Transit ridership drops significantly across the country amid coronavirus fears; some agencies cut service

Written by RT&S Staff

With the coronavirus continuing to spread fear across the U.S., transit agencies are now starting to feel the effects of more people working from home and more people simply avoiding public gatherings.

In California, Caltrain and VTA have announced cutbacks in service. Next week Caltrain will cancel the Baby Bullet service between San Francisco and San Jose during the morning and afternoon rush hour. There has been a 75 percent drop in one-way Caltrain ridership. Meanwhile, school closings have the VTA cutting public transit centered around serving school children. VTA will run one-car light rail trains instead of two- or three-car trains.

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) also has been losing riders ever since the coronavirus hit the U.S., but the transit agency is still running at full capacity.

Officials at BART, Caltrain and VTA said more cuts in service could be in store, and BART has plans to shut down its system entirely if necessary.

There were fewer commuters taking the New York City subway last week. Officials say ridership was down over 18 percent, which equates to about 948,000 fewer trips than an average weekday in January. Long Island Rail Road was reporting a 31 percent drop in riders, while the Metro-North experienced a 48 percent decrease.

Washington state was the first region hit hard by the coronavirus, and Sound Transit, which includes Link light rail and Sounder commuter rail, were the first transit agencies in the U.S. to feel the impact of the disease. There were 25 percent fewer commuters in the month of February compared to January 2020, and between March 2 and March 9 there was a 15 percent decline.

Washington, D.C., Metro is expected to implement service cuts after it executed 100,000 fewer trips on Wednesday compared to the same day last week.

Cities like Boston, Dallas and Los Angeles, however, have not experienced the same sharp declines.

Some officials are suggesting raising fares to make up for the loss in revenue. If the money is not recovered, some infrastructure projects could be put on hold.

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