DDOT & SMART buses resume fares, increased capacity on Monday

Posted at 5:25 AM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-15 12:24:27-04

(WXYZ) — If you take the bus around metro Detroit, both DDOT and SMART will resume bus fares on Monday. Both topped taking fares last year in an effort to limit any possible coronavirus exposure.

On top of that, the capacity will increase to 20 passengers per bus, instead of 10, and 26 for the longer buses.

“There’s nothing that’s been increased or adjusted or changed in any way. It’s basically just a matter of actually turning the system back on," SMART Deputy GM Robert Cramer said.

The halting of fares hit transit workers hard. In early April 2020, more than 100 DDOT drivers were in quarantine, and then, a devastating loss.

Driver Jason Hargrove died after posting a video, sharing concerns over a rider openly coughing near him and other passengers. It prompted demands by the drivers for better protection.

“Every single vehicle that is out on the road will have a barrier. If it does not have a barrier it’s not going out on the road," Detroit Transit Director Mikel Oglesby said.

According to Oglesby, DDOT took a three-stop approach to make sure drivers felt safe before fares resumed.

“We provided masks for the operators and for the riders. We have installed permanent barriers between the rider and the operator. And last but not least we offered all of our operators the vaccine," he said.

SMART buses are undergoing upgrades now to replace temporary shields with permanent barriers for drivers.

Because fare collection starts back up, riders will be boarding from the front again instead of the back.

“We’ve got two hand sanitizer stations on every bus, one at the front door and one at the back," Cramer said.

In addition, riders must wear masks, including at bus stops, per a federal mandate that took effect last month.

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