KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Bus services in the Kansas City area will be reduced as COVID-19 continues to spread in the community at an unprecedented rate.
The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority on Tuesday said that it would temporarily scale back some RideKC transit services beginning Monday, Nov. 23.
Core RideKC routes that operate every 15 minutes will continue at the same level of service, while lower frequency routes will be temporarily canceled.
KCATA CEO Robbie Makinen told 41 Action News that the organization is "going to err on the side of caution" to ensure they can keep customers and operators safe.
"The rollbacks of service or will end up being just like they were in March of this year," Makinen said.
KCATA and Kansas City, Missouri, officials say they recommend people only take the bus for essential trips, including groceries, physical and mental health needs, and essential jobs, including health care, food service and essential production.
“RideKC will continue to provide essential service to riders at zero fare,” Makinen said in a news release. “If customers must make essential trips, they can have confidence that RideKC is continuing all of the safety protocols that have been in place consistently throughout the pandemic, such as a mask requirement, rear door boarding and limiting the number of seats available.”
Makinen told 41 Action News that providing service at no charge is "critical" in giving people access when they need it most.
"I would say that our transit system has been the lifeline that keeps the city breathing, especially when it during a pandemic like this," Makinen said.
Amid the higher community spread, KCATA said that it’s seeing more absenteeism among its bus operators.
Last week, RideKC said that one bus operator has tested positive for COVID-19 in November. Between April and October, nine operators tested positive for the virus.
Contact tracing has found that operators are becoming exposed to COVID-19 mostly from activities and risks outside the workplace, according to KCATA.
For more information on RideKC schedules and routes, visit the RideKC website.