COVID-19 and mask update; Monday, May 17

Nichole S. Gehr

Reminder: face masks are still required on public transportation. Wear a mask on Metro. pic.twitter.com/3GX5G9z5Qb — LA Metro (@metrolosangeles) May 14, 2021 For those wondering, masks are still required on public forms of transportation 😷pic.twitter.com/Ad9M9CIaQy — TransportationGov (@USDOT) May 17, 2021   Let’s start with the obvious thing in the […]

 

Let’s start with the obvious thing in the news: face masks, COVID-19 and mass transit. As you are likely aware, the CDC said last week that people who have been vaccinated no longer need masks outdoors and, in some cases, indoors.

Well, not so fast.

Both Metro and the federal government (the TSA, to be exact) still require riders on mass transit to continue to wear face masks. The federal mask order went into effect this past winter and doesn’t expire until Sept. 13. Metro has also been requiring riders to wear face masks and coverings since early May 2020.

What happens beyond September — like many things pandemic-related — is to be determined.

But right here and right now: Metro believes the combination of getting vaccinated and wearing a face mask makes riding transit very safe.

As a reminder, Metro has installed mask dispensers on our buses, trains and in rail stations for those who need one. Point of emphasis part 2: even if you have been vaccinated, please continue to wear a mask to protect yourself and others.

In addition:

•Three vaccination clinics opened next week at Metro stations: Harbor Gateway on the J Line (Silver) and other bus lines; Crenshaw/105 on the C Line (Green) and Del Amo on the A Line (Blue). More info here.

•Metro’s official app — Transit — began showing vaccination locations in April on its trip planner; more here.

•Transit can also be used to see crowding levels on buses.

•Average weekday boardings on Metro in April was about 621,000 — the most since March 2020 when safer-at-home orders first began.

•In response, Metro will be adding back more bus service in June and is planning on returning to full pre-pandemic bus service levels in September.

Other Metro News

The Metro Board’s Executive Management Committee will take up the issue at their meeting at noon on Thursday, May 20; the meeting will be live-streamed. If the Committee advances the proposal, the full Board will consider it at their meeting at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 27.

 

The $8-billion budget is for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

If the LAT’s Bill Plaschke is correct and the Dodgers are to be the best team in baseball history, I think they have to go something like 95-27 the rest of the way. Which should be fun to watch.

And if you need a smile, please check out the latest below from Metro Art Presents and the Autry Present — the performance in the Union Station Historic Ticketing Hall looks and sounds terrific.

 

In the media…

•California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that $1 billion in state funds will be available in the next fiscal year to help build critical transit projects get built in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, reports the LAT. Metro is working on several such projects — and has more in the planning pipeline. Stay tuned.

•A new conundrum facing transit agencies: if too many people telecommute in the future, transit agencies may be deprived of riders that support agencies through fares, reports Bloomberg.

Of course, some agencies depend on fares more than others — and Metro, not so much as the bulk of our funding comes from local sales taxes and other sources. Another concern is that those who still commute may switch to driving, clogging up riders.

There is, as always, another side to the coin. More telecommuting could mean less traffic. And it’s kind of hard to imagine the years ahead will be much like the past one — it’s reasonable to guess a hybrid future in which office life persists but there’s more flexible time options for some workers.

•Who knew? The New York MTA has chaplains to help staff cope with a variety of issues, including the pandemic — which claimed lives of more than 100 workers at the agency. From the NYT:

Ms. Morton occupies a rare niche — the M.T.A., which runs New York’s subway, buses and two commuter rails, is one of the few transit agencies in the country to have a chaplaincy program. In a typical year, it helps employees deal with stresses like abusive passengers or deaths on the tracks, as well as more personal problems.

But the pandemic was something else entirely, ravaging the nation’s largest transit agency, emptying trains and buses and sickening and killing its workers at a devastating rate. More than 160 workers have died from Covid-19 and thousands more have contracted the virus.

Compounding the crisis, about 60 people were fatally struck by trains last year, about the same number as the year before, even though ridership plunged. And there were concerns over potential layoffs before an infusion of federal aid helped rescue the M.T.A. from a financial free fall.

Speaking of the New York MTA, 24-hour subway service recently returned — a great milestone in pandemic recovery.

And finally to get you through the rest of Monday…

 

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