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Then and now: Ridership numbers and the COVID-19 pandemic

KSN Digital Extra

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita Transit is being cautious amid the COVID-19 pandemic. They have been sanitizing their buses and vans from top to bottom. Officials say the disinfectants used to sanitize the vehicles are EPA approved.

“I come in first thing in the morning and I mix up about six gallons of disinfectant, it’s in the EPA registered list for taking care of the coronavirus — we use that to wipe down the inners of all of the buses and the paratransit vans, our counters and we also use it as a mist in our sprayers,” said Marc Smith, Senior Store Keeper.

Wichita Transit says it’s seeing a decrease of 30% in their total ridership traffic and are down approximately 12% in ridership compared to last year.

Officials say the Q-LINE trolley service is currently suspended, and their paratransit service numbers are down significantly. 

“We are seeing a decrease in ridership, but it’s not as much as others have seen nationally, at least as of yet, but it is something to consider,” said Nathaniel Hinkel, Senior Communication Specialist for Wichita Transit.

Hinkel says the decrease in riders may actually be a positive thing given the need for social distancing.

“In this case, it’s certainly something we are ok with because the way that we look at it is those are the people that are trying to, you know, flatten the curve,” said Hinkel “By limiting their travel to essential trips only, staying home — so if there’s ever a time we see a decrease in ridership, this is when it’s ok and we just hope we get to see them again once this is all over.”

He says the city drivers are given protective masks, gloves, and disinfectant if they want it. Hand sanitizers are being placed on all the buses for passengers and drivers.

“We’re just doing everything we can to make it the safest environment possible, safety is always our number one priority that’s with our passengers and drivers alike,” Hinkle said.

Hinkle added people should continue to follow health official’s guidelines and stay home if they feel sick.

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