Athens Public Transit Cleans up While Eliminating Fares

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ATHENS, Ohio – Essential travel is still allowed in Ohio despite the continuation of the stay-at-home order. Athens Public Transit is making those trips easier by eliminating fares on all bus routes.

The decision comes as Athens Transit has suspended Saturday routes and reduced the number of runs overall.

Safety guideline posted on the bus doors. [Picture Courtesy: Aditya Sahasrabudhe]
Other changes include restricting the number of seated riders to five or fewer and one wheelchair passenger at a time. To help keep the passengers six-feet apart, caution tape marks off sections of the bus.

Meeting needs is what motivates bus driver Josie Taylor to go out and do her job.

“Provide a service, get out there and help you get to the doctor’s appointment,” she said. “If everybody is afraid of the virus, nobody is going to get the things they need.”

Although health comes first, in these unprecedented times, providing a service to the those locked down at home is a duty Taylor said she is keen on doing.

“We have a few drivers that have children that are immune-compromised that take risks every day, to be able to provide a service,” she said.

Attention to cleanliness continues long after the bus is parked.

“They (bus drivers) take off their clothes when they get home, they are showering before they touch their families, they are washing their hands 10, 12, 14 times a day,” she said.

All buses are equipped with PPE kits, hand sanitizers, and disinfectants. Drivers disinfect the seats and handrails every time the passengers get off the bus.

“We are lucky because we have a good company that provides hand sanitizers and materials we need to keep going and without our jobs, we wouldn’t have places to call home,” she said.

Yellow caution tapes used to cordon off sections of the bus. [Picture Courtesy: Aditya Sahasrabudhe]
HAPCAP transportation director Carolyn Conley said she is proud of the drivers.

“Our drivers have been true champions through this whole situation,” she said. “They feel that what they are doing is important – we feel what they are doing is important and a true service to the community and they’ve really embraced that challenge and really stepped up to the plate.”

Conley said the Athens Transit’s on-demand service has also changed to improve the safety of the riders.

“Earlier, we’d try to group riders together so that there were taking multiple riders in one time, but we’ve stopped doing that,” she said. “We are only allowing one person at a time or one family group in the van.”