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CARTS Ridership Down By About 50% Amid Outbreak

The number of riders on CARTS buses has decreased by about 50% amid the COVID-19 outbreak. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

There has been a decrease both in the number of riders and drivers for the Chautauqua Area Rural Transit System.

Brad Bentley, county public facilities director, said it has been a difficult situation since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

“Ridership is down and, paralleled with that, most of CARTS’ drivers are more on the retired side so they’re potential at-risk drivers. A number of them have selected to suspend driving for us and the county is understanding of that,” Bentley said. “It has been a challenging time, but we’re managing through the challenges, and have done it pretty well. Customers have helped us by not going on any unnecessary trips.”

Bentley said it depends on the route, but ridership is down about 50%.

“Some city fixed routes are still heavily used while rural routes are not,” he said. “We still probably have about two-thirds of our drivers still driving. We feel comfortable that we are still able to provide an essential service.”

Bentley said, during the pandemic, CARTS officials have eliminated Saturday service, but are still running during weekdays. He said there are four Jamestown fixed routes and two in Dunkirk that are still operating Monday through Friday. He added CARTS is still providing on-demand routes, which is when the transportation agency will take someone to their doctor’s appointment.

“If someone needs a ride, they can call CARTS like they always have,” he said. “We’re handling appointments just like we did before. We do ask if someone has flu symptoms to call their doctor first and follow the CDC guidelines.”

Bentley said riders are encouraged to practice social distancing while riding the buses. He said that drivers are also increasing the number of times they clean the buses.

“They’re taking the appropriate steps to keep CARTS running. We are here to provide an essential service,” he said.

“Obviously, we’ve been instructed not to transport anyone with the coronavirus.”

Bentley said riders with questions can call CARTS at 665-6466 in the south county and 366-4500 in the north county. He said people can also go to Facebook/CARTS.NY for the latest information on the transit system.

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