By the end of April, every MARTA bus route will be operational. Representatives said it's because they've installed new technology that they hope will help protect riders from the coronavirus. The trains will run as they have during the pandemic, as representatives said there's plenty of room for social distance.
For almost exactly a year, MARTA bus riders have had to make do with the limited routes available because of the pandemic.
Some were forced to walk at least a mile to catch a bus to essential establishments such as the grocery store or pharmacy.
"I have to say thanks to the customer service team," MARTA's Deputy General Manager of Operations, Collie Greenwood said. "They are the ones who have been fielding calls. I can't begin to tell you how pleased they were to be able to tell you the routes were coming back."
MARTA will restore the routes because of recent upgrades to the vehicles.
"We worked to put a lot of features in place," Greenwood said.
Now that all 500-plus buses have shields for operators and a new air filtration system that pumps fresh air into the bus every 75 seconds, the 60, or so, routes that were halted for social distancing will be back in service before May.
MARTA said that new technology and the twice-daily cleaning will help reduce transmission of the virus.
Buses will pick up more riders too, but you won't see them packed.
"Our buses are not yet able to go to full capacity. We are able to go to a full seated load which is twice as much as what can be seated today," Greenwood said.
Representatives said case numbers and vaccination rates did not play a role in the decision to restore routes, but both are an added plus.
"If they continue in the right direction that'll help us go beyond the full seated load," Greenwood said.
Expect MARTA to operate all 110 bus routes on April 24. Masks are still mandatory.
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