Cedar Rapids Transit to resume services; CR pools not opening this summer

Downtown Cedar Rapids — Zak Neumann/Little Village

City of Cedar Rapids Transit will resume on Monday, May 18, after being suspended for almost two months. There will be a number of changes in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect both passengers and drivers.

Transit service will be available Monday through Friday from 5:15 a.m. to 7 p.m. Service will be hourly on all routes except for route five, which will run every 15 minutes.

There will be no weekday peak service or Saturday service at this time, but these services might be phased-in at a later date, the city’s transit manager Brad DeBrower said at Thursday’s Linn County Public Health press conference.

“Those two reductions … provide additional personnel and buses for us to meet what we hope will be the demand for our service,” DeBrower said.

Passengers are asked to enter and exit the bus through the back door, unless they have an accessibility issue that requires use of the front door. Fare collection is suspended to encourage social distancing between the driver and passengers.

The buses will be limited to 10 passengers, but there will be extra buses available if needed. Passengers are asked to use the buses for essential use, which includes work, grocery store trips and medical appointments. Social riding is discouraged.

“We’re going to be very flexible as to what our ridership demands or needs are going to be,” DeBrower said. “So instead of having peak buses, we will actually have some buses that will be trailing along behind where needed, as a driver calls in because they may or may not be full.”

Passengers are required to wear face coverings (masks, bandannas, neck gaiters, scarves) on the bus and in the Ground Transportation Center. Passengers are expected to provide their own face covering, but masks will be available for distribution for those who don’t have a face covering, DeBrower said.

Employees will have daily screening and temperature checks before they begin their shift, as well as have access to face coverings, face shields, gloves, hand sanitizer and surface cleaner, DeBrower said.

Hand sanitizer will be available on every bus, and buses will be cleaned and sanitized throughout the day. There are plans to purchase and install Plexiglas barriers for the driver’s compartment.

“We intend to have those in place prior to returning to front door outdoor use and fare collection,” DeBrower said.

COVID-19 Press Conference, May 14th 2020, 3:30 PM

Now streamed live on Facebook, YouTube (…/UCV9JaHlZ0phu…), and local news sites.

Posted by Linn County Public Health on Thursday, May 14, 2020

Meanwhile, the city has decided that Cedar Rapids municipal pools will remain closed this summer. Bever, Bender, Jones, Ellis, Cherry Hill and Noelridge pools and aquatic centers will not open.

Staff has spent the last several weeks reviewing guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and came to the conclusion that this is the safest option, said Scott Hock, the city’s parks and recreation director.

“With over 160,000 typical pool users in the summer, the potential for exposure to COVID-19 still exists even if following these guidelines due to the number of surfaces at the facilities that are touched hundreds of times each hour,” Hock said. “In addition, social distancing within the water and lifesaving would be difficult.”

“Our primary goal is keeping the community safe and we believe that this is the best precaution we can take this summer.”

Hock said this decision was made early to allow staff to find other summer employment. The possibility of opening Bendor indoor pool for swim lessons will be evaluated later this summer.

The city also extended the closure of certain facilities to the general public through May 31.