Transit service suffers cuts in response to pandemic
Yamhill County Transit announced last week it is scaling back its services as the number of riders wane in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The service — which operates in Yamhill County and has connections to TriMet, Cherriots and the Tillamook County Transit District — has discontinued Routes 5 and 7 in Newberg, although services are available for riders seeking some essential needs. The agency is following the lead of others in the area, including Salem-based Cherriots and Portland-based TriMet, and is seeing an estimated 10% reduction in services. YCT officials estimated that ridership has declined precipitously and was at 21% as of last week.
YCT will also discontinue the first round-trip loop on Route 33 (5:55 a.m. and 7 a.m.) and Route 44 (6:25 a.m. and 7:52 a.m.)
The agency also announced last week that it has implemented a fare-free system and will continue it until Gov. Kate Brown ends the "stay at home" order.
"Our primary goal is to keep everyone safe and keep transit services operating as long as feasible so essential workers can get to employment and transit-dependent riders can get to the doctor, pharmacy and grocery store, etc.," said YCT Manager Cynthia Thompson.
The reduction in services parallels the agency's cuts in staff as the pandemic continues.
"We are extremely appreciative that most riders are doing their part to limit exposure and staying home according to federal and local authorities' requests," Thompson said. "YCT asks riders to please wear face masks or covering of some type when riding the bus and to adhere to the recommended six-foot social distancing standard."
The agency is doing its part to keep riders and drivers healthy by regularly disinfecting their vehicles throughout the day and in the evenings after the buses are returned to McMinnville.
YCT officials said they are continuing to monitor the availability of funds through the federal CARES Act, receipt of which could allow the agency to increase service once more. YCT may also be eligible for state funds targeting transit agencies that the state has received from the federal government.
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