WASHINGTON — Despite COVID19 closing many businesses around the sate, the Washington County Mini Bus has not missed a day.
“The whole entire time we have been on the road 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday,” said Director Cris Gaughan.
The pandemic affected the business in many ways, she said, specifically financially. In April 2019, 5,932 riders were recorded. In April 2020, only 790 riders were recorded, about a 90 percent decrease, she said.
“Our fares income is substantial. They’re not riding so they’re not paying,” she said.
Due to the lack of ridership, Gaughan said there are only two buses on the road at a time instead of the usual 10. She is hoping to add a third driver and bus as more and more people call in for rides, she said.
Before the pandemic, a bus could hold anywhere from eight to 16 riders, she said. Now three to four at a time are allowed with social distancing guidelines in effect.
“Usually there’s not more than three people on a bus at a time so we are able to have the first two rows of seats behind the driver lifted so no one can sit there,” she said, explaining the rest of the riders have to stagger themselves in order to maintain a safe social distance.
All drivers have a checklist of sanitization tasks that need to be done before leaving the Mini Bus parking lot, at the end of the day and after every rider exits the bus, she said. Inside the bus shields are installed and masks and gloves are available to all passengers and drivers.
“We are just following the rules that are sent down to us and the drivers apply them,” she said.