Bus ridership has dipped nearly 70 percent on Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada routes amid ongoing COVID-19 concerns.
Since the March 17 shutdown of all nonessential businesses, the RTC public transit system has seen its sharpest revenue decline in its history.
While exact ridership numbers are not yet available, ridership and revenue numbers are very similar, according to Francis Julien, RTC deputy CEO.
“Revenue has decreased by 98 percent on the Strip, from more than $40,000 per day to just over $700 per day,” Julien said in an email. “Revenue has decreased by approximately 70 percent on residential routes from approximately $100,000 per day to just over $28,000 per day; and paratransit trips have decreased by approximately 70 percent from nearly 5,000 trips per day, to just over 1,400 trips per day.”
With the dramatic decline in passengers and bus operator shortages tied to novel coronavirus call-outs, the RTC began running a reduced schedule Wednesday.
It had been slated to follow a Sunday schedule seven days a week until further notice starting Sunday, but the operator shortage caused that to be moved up to Wednesday. Some routes unexpectedly had to operate under a Sunday schedule on Tuesday after an influx of driver call-outs, so the RTC moved up the systemwide schedule change to eliminate confusion among riders.
A Sunday schedule varies route to route but typically offers less frequency to reflect lower ridership and less traffic congestion.
The RTC is also urging transit riders to comply with recommended social distancing precautions and keep at least 6 feet of space between each other, which the decline in customer volume is aiding.
“As our system has experienced nearly a 70 percent decline in ridership, some social distancing is happening naturally,” Julien said. “However, we are also implementing several actions to urge transit riders to comply with social distancing.”
Nightly cleaning of RTC buses now also includes disinfecting all areas of the bus to curb chances of spreading the coronavirus.
The RTC is also reducing the operating hours of its call center. It will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., instead of 6 a.m. to 8 p.m, starting Sunday.
Aside from call centers, customers can also submit comments or questions via the RTC’s “Contact Us” webpage 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Hours of operation will also be reduced at the Bonneville Transit Center downtown, going from the 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. hours of operation for the sales booth, to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.