COVID-19 update; May 5


Nice article in NYT today about the New York MTA using poetry to soothe the jangled nerves of current and hopefully riders. And more here about LA Metro’s Poetry in Motion program.

From the L.A. County Department of Public Health: 

On the upside, our local hospitals have not been overwhelmed by patients needed care for coronavirus. But the number of cases in L.A. has been increasing since about mid-April. Charts are here at the LAT. I greatly encourage everyone to not fall for the nonsense that sprawling L.A. County is fundamentally different from other places that have been hit hard by coronavirus.

•We can’t emphasize this enough: stay home if you can. Buses and trains are running but for essential trips only. The best way to keep our bus operators and riders safe is not ride unless you have an essential trip — commuting to an essential job, going to the grocery or doctor or taking care of someone or you have a legally-mandated reason to ride.

•Construction continues on Metro projects. Here’s a view of an entirely-closed stretch of Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills — we’re using the break in traffic to get as much work done as we can on the future Wilshire/Rodeo Station.

In the news…

The LAT looks at the challenges facing Metro bus operators during the pandemic. One huge concern is protective gear. Excerpt:

The agency has ordered more than 1 million protective items, including more than 700,000 bottles of personal hand sanitizer and 10,000 face shields, spokesman Dave Sotero said. He said the wait time between an order and delivery can be two to four weeks.

Metro has distributed tens of thousands of surgical masks and bottles of hand sanitizer, and is doing “everything possible to ensure a safe work environment,” Sotero said, calling the drivers “truly dedicated and heroic public servants.”

He added: “Their concerns about safety are understandable given the grave threat this public health crisis poses.”

In a follow-up, one Metro Board Member has called for making the wearing of masks/coverings by all riders mandatory.

•For my money, David Quammen is one of the best science writers in the world and his 201 book “Spillover” explained how deadly viruses jump from animals to humans. In the latest issue of the New Yorker, Quammen looks at why many places in the world (but not all) were so ill-prepared to deal with the coronavirus — even though the 2003 SARS epidemic was also caused by a coronavirus and strict measures stopped that outbreak. This is a must read, me thinks.

•The NYT looks at bus operators in London — where 28 have died of COVID-19 — and at a busy bus yard in the Bronx.

•In an effort to promote social distancing, the state of Georgia has dropped driving tests as part of getting a driver’s license, reports Complex.

•The neighborhood council in the Del Rey neighborhood of L.A. wanted to close some streets to give people more room to walk and bike during the safer-at-home orders, reports the LAT. The city, citing advice from health officials, pushed back. The bigger issue is whether our region will follow suit of other metro areas and close streets with more people out sans their cars. Good article.

10 replies

  1. “I greatly encourage everyone to not fall for the nonsense that sprawling L.A. County is fundamentally different from other places that have been hit hard by coronavirus.”

    While it should be obvious that this area’s sprawl is not allowing us to dodge a bullet, it is hopeful that those advocating New York (or China) style density are seeing the dangers of aspiring to that way of living.

  2. Thank you metro for keeping the bus service up and running during this ungodly pandemic that has affected the whole nation terribly.
    I totally depend on this service to go to work and back since the company I work for did not close, and expects us all to report to work everyday at 6.00 AM. I would have surely lost my job if metro would’ve stop running because of the pandemic. You know, I really appreciate the work of the the bus operator who takes us to our destination and back!! Metro would no be able to service the community without the bus operator! I travel from Eagle Rock to Burbank (since I work in Burbank) and I was afraid that I would be terribly late for work everyday due to the weekly bus schedule modification, not the case. I use line 794 and it is right on time every morning at Fletcher Drive and San Fernando Rd. I always say “thank you” every time I board the bus and when I get off at my destination, simply, because I feel like it.


    • Hi Raymond;

      Thank you for sticking with us and for taking the time to leave the kind words — we really appreciate it and I’ll make sure your comment gets forwarded to the internal communications team so they can share with the entire staff.

      Again, thanks for riding and reading and please stay safe,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. I suspect the NYT article on bus drivers is based on one carried by the Financial Times. This said that the fatality rate among London bus drivers was higher than that for National Health Service workers.

  4. I boarded the metro 720 bus, on 5th and Santa Monica about 8:50am, on 5/4. This driver almost past me up as I was waving for him to stop. I was well dressed as I was going to my first doctor appointment since my spine surgery in early March. This isn’t my first issue with this line. Either they are late, once didn’t show that particular schedule. My doctors are at Cedars Sinai, not around the corner. I now take an earlier bus, but it can be stressful riding the metro. The drivers are not terribly friendly as some of the riders can be difficult.

    • Hi Robin;

      If you are having a problem with a particular bus line — including being passed up — please file a complaint with our Customer Relations department. Please include all the details — what number bus line, location of bus stop, date and time of day and direction of travel. These complaints do get investigated and are helpful! Here is the online customer comment form:

      Thank you!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Thank you Steve for the information. I wrote all the info down in my phone and will use the link you provided me.

  5. I always exit the bus in the front and thank the bus driver. They are the hardest working employees of the entire Metro system.

  6. We continually hear “shout outs ” for doctors, nurses, police officers and fire fighters etc. But I have never heard a “shout out” from public officials or the news media for the brave Bus Operators serving our community. While I never had to work during a pandemic, I did work during our areas riots and earthquakes which put a strain on RTD/MTA employees. Those at the MTA including the board members should put out the message that what the MTA is doing is very important to our community as well.