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April 6, 2020

METRO makes schedule changes, suspends fares

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—In response to the state’s declaration of a State of Emergency as a result of the threat of COVID-19, and other recent federal, state and county guidance, Santa Cruz (METRO) announced sweeping changes set for Monday.

On Thursday Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered California’s roughly 40 million residents to stay home except to work and engage in essential services. Included in this is mass transit and passenger rail, said Alex Clifford, METRO CEO/General Manager.

METRO will continue to provide fixed-route and paratransit service for as long as possible during the health pandemic, Clifford said.

However, in an effort to further protect METRO employees and the public during this health pandemic, the following changes will start Monday:

• Due to decreased ridership, and in an attempt to reduce METRO bus operators’ exposure, all service provided by METRO will run daily but on the Saturday/Sunday schedule until further notice. That means fewer buses running; less frequency of service; later start and earlier end times.

• All School Term Service (ST) has been suspended until further notice.

• To help create safe social distancing, METRO will reduce/eliminate the interface with customers at the farebox by suspending the collection of fares on buses and ParaCruz paratransit services until further notice.

• All customers will enter and exit through the rear door of the bus until further notice. This applies to buses with two or more doors and is limited to buses in which the operator can actuate the rear door (newer buses). In all other cases, customers will continue to board at the front door and will not pay a fare.

• Buses that will allow customers to enter at the rear door will have a sign on the front door directing them to do so. People who wish to continue boarding and exiting through the front door for ADA purposes will be allowed to continue doing so.

• Flip seats at the front of the bus in the mobility securement area will be restricted to ADA customers using mobility devices only – no ambulatory or general seating. This applies on all fixed-route buses, including Highway 17 commuter buses.  

• ParaCruz services, ParaCruz paratransit services are now prioritizing customers requiring service to/from essential services such as doctor’s appointments and dialysis. All other trips will continue to be served, but not necessarily on the schedule requested by the customer.

• All METRO Customer Service and private vendor services, including restroom facilities, at both Pacific Station and the Watsonville Transit Center, will be suspended until further notice Though the lobbies are closed, bus operations will continue at these facilities.

• Customer Service calls will continue to be received at 425-8600.

For information, visit www.scmtd.com.

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Tony Nuñez
Managing Editor Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor for five years before entering his current role in 2019. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus, he covers the city, business, housing, entertainment and more.

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