SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grip the country transit systems are seeing a large decrease in ridership.
Many living throughout Chatham County rely heavily on Chatham Area Transit’s (CAT) services. Since the pandemic began, CAT officials have been working to keep riders who rely on public transportation safe.
“I’m still very encouraged. People are still utilizing our service. We’ve been a godsend to the many essential workers throughout this pandemic,” CAT CEO, Baccara Mauldin said.
Mauldin is CAT’s new CEO. She had to hit the ground running in the middle of this health crisis and says right now ridership is down 50 percent from this time last year.
While cases continue to climb throughout the state, Mauldin has a message for those who have stopped riding due to concerns about COVID-19.
“That transit is safe even during this time. We’re taking precautions to make sure that we’re allowing you to social distance, we’re taking precautions that allow you to be able to safely access our service,” Mauldin said.
Drivers are being asked to wear masks and CAT is strongly encouraging customers to do the same however they are not required even with Savannah’s mask mandate in place. Bus capacity has been cut by 50 percent and rides remain free for now.
“We’re having to make realtime adjustments. As you know capacity, you get to capacity a lot quicker these days then say five months ago,” Mauldin said.
With transit services taking a financial blow CAT is relying on other streams of revenue to make it through possibly with the help of another stimulus package. That’s still being debated by Congress.
CAT is taking every measure to keep their staff safe as well. All employees are required to have their temperature checked before beginning work.