District transportation officials are installing plastic barriers at the front of buses throughout the D.C. region to prevent drivers and passengers from contracting COVID-19.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that transit officials plan to have the shields installed in all D.C. Circulator buses before instituting fares again Sunday. The installations, which cost $3.6 million throughout the region, are funded mostly by the CARES Act, The Post reported.
“We are installing the protective equipment and taking a number of steps to ensure that our Circulator operators [and riders] are safe during a pandemic,” Jeff Marootian, the director of the District Department of Transportation, told The Post.
All of Metro’s 1,600 buses were outfitted with plastic barriers before the pandemic began, with the goal of protecting drivers from passenger assaults, according to The Post. The Post reported that the D.C. Circulator bus will begin requiring fares once its entire fleet of buses is equipped with plastic barriers, an undertaking that is estimated to cost $400,000.
Metrobus fares have been suspended since March, when Metro officials began requiring passengers to board from the back of the bus to limit passengers’ contact with drivers at the front of the bus, where fare boxes are located.
Metro is facing potentially drastic service cuts due to COVID-19, which include eliminating weekend train service, closing 19 stations and cutting several bus routes. Stimulus funding from the federal government is expected to help alleviate some of these cuts.