From General Manager Wes Kooistra
Throughout the pandemic, Metro Transit has relied on public health guidance to determine how to deliver service while protecting our riders and our employees.
Under this guidance, we have asked customers to use transit only for essential trips and adhered to 25% vehicle capacity limits. For the sake of public health, we have acted in contradiction to our other values of transit’s benefit to the communities we serve.
Now, Gov. Walz’s recent “turn of the dial” is leading us into a new phase of pandemic management. As more activity is allowed, we expect to see more demand for transit.
Beginning Monday, April 5, we will begin allowing up to 20 passengers on 40-foot buses, up to 30 passengers on 60-foot buses, and up to 33 passengers on light rail vehicles. These limits are supported by the Minnesota Department of Health and are very similar to those in place at many other transit agencies across the nation.
Public health officials stress this shift must come with a renewed commitment to mask wearing by all customers who are not exempt from the federal mask requirement. We also ask that you continue to create as much space as possible between yourself and riders you don’t know.
Understandably, this change may create some uncertainty among our riders, some of whom have already expressed concern about crowded vehicles and mask compliance.
We take these concerns seriously and will continue to monitor ridership to understand where and when more service may be needed. If resources are available and a sustained need is identified, additional trips and larger vehicles may be assigned to limit overcrowding.
We are also aware that even at 50% capacity some riders may, at times, need to wait for the next trip. As before, bus operators who reach capacity will be asked to display the “NEXT BUS PLEASE” message on the overhead display until they can again allow customers to board. Operators are also encouraged to stop and inform waiting customers when they can expect the next bus to arrive.
Thank you for riding with us and for your continued cooperation as we work through this pandemic.