The Westchester County executive delivered his weekly briefing Monday, and announced that the bus system will resume standard operation after Labor Day.
Democratic County Executive George Latimer says Westchester’s Bee-Line Bus System will resume front-door boarding and charging fares September 8.
“We have a bus fleet of over 300 buses, and we have new buses that have been built and paid for that have certain built-in protections but, for the existing buses, we had to retrofit them,” says Latimer.
All buses are now outfitted with protective barriers that provide floor-to-ceiling plastic sheeting around bus operators. Following the COVID outbreak in March, passengers began boarding buses through the back door and fares were lifted.
“They’ve also changed the yellow line that exists in the bus where you can stand up to a point and not be too close to the front of the bus,” Latimer says. “That yellow line has been moved back for rider protection and for bus driver protection.”
The Bee-Line Bus system is a public/private partnership with Liberty Lines, whose management along with transport union workers advocated for the protective measures. Bee-Line has the second highest ridership of any bus system in the state. New York City is number one. Latimer spoke at Liberty Lines bus depot in Valhalla, referring to a bus behind him.
“Thirty-nine seats, 29 standing, but that’s max capacity and, obviously with socially distancing, it significantly less number,” says Latimer. “That does make it difficult for people because we run a certain number of buses on a route, and what probably has helped us out the most in not exceeding those capacities is that we haven’t had capacity ridership. We’ve had people that just have not gone back to work or may not be at work at all.”
Plus, several routes connect with New York City subway system. Mask wearing and social distancing are required aboard any of the buses. Latimer also announced the release of PSAs about COVID-19 prevention. One is about hand-washing.
It also features staff members and county legislators sharing their favorite songs to sing for the recommended 20-second washing.
In another PSA, residents talks about the importance of wearing masks.
Latimer says the county beach season will be extended, with two beaches opening for the two weekends following Labor Day. Latimer also released the latest COVID statistics for the county.
“We have had, over the course of the last week, two fatalities to COVID-19, counting from Sunday to Sunday. Our hospitalization number stays roughly stable in the 30s, roughly 30 people per. Our testing number is at 526,000-plus,” Latimer says. “Our percentage of infection is below 10 percent of all the individuals, and currently we’re still under 500 active cases at any one time.”
He says there haven’t been any spikes in cases since the Chappaqua cluster earlier this summer that resulted from a high-school graduation party in June.