Spokane Transit Authority to keep buses running as long as possible

SPOKANE, Wash. — For some people, the public bus is the only way they can get around town. Closing down the bus system because of coronavirus concerns could make it really hard for them.

It’s a decision the Spokane Transit Authority is not taking lightly.

For some students at Spokane Falls Community College, the bus is how they get to and from school, along with running errands and making it to appointments.

“[It’s] very crucial because I have to get everywhere,” said Nadine Wilks of having the bus system.

If Wilks didn’t have the bus, she’d ask her parents to drive her. But if that’s not possible, she’d find another way.

“If I had to, I’d walk. The buses are really important,” she said.

This is why STA will try to do what it can to keep services going.

“We want to be as reliable as we can. If we got to a situation where our own workforce wouldn’t be able to come because of illness, we’re planning scenarios for the different service levels we provide,” said Brandon Rapez-Betty, the director of communications with STA.

That means STA could eventually switch all its bus lines to the lowest service level, their “Sunday and Holiday” schedule, which means there would be fewer bus times.

In hopes to keep their drivers healthy, STA gave drivers their own personal protection equipment – hand sanitizer, gloves and sanitation wipes.

Rapez-Betty said each bus is sanitized and cleaned every night.

“We’re trying to make sure that the buses have the best environment possible by sanitizing and cleaning them every single night. When it comes down to it, information is key and making sure people knowing how to protect themselves is important,” he said.

Closing down the bus system would be STA’s last resort, because people rely on them.

In the last week, Rapez-Betty said they’ve seen a decline in riders, and they anticipate that continuing as people practice social distancing.

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