130,000 boardings, down 53 percent from one year ago)

  • Fares are suspended temporarily.

  • METRO RideStore locations are currently closed.

By Hunter Marrow
Hunter Marrow came to Community Impact Newspaper in January 2020. Before that, Hunter covered local news in Ontario, OR for three years, covering municipal issues, crime, and education across Malheur County and across the border into Idaho.


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