In case you missed it, Milwaukee County Transit System has reduced its weekday bus service in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. This in addition to asking folks to limit any “non-essential bus travel.” Now, days after an MCTS driver tested positive for the virus, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors is proposing making the bus free for at least three weeks in order to protect both drivers and passengers.
In a letter addressed to County Executive Chris Abele, the Board says that “keeping the rides free and allowing passengers to enter through the side door will allow the safety drivers need to keep passengers away from the fare box/driver area.” The Board suggests that three weeks may be enough time to ensure “bus drivers will have the appropriate protective gear in order to continue bus services safely.”
The letter is signed by supervisors Deanna Alexander, Felesia Martin, Marcelia Nicholson, Silvia Ortiz-Velez, Steven Shea, Sequanna Taylor, and John Weishan.
Last week, Amalgamated Transit Local Union 988 President James Macon expressed fear that MCTS wasn’t doing enough to keep drivers safe during the COVID-19 crisis. “I understand how important the system is and most of the drivers understand how important the system is,” Macon told CBS 58. “Everybody is in the panic mode. All my drivers are in the panic mode because they have families, the older, day care you know. They are worried about their families also so that’s the issue, but if you are going to have the system running make sure people are protected.”
We’ll update this story when more information becomes available. Also, bus drivers are heroes.