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The regional transit agency says the drop in ridership is proof that regional residents are taking precautions against COVID-19

PMG FILE PHOTO - TriMet is adding safety shields to protects drivers in its buses.TriMet ridership continues to fall because of restrictions imposed to fight the spread of COVID-19

According to the regional transit agency, the number of trips provided for the week of April 5 were down 68% from the February weekly average. While the February weekly average was more than 1.9 million trips across TriMet fixed-route buses, MAX Light Rail and WES Commuter Rail, the number of rides last week was 602,280.

"That's an indication that people are following the direction of the Governor and health experts. We look forward to seeing our riders again, but appreciate those who are staying home and not riding unless they absolutely must," a TriMet spokesperson said Tuesday, March 14.

The decline prompted TriMet to reduce service on April 5.

TriMet has not yet said how much ridership and payroll revenue it is losing because of the restrictions and economic slowdown. It has not laid off or furloughed any employees yet.

The agency also said it is continue to improve operator and rider safety, as follows:

• TriMet has received more than 10,000 disposable masks and face coverings that are being distributed to frontline staff, including operators. The agency has also received donations of reusable, washable cloth masks that will be used to protect employees.

• TriMet has also contracted with a local events planner, Cindy Thompson, who has turned her attention away from coordinating large gatherings to manufacturing face coverings. Thompson and her team are making 2,000 coverings for the agency as it tries tto maintain a constant supply for operators and other mandatory employees who must travel for work or interact with the public.

• TriMet is also encouraging riders to cover up their nose and mouth by producing new signs for buses that recommend riders also use face coverings, while reminding them to maintain 6 feet of distance from the operator and other passengers.

• TriMet is speeding up our installation of operator safety panels due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Half of the buses already have the safety glass enclosure next to the operator's seat, which is mainly to protect operators from potential assaults. The agency authorized $2.7 million to retrofit the rest of its bus fleet in March with such panels as an added safety measure against COVID-19. It expects to have safety panels on all buses by the end of July.

"Those of us at TriMet are encouraged to see signs that COVID-19 precautions appear to be working in our area. However, to keep cases low and protect the health of our riders, operators and other employees, we join health experts, as well as state and local leaders, in encouraging people to stay home and hold the line in the fight against the virus," the agency said.

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