New York city buses will only be back on Monday to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the MTA and its bus operator unions announced on Friday.
Passengers who do not have reduced mobility will be required to enter buses on local routes and “Select Bus Service” through the back door, in accordance with the new policy.
On local routes, cyclists will no longer enter near the fare box, which is right next to the driver’s seat, effectively eliminating fare collection on these routes, said an MTA source.
The collection of fares will continue on certain bus services and on express routes.
On board express charter buses, which carry passengers between the ends of the city and its heart of Manhattan, passengers must sit at least three rows behind the driver.
“This is the right decision,” said president of Local 100 transportation workers Tony Utano in a statement. “This will better protect our bus operators, give them some peace of mind and demonstrate that their concerns have been heard.”
Bus numbers have dropped as a result of the epidemic – but at a slower rate than on metros and commuter trains, whose passengers tend to have relatively higher incomes.
The announcement of the new policy comes the day after the MTA confirmed that employees at the Fresh Pond bus depot had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
Thursday evening, the MTA had confirmed 23 cases of coronavirus positive among its 74,000 people.
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