The Regional Transit Service has extended its temporary fare waiver through April 29 to coincide with the extension of the state's shutdown order.
The bus service initially waived fares on March 19 through April 19, with the idea being to keep public transportation available for those who need it and cut riders a financial break during a health crisis that has robbed many of their livelihoods.
Despite the free fare, ridership has dropped by half since the coronavirus outbreak, as fear and state orders for nonessential workers to stay home has many regular passengers abandoning the bus.
"RTS continues to encourage customers to follow the guidance of elected leaders and health experts by staying home whenever possible and limiting travel to essential rides only," read an RTS statement issued Wednesday. "This includes trips to destinations such as the grocery store, pharmacy and medical facilities. RTS also encourages customers to maintain a distance of six feet between each other on the bus, at the RTS Transit Center and at bus stops."
In normal times during the school year, some 50,000 passengers ride RTS buses each weekday, and fares generate about $800,000 a month in revenue, according to the agency's budget.
David Andreatta is CITY's editor. He can be reached at email@example.com.