By Brian W. Carter, Contributing Writer
Published March 26, 2020
Phil Washington, Metro CEO (Photo by Valerie Goodloe for Sentinel)
“I want to assure the public and Metro employees that we are doing everything possible to maintain a healthy and safe system for our customers who rely heavily on Metro buses and trains as their lifeline to get where they need to go throughout L.A. County,” said Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) CEO Phillip A. Washington.
As the COVID-19 quarantine across Los Angeles County continues, many Angelenos still need to use public transportation to continue daily life. Metro is letting the public know that their safety is a priority. Washington recently outlined aggressive steps taken by Metro to continue to provide transit service and to safeguard the riding public and Metro’s workforce in response to the current COVID-19 crisis.
Despite a decline in ridership by 50 to 60 percent due to school closings, people working from home, restaurant, bars and entertainment/sporting venue closures, the agency still saw more than 550,000 daily boardings last week. As people observe social distancing, bus and rail service will be adjusted that will result in slightly less service than offered on the typical weekday. Late night service on rail lines on Friday and Saturday nights will also be adjusted.
“Metro is not considering halting transit services at this time,” said Washington. “We know our services are extremely important to thousands of people in the most populous county in the United States, including first responders, hospital workers and essential county and city workers.
He continued, “I’ve been in the transit industry for two decades and was in the U.S. Army for 24 years before that and though this challenge is unique, and we are operating with an abundance of caution, we are not operating from a position of fear. We understand the devastating effects COVID-19 is having and Metro will do everything it can to ensure we get through this.”
Here are some additional changes Metro made recently including:
• Metro will begin installing and increasing sanitation stations and access to hand sanitizer at major transit stops and stations to allow riders to wash their hands, one of the best safeguards against the COVID-19 virus. Metro is also exploring and researching how to equip buses and trains with hand sanitizer dispensers to help control the virus.
• Metro has already strengthened its cleaning regimes within buses, trains, stations and facilities and all nonessential Metro employees are now working from home.
• Metro’s Headquarters building was closed to the public effective Wednesday, March 18, until further notice. All Metro Board of Directors meetings in March were also cancelled with all agenda items pushed to the next meeting.
Metro has also activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and established an Incident Management Team (IMT) to work with Metrolink, Amtrak, Access Services and Union Station. Metro is also in daily contact with the L.A. County Department of Public Health as well as city and county of Los Angeles emergency officials.
Metro’s primary direction to employees is to practice good personal hygiene, observe social distancing and other precautions. Staff who are more vulnerable have been directed to stay at home and service adjustments will allow more staff to care for their families.
Metro has stated there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 being contracted on Metro, nor is Metro aware of any staff member who has contracted COVID-19. Metro has nearly 11,000 employees.
Metro will be offering frequent updates about service throughout the COVID-19 crisis. We encourage the public to visit www.metro.net for the latest information.