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Rail News: Security

California passenger-rail services continue during stay-at-home order

California transportation agencies will remain open for essential travel under the order.
Photo – CDC


California passenger-rail agencies are continuing operations for essential travel after several California counties issued stay-at-home orders.

Under the order, residents in San Francisco, Marin, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa counties and the city of Berkeley have been ordered not to leave their homes for three weeks except to meet “essential needs.” Transportation agencies are categorized as an “essential business” under the order and will remain open, according to the order summary.

Despite declining ridership numbers, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) will continue regular service during the order, running long enough trains to allow riders to remain 6 feet from each other. 

BART served 24 percent to 61 percent fewer riders last week compared with the average number of riders in the four weeks prior, BART officials said in a press release.

To respond to low ridership levels, Caltrain began operating on a reduced peak-hour schedule, and Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit cancelled weekend train service through April 5. 

The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority also expects to announce service reductions after March 20.

Meanwhile, several U.S. and Canadian transportation agencies provided updates on their efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Following is a summary by railroad or agency:

  • Amtrak continues to operate, however it has temporarily reduced some service on the Northeast Corridor. Also, starting tomorrow, Amtrak will suspend all Keystone Service, and on Thursday, will suspend all Pennsylvanian route trains in Pennsylvania, in coordination with that state's health officials. The railroad's Winter Park Express has been canceled for the rest of the season.
  • Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority today reduced service on all subway and commuter-rail lines. In addition, MBTA is disinfecting passenger ares and touch points on commuter-rail trains daily. Many trains are also receiving deeper cleans every 12 hours.
  • Virginia Railway Express today will reduce the number of trains operating on its commuter-rail lines from 16 to eight trains due to ridership drops.
  • Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County in Texas later this week will limit seat availability on its light rail to encourage social distancing. The authority has also put a greater emphasis on disinfecting high-touch surfaces on trains during daily cleanings.
  • North Texas public transit agencies — including Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), the Denton County Transportation Authority, Fort Worth's Trinity Metro and the Trinity Railway Express — have added additional rail car cleanings, including focus on disinfecting high-touch surfaces. DART has also isolated vehicles and areas that have been exposed to unsanitary or unhygienic stations, including removing vehicles from service.
  • San Diego Metropolitan Transit System installed hand washing units at 54 of its trolley stations and the UTC Transit Center, and added additional maintenance teams to amp up disinfection efforts at its transit centers.