COVID-19 update, Monday, March 23

•As of Monday morning, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has confirmed 409 cases of COVID-19 virus in the county with five deaths. Those numbers are expected to rise as testing increases.

•Metro has stepped up cleaning, we’ve directed Metro bus operators to use the protective barriers installed in bus cabs and we continue to remind everyone that the best defense for everyone includes:

–Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water. Hand washing tips from the CDC are here. And try not to touch your face.

–Stay home if you are sick.

–Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue.

–Make sure you are using a robust, regular cleaning schedule for frequently touched surfaces such as cell phones and computers.

•As of today, Metro is only allowing riders to enter and exit the rear door of our buses to help protect Metro’s bus operators. Wheelchair users can still use the front door. If you have a bike, please tell the bus operator before exiting so you have time to take the bike off the bike rack. More info here.

We’ve received many questions about how to pay fares since the TAP validators/farebox are located at the front of most Metro buses. The answer:

Metro encourages social distancing. Please board the rear of the bus and while you are not expected to use the fare box or tap validator at the front of the bus, please have a loaded TAP card.

•With many people staying at home, Metro will continue to run service as a lifeline to the community. But with ridership down, Metro did announce service adjustments on Friday. Here they are:

Metro Bus service levels will be reduced 15 to 20 percent and we will try to strategically adjust select trips across the system to minimize inconvenience to riders and continue to provide good service on our busiest lines that riders depend on. To emphasize: we’re trying to reduce a bit of service across the board but do so in a way that won’t result in long waits for riders. We do recommend that you allow some extra time. 

Please note that NexTrip is going to be unreliable during this time — the system isn’t set up to adjust this quickly. 

On the rail side, service will also be adjusted with trains running slightly less frequently during peak hours, meaning riders may have to wait a few minutes more for trains. There will be no late night service on Fridays and Saturdays. 

More specifically:

–Starting Friday night and until further notice, last trips departing terminal stations will be at midnight on all trains.

–Starting on Monday, March 23, trains on the B (Red), D (Purple), A (Blue), E (Expo) and L (Gold) Lines will run every 12 minutes between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. with 20 minute service at all other times. We will try to run as many three car trains as possible on these light rail lines to maintain social distancing for riders. D (Purple) Line trains will have four cars and B (Red) Line trains will have six cars.

–Starting Monday, the C (Green) Line will run ever 12 minutes from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m. and then run every 15 minutes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 12 minutes from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and then every 20 minutes between 6 p.m. through midnight. Those trains will be two-car trains, as per usual.

•Health officials continue to encourage people to stay at home if possible to help prevent the spread of the virus — and to take key precautions.

This map includes pertinent information such as elderly meal services, grab and go food locations and updated COVID-1i case counts. Use the dots on the left side of the screen to see information for a variety of services.

In the news…

•The closure of LAUSD schools has been extended to at least May 1, reports the LAT.

Here is the LAT article from Friday on service adjustments and what Metro is doing to protect riders and staff from the virus. The story also notes that Metro will be taking a budget hit — both in the form of fewer revenues from fares and, especially, less sales tax revenue. Voters in L.A. County — in 1980, 1990, 2008 and 2016 — have approved sales taxes to fund Metro and transit expansion.

Of course, Metro is hardly alone. Many other large transit agencies will face similar challenges (not to mention businesses and employees). The New York MTA last week asked for $4 billion in funds from the federal government.

Here’s a pie chart from LA Metro’s adopted budget for the current fiscal year that shows where the agency’s revenues come from — it shows how important the local sales taxes are.

Streetsblog LA takes a look at how other transit agencies in our region are handling the COVID-19 virus.

•With ridership down 90 percent and future bookings vastly decreased, Amtrak is cutting salaries and benefits, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

•Traffic and the associated air pollution has plummeted across the U.S., reports the NYT — which has some interesting satellite-based maps that show the increase in air quality.

•NPR’s Morning Edition had a good segment this morning on how long it will take the U.S. to stamp out COVID-19 and what those efforts might look like beyond what’s happening in the next few weeks.

•A good first-person account of staying at home for 45 days in China in the New Yorker if you have time for a longer read.


Things to Listen to Whilst or Whilst Not Transiting: There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from virus news. I just started listening to the second season of The City podcast which looks at gentrification in Reno, Nevada, (the area has turned into a big data hub) and efforts to close adult venues there — which have been a mainstay of the city for decades. Very interesting. Warning: adult language.


2 replies

  1. You wrote: “Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue” Really, You think coughing or sneezing towards your elbow area actually has any effect? Even wearing a mask has limited droplet reduction. Me, I’m not riding Metro until this is all over.

    • So let me guess, just sneeze and cough droplets in the air is much better? Yes believe it or not it makes a HUGE DIFFERENCE as most of those droplets are thrown towards one general area that people can immediately avoid rather than become forced to breathe droplets and possibly become expose. Really wish people would look at the bigger picture.

      Also, the point is to avoid travel by metro at all cost. As expensive as it’s been to go back to driving, I’ve been avoiding exposure that way.