Chatham Area Transit extends COVID-19 safety precautions, reduced schedule

Chatham Area Transit extends COVID-19 safety precautions, reduced schedule

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Chatham Area Transit Authority voted Tuesday to extend emergency measures in place in response to COVID-19.

The reduced services and safety measures will now possibly continue until the next board meeting on May 26. According to a news release from CAT, “it is anticipated that these measures will remain in effect until state and local officials lift shelter in place orders and it is determined normal operations can be safely resumed. If the emergency measures remain necessary past the next CAT Board meeting on May 26, staff will request approval of an additional extension.”

The reduced services and safety measures were first implemented in March, which include a reduced schedule, limited bus capacity, rear-door boarding and waiving of fares to minimize operator and customer contact.

Until normal operations resume, customers should only use CAT services, including fixed-route buses and CAT Mobility paratransit, for essential trips such as medical appointments, grocery shopping and work.

The board discussed the overall financial impact of removing fares during Tuesday’s meeting.

“I think we can continue fare free until it’s safe enough where it won’t matter where people come in. Because paying is the only time where it’s at risk to our drivers. We can shield off that front part of the bus safely with what we’re doing now at the back end,” CAT Board Chairperson Michael O’Halloran said.

CATs staff said they are losing about $45,000 a week implementing the COVID-19 emergency measures, which includes not charging a fare.

CAT also recommends patrons continue using cloth face coverings if they are not wearing masks while riding the buses or CAT Mobility.

The revised bus operating hours are 5 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sundays. The modified schedule for each route is available online at https://www.catchacat.org/modified-bus-schedules/.

The board also voted to extend the authority of interim Executive Director/CEO Michael J. Brown to amend the emergency measures, if necessary, before the next board meeting on May 26.

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