By Madeleine Graham
Fares for fixed bus routes and transfers on MTA Flint are being waived because of the coronavirus situation until April 6, according to CEO Ed Benning. The use of transfers has been eliminated until further notice.
Benning said MTA drivers for all forms of transportation–fixed city routes, Your Ride and Ride to Wellness–have been provided with masks, gloves and hand sanitizers. He said it is not mandated and not all drivers have elected to use the medical supplies, but the vast majority are wearing the medical equipment.
Passengers on the 14 fixed routes that go to and from downtown or city buses are being asked to load through the rear door and unload through the rear door to facilitate social distancing, unless the person has a special need to load through the front door, Benning said.
Your Ride drivers who are loading and unloading wheelchair bound passengers are encouraged to wear medical supplies, Benning added. The drivers have also been provided with cleaning supplies.
Personnel at the administrative offices of MTA have been asked to work remotely; 95 percent of the administrative staff are doing so, with key personnel in the IT and accounting departments rotating, he said.
He reported there has been some change in fixed city routes because ridership is down — to about 50 to 60 percent of regular riders. Your Ride continues at about 50 percent with Ride to Wellness pretty much remaining in high use, Benning said. Ride to Wellness is seeing grocery store runs in high demand.
Recently Ride to Wellness expanded the Veteran’s Services commuting to Detroit, Ann Arbor and Saginaw after coordinating the services with the Veterans Administration in Genesee County on a six-month trial basis, Benning said.
“Again, a real surprise to me [instead of medical reasons for rides being primary] is the need for groceries for veterans and their families,” he said.
Buses that serve regional routes to six other counties may be impacted in light of the recent situation in Flint where a General Motors employee tested positive for COVID-19. but Benning said he’s uncertain at this time.
Currently the use of the regional service stands between 90 and 95 percent, he said.
Banks that have closed indoor services may be explored with MTA as to how to best serve commuters of public transportation, but nothing has been resolved as of this time, and access to banks for MTA users remains a fluid situation.
Some MTA drivers have been deployed to help out with G-Card and providing commodities and food for the vulnerable, Benning stated.
Benning offered accolades for his MTA employees and pride in the services continuing to be provided as the coronavirus situation has developed. He said there are no plans to stop serving the community of those for whom mobility is a crucial need.
More information is available at MTA Customer Service, (810) 767-0100.
EVM Staff Writer Madeleine Graham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.