The Portland region’s public transportation agency, TriMet, has seen a swift decrease in ridership amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
TriMet announced last week that it saw a significant drop in public transit ridership.
140,000 less people rode with us yesterday, compared to our weekday average from February.— TriMet (@trimet) March 19, 2020
We miss you, but thank you for not riding. You're keeping the Portland region safer. And for those of you who still have to ride – there's plenty of room to spread out and social distance.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” TriMet bus driver Cindy Kassab said. “Maybe on Christmas or Christmas Eve, but on a daily basis? No. This is really kind of eerie.”
Kassab said she’s been driving for TriMet for 44 years. She said coronavirus is on her mind, but she generally feels safe while doing her job.
“I think about it, but I try to keep my immune system up and sanitize and everything,” she said. “We do the best we can.”
TriMet said it has crews disinfecting trains, buses and other vehicles nightly. Those crews are also wiping down all major “touchpoints” at transit centers including Hop card validators, elevator buttons and pay phones.
Robert Beistel is continuing to ride TriMet during the pandemic.
“I’ve got to go to work,” Beistel said as he waited for a bus in downtown Portland. He works at a manufacturing company in Tualatin.
He said he’s not worried about himself getting sick, but does have concerns for others.
“Me getting sick, I’m not too worried about. I have a strong immune system,” Beistel said. “But, my sister’s in bad health, and if I did contract it then I couldn’t be around here or anybody in that matter.”
He added: “I take my precautions. When I get to work I wash my hands, and when I get home I wash my hands.”
TriMet said it’s encouraging all of the people who continue to use its services to practice social distancing measures, including spreading out by at least 3 feet from other riders. The agency encourages riders to give operators and drivers space as well.
TriMet also said it's re-evaluating its service offerings and could make changes based on information from
health authorities or because of staffing levels.