Public transportation still running for essential workers and needs

VIDEO: Public transit still running for essential workers and needs

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Buses with the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority are still running right now, but officials are encouraging folks to only ride for essential work or essential needs.

CARTA's changes come in attempt to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

CARTA is operating on a reduced schedule for those who need to get to work or need to go to essential places like the grocery store.

“Transportation is a very important part of how America moves about, does commerce, and lives. And we don’t want to cut off people’s life line for, again, food, doctors, their job, these are all essential," CARTA Board Chairman Mike Seekings said. "So, it’s certainly changed the way we do business and the way we think about doing business, but it hasn’t changed our core mission, which is to move people about safely. And, safety is always part of it anyway, so this is just another layer, level of it.”

CARTA wants to be clear that they are not cutting out essential stops, they are just providing less frequent service to the stops.

This gives them more time to clean the buses throughout the day.

Seekings says CARTA is seeing a significant decrease in riders, but as long as even just a few people need to a ride, they will be operating.

These operations are similar for other surrounding area transportation services.

The "Palmetto Breeze" transit for Beaufort and Colleton County says its daily ridership is down about 50% from usual.

The "Coast" Regional Transportation Authority for Horry & Georgetown County says its seen about a 25% reduction in ridership as more and more people are not traveling. They said this reduction is happening in the mid-day or late in the evening, so they are NOT making changes during commute hours.

The Coast says they are also limiting capacity on all buses to 25 people. That capacity is usually 40.

MORE: Check CARTA schedules based on COVID-19 prevention changes here:

Social distancing is being enforced on all regional buses. People are asked to sit as far apart as possible.

They are also asking people to not ride if they are feeling sick.

“I just want to let people know this that these are challenging and new times for us in this region. We understand that people need to move about to get to work, if they’re still up and running, to get to food, to get to doctors, to get to those services that are out there," Seekings said. "Please do this in a responsible manner. Only ride if you have to, but if you have to, CARTA is there for you and will continue to be so long as there are places to go.”

CARTA says it will be running on its Sunday schedule every day now going forward. You can find out where buses are in real-time on the "Transit" app.

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