COVID-19 dramatically impacts Guntersville public transportation ridership

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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – The city of Guntersville’s public transportation has seen a big drop in ridership because of COVID-19.

“There’s so many people who are not able to get where they need to go. I personally have always had a vehicle. There’s many people who don’t,” said transportation director Lori Kirkland.

“Doctors visits in Boaz. Sometimes there’s doctor appointments that we have in Arab now. Instead of having their family take off, they just call us,” said Kirkland.

In February, there were 1,540 passenger trips. Kirkland said the trips in July were less than half that.

“We have a lot of people that are not able to ride the bus right now because of various reasons. They may have serious health conditions and they’re afraid to be on the vehicle,” explained Kirkland.

“We maintain social distancing, so we can only have three passengers on a bus at a time. So, that’s why we have caution tape on seats,” said driver Wayne Hunt.

The drivers must wear masks when riders are on the bus. Masks are recommended for riders, but are not required. Drivers have masks for riders if they choose to wear one but do not have one.

The drivers also wipe down the major touch points on the bus and use disinfectant spray twice a day.

There is an added protective barrier for the drivers and riders are asked to put their money in a tub by the door when they enter.

Kirkland told WHNT News 19 that while they are taking every precaution to keep riders and drivers safe, she understands why some haven’t returned to the buses.

“They just are choosing to be independent and not get on the bus because they know the public is on the bus and there’s a chance that they can be exposed,” explained Kirkland.

The city of Guntersville typically matches federal funding to pay for the department, but because of COVID-19, the public transportation department is being 100% funded by the CARES Act.

Kirkland said so far, none of her employees have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Click here for more information on the City of Guntersville public transportation.

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