Downey suspends fares for municipal transit system

Wave Staff Report

DOWNEY — Residents are advised to stay home, if possible, to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, but for those who must go out, the city has made it easier financially.

The City Council Aug. 25 ratified the suspension of municipal transportation fares on local bus service, enacted by City Manager Gil Livas Aug. 19.

Livas, who acted at the request of Mayor Blanca Pacheco Aug. 11, has been appointed the city’s emergency management director.

The fare removal took effect immediately. There was no mention of how long it would last, a city spokesperson said.

Fares on the fixed route DowneyLink bus service are 50 cents per trip or $15 for a 30-day use pass.

Normal fares for the  pick up and take home Dial-A-Ride service for the elderly and handicapped service is also 50 per trip.

At the Aug. 11 council meeting, Pacheco called for the fare suspension to assist residents who may be financially affected by the shutdown of businesses because of the pandemic.

“This action will assist local patrons who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and who depend on the city’s transit system to transport them to and from essential business and work,” said Livas in a written report Aug. 25.

He added that not taking fares will allow increased distance between the driver and passengers.

The formal action, titled Executive Order No. 4, requires that buses be deep cleaned and wiped down each night, that bus operators are given gloves, hand sanitizer and wipes to be used during their shifts and that all drivers and passengers wear face masks.

All boarding is through the back door of buses, further increasing space between the driver and riders and that capacity on the full-sized DowneyLink vehicles is limited to 15 passengers at a time.

Capacity on the smaller Dial-A-Ride buses is limited to seven, Livas said in his report.

“The financial impact of the plan is unknown at this time,” he added.