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Coronavirus update: Passenger-rail agencies prepare for service changes, amp up disinfection

Ridership on the Bay Area Rapid Transit and Capitol Corridor systems continues to decline.
Photo – CDC


North American passenger-rail agencies continue to take precautions in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, a disease caused by the new coronavirus. 

As Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) ridership in San Francisco continues to decline, BART officials yesterday assured riders the agency is not anticipating a service reduction, agency officials said in a press release.

However, BART General Manager Bob Powers yesterday told BART's board that the agency has emergency plans in place should there be a call to shut down or significantly reduce service.

BART’s ridership on March 11 was 268,192 riders, a 35 percent drop compared to an average Wednesday last month. Ridership on the system has been on the decline since March 2.

Also in California, the Capitol Corridor has logged lower ridership over the past two weeks.

With low ridership expected to continue for the next few weeks, the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) said it may not be able to maintain regular service levels next month. The authority is working with operating partner Amtrak to decide if service adjustments are needed. If they are, changes are likely to go into effect March 28, authority officials said in email to riders.

Meanwhile, the Kansas City Streetcar Authority announced it has installed hand sanitizer dispensers on every streetcar vehicle and has begun cleaning all streetcars mid-day, including disinfection of high-contact areas. Operators also now spray down streetcar interior with disinfecting spray prior to departing the Union Station streetcar stop, KC Streetcar officials said in an email to riders.

In Canada, VIA Rail also has stepped up daily cleaning and disinfection at its stations, and has begun distributing disposal masks and hand sanitizer on trains, agency officials said in a press release.

VIA Rail also announced it will allow riders to cancel or modify their trip reservations at no charge during March and April.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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