By Jensen, Randy on April 4, 2020.
In response to the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, Lethbridge Transit will no longer be offering regular bus routes within the city, and the bus service itself will be transitioning to a ride-by-reservation service model while the pandemic continues.
All regular routes will be temporarily cancelled as of next Wednesday, says City Transit operations manager Scott Grieco, but bus service can be booked for essential travel, including grocery or medication shopping, attending medical appointments or going to and from work.
“This will ensure public transit will remain a safe and viable service for those who need it most,” says Grieco. “We recognize this is going to be a huge change for our riders and our staff, and we ask for everyone’s patience and understanding while we work through this challenging time.”
To book a bus ride for essential reasons transit users are being asked to reserve their travel times online no later than 4:30 p.m. the day before they want to travel at lethbridge.ca/reserve-a-ride. Or to call 403-359-6558.
Confirmation of a booking will come via email.
“This reservation will identify the time and bus stop location the rider will be picked up and dropped off at,” Grieco says. “It will not provide door-to-door service.”
If you are a regular transit user who needs daily service, you can subscribe online on the City’s reserve-a-ride website a week in advance.
All transit users with mobility aids are also now being asked to call Access-A-Ride at 403-329-6464, and to avoid using regular transit as loading ramp services on normal buses have been discontinued while the outbreak lasts.
Grieco says no further transit staff will be laid off due to these service changes.
“With this format of transit by reservation, it gives us an opportunity to stagger our staff,” he explains. “We obviously need a certain amount of resources to put this together with ride by reservation because we now have to have booking lines set up. We have to analyze all those reservations coming in, they have to be booked, and that takes a lot of co-ordination. We will be utilizing our existing resources. So there will be no further layoffs at this time.”
Grieco thanks the bus-riding public for its ongoing patience as transit service continues to adapt to meet AHS requirements during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“This is all happening very fast,” he admits. “Across the country ridership is down, and transit properties across the country are trying to find ways to social distance, and this (transit-by-reservation system) was a very good idea for the safety of our operators and the safety of the public. It has taken a lot for this team to put this together because we are basically revamping the way transit is going to operate starting on Wednesday.”
If anyone has further questions about how these changes will affect them, they are encouraged to call the City of Lethbridge’s 311 Call Centre.
Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter