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Cap Metro to eliminate fares

Monday, March 30, 2020 by Elizabeth Pagano

Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority has announced that it will implement free fares throughout the month of April to prioritize public health amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Eliminating fares allows passengers to board through the rear bus door without stopping to pay fares or scan tickets, which reduces crowding and queuing near the driver. Those using wheelchairs and other mobility devices may use the front door.

In its announcement, the transportation authority stressed that the elimination of fares is not intended to encourage ridership, and encouraged Austinites to stay home, as was directed in last week’s Stay Home, Work Safe order, which is in effect until April 13. Modeling by the University of Texas at Austin shows that if each person in the city reduces their social interactions by 90 percent, area hospitals will have enough capacity to serve those with coronavirus. Ignoring those standards, according to the report, will lead to a death toll of thousands.

In addition to service changes, Capital Metro has implemented new cleaning procedures for all of its vehicles. The transit agency’s new goal is to clean and sanitize buses more than once a day, and extra staff have been hired to carry out the change. Capital Metro has also provided drivers with hand sanitizer and gloves, in accordance with guidance from the CDC and Austin Public Health. In addition, “skip a seat” signs have been placed throughout public vehicles, in an effort to encourage physical distancing of at least six feet between passengers.

In recent weeks, transit ridership has fallen steeply, and in the interest of public health, Capital Metro is encouraging this trend to continue, though the agency will continue operating to support those with essential jobs who rely on buses for transportation.

In addition to free fares, Capital Metro has suspended or reduced service on a number of lines. Starting today, most MetroExpress routes will suspend service for the time being. In addition, UT Shuttle service and Night Owl routes are not operating. MetroRail is continuing to operate on a Monday-Friday daytime schedule only.

In general, most buses are operating on their Sunday schedules. Updates to individual routes and schedules can be found here. Ongoing updates about Covid-19 can be found on Capital Metro’s dedicated page.

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