CULVER CITY, Calif. – In California, public transportation ridership is down about 50 percent from this time last year, according to the Bureau of Transportation. But there are still riders who rely on buses and trains, so Culver City is working to protect these passengers during the pandemic.

Chief Transportation Officer for Culver City, Rolando Cruz, helped implement many changes to the Culver City Bus system once the pandemic began in March. The buses now have hand sanitizer stations, plexiglass to protect drivers, and a lower capacity limit to reduce crowding. 

What You Need To Know

  • Public transportation statewide is down roughly 50 percent since this time last year

  • In Culver City, use is down about 80 percent, although many still rely on public transportation

  • Culver City has implemented measures to protect riders from the virus

  • Measures include hand sanitizer stations, plexiglass to protect drivers, and reduced capacity

“When this first started, our ridership was down 80 percent, but there was still that 20 percent that needed to get around. When we talked about health and safety, it was not only our operators, we made sure we kept in mind the health and safety of our passengers,” said Cruz.

Cruz says essential workers rely on this service to get around, so the city needed to do what it could to not only make them feel comfortable, but also keep the drivers safe.

“It’s our commitment to the public. There are so many people that are transit dependent. We wanted to be able to respect our passengers, those who were having to ride and those who were choosing to ride,” said Cruz.

One rider, Eleanor, relies on public transportation. She is an essential worker. Her job as a caregiver didn’t stop during the pandemic, so she continued to use the Culver City Bus to get to and from work. She says it has been less busy and she feels pretty safe, even noticing the changes Culver City has made.

“I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all, which is good due to the pandemic. It’s OK,” said Eleanor.

Eleanor also says the buses aren't crowded and she witnessed drivers limiting passengers saying, “They wouldn’t let us in and we didn’t know why. We later learned it was at capacity due to the pandemic."

Cruz says if riders like Eleanor are worried about keeping a social distance, their new app allows you to see how many people are on each bus. If you use the live bus tracker, it will now tell you if ridership is low, medium, or high.

“There is an individual decision that every passenger is trying to make, so for those who need more space, they get to make a better decision,” said Cruz.

Before starting the work day, employees from management to bus operators in Culver City must sanitize their hands, get their temperatures taken, and go through a coronavirus screening process. Buses are also cleaned and sanitized in high-touch areas to limit the risk of spreading coronavirus.