City of Cedar Rapids Transit is suspending its fixed-route transit service, effective Wednesday, as an additional measure to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“Suspending a service like transit is a very difficult decision for a city and for a community, but it’s one we must make in order to help prevent a possible spike in the number of cases that can overwhelm our medical facilities,” City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said during Monday’s press conference, after making the announcement.
Over the weekend, the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Linn County. As of Monday evening, there are 105 confirmed cases in Iowa. Six of those cases are in Linn County, and 35 cases are in neighboring Johnson County.
The decision to suspend transit was made with “great caution and great concern but also knowing … that this is in the best interest of our community,” Pomeranz said. The decision was made in response to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, the White House and the Iowa Department of Health — all of which have instructed people to avoid large gatherings.
Cedar Rapids Transit took measures last week to continue their services while facilitating social distancing, including eliminating fares, not allowing standing on buses and limiting each bus to 10 passengers. The buses were also cleaned regularly. Despite these measures, Pomeranz said it is “still a confined space filled with many people throughout the day.”
“We are at a critical moment, as we’ve heard, and preventing and limiting the spread of COVID-19 is a job — one for all of us, for the government, the nonprofit community and for the business community, for health care facilities, for all of us. It’s vital that we take the actions needed to protect our community,” Pomeranz said.
The transit will continue as scheduled on Tuesday and be suspended starting Wednesday, March 25. The suspension will last until April 13, but Pomeranz noted the date could change depending on the situation.
Neighborhood Transportation Service (NTS) at Horizons will expand their hours to provide free rides to work for those with critical employment transportation needs, including people working at hospitals, grocery stores, care facilities and convenience stores. To schedule a ride, individuals should call 319-363-1321 at least 24 hours in advance.
Linn County LIFTS is also continuing its service to existing customers for essential trips, including medical trips, pharmacy, dialysis or grocery. Other individuals in need of essential medical transportation can call LIFTS at 319-892-5170 to see if rides are available. Priority will be given to seniors and people with disabilities.
Pomeranz noted that “it will not be business as usual” because NTS and Linn County LIFTS have a limited number of spaces available. Both organizations will be limiting the number of people per ride to facilitate social distancing.