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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Public Transit In The Time Of Coronavirus

Courtesy of
An unidentified worker sprays the inside of a bus.

Ridership is down because of people sheltering or working at home, but Metro is still running and a spokeswoman says they're cleaning the buses thoroughly.

"We are an essential service that many in our community depend on even now to get to work, to grocery stores for supplies, and for other necessary travel. As of now we are continuing to operate regular service," says Brandy Jones.

She says all the buses, and the facilities like Government Square, are being treated with a chlorinated disinfecting spray. "We are using an electrostatic sprayer, which promotes surface adhesion on poles, seats, stanchions, et cetera."

Jones says Metro is also trying to protect drivers by limiting their exposure. "We also encourage customers to pay using the app and to exit the bus via the back door to prevent unnecessary contact."

Metro's web site has a specific page set aside for COVID-19 information. It includes many of the tips already shared: avoid close contact with people who are sick, wash your hands, don't touch your face.

Metro says it has activated a Transit Emergency Operation Team, which meets weekly to discuss the next steps in the pandemic.

The Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky is changing its bus schedules. All routes in Covington will run on the Sunday schedule every day. Those express routes that don't have Sunday schedules won't run.

Riders are asked to only enter and exit by the rear door, and fares have been dropped altogether. This is to reduce drivers' exposure.

Passengers with mobility or accessibility issues will still board through the front door.

TANK is asking that riders reduce travel and maintain distance with each other as a way to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.