CATA is making long-term crisis plans

Published: Mar. 18, 2020 at 12:35 PM EDT
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CATA is trying to make sure it will have enough drivers to keep the buses running in case the state or federal government issue a mass quarantine.

The head of the drivers union told News 10 members are being asked to volunteer to come into work to make sure public transportation is still available even if the government has to take extreme measures during the pandemic but not all drivers are on board.

"I signed no, mainly from the standpoint that I'm a father. I have two young 6-month daughters at home and a wife and it's been very disconcerting not knowing whether or not day from day if I'm coming into contact with passengers, just from riding the bus, breathing the same air, being in close proximities, whether I'm bringing something home and possibly putting them in danger," said Jim Search, CATA driver.

Katie Kelly said employees do have a right to not come into work if they feel like they are being compromised, but assures passengers CATA will continue to run.

"We know that we have a stable of people that we know we can draw from when we need them, if we need them," Kelly said.

CATA is changing policies to help keep the drivers safe such as requiring most passengers to get on and off the bus at the rear entrance and to sit at least two rows back from the driver.

"We're doing everything we can. I'm really comfortable with the plans that we have been included in and that we've made. I know that a huge shipment of disinfected wipes and cleaner have come in today and I'm confident that people's needs are being met," Kelly said.

CATA said they are doing everything they can to keep their employees safe. They say they're anticipating more changes.

"If you do not need to ride the bus, I ask you not to," said CATA CEO Bradley T. Funkhouser in a press release. “Our response to COVID-19 remains ever-changing and fluid. Our drivers have stepped up and agreed to put themselves at risk of infection in order to dedicate service to our most vulnerable riders,” Funkhouser said.

CATA said they have also implemented fare-free trips.

The following service reductions will be in effect, according to CATA:

Route 1: Service frequencies will vary throughout the day between 12 minutes and 30 minutes.

Route 5: Eleven trips have been eliminated, all before 5:45 p.m.

Route 8: Seven to eight have been eliminated before 6 p.m.

Route 9: Twelve trips have been eliminated until approximately 9:30 p.m.

Route 17: The free Grab & Go Express route will be suspended until further notice, effective immediately.

Route 26: This route will continue to operate during the week at a reduced frequency, following its Saturday schedule, operating at a 40-minute frequency, with buses bound for campus beginning at 9:33 a.m.

Routes 30, 31, 33, 38, and 39 will cease to operate on the campus of Michigan State University beginning Wednesday, March 18. Weekday service will be replaced by Routes 34, 35 and 36.

Route 32: Service will continue to operate as usual, Monday – Friday.

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