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Xpress bus ridership plummets 94 percent amid pandemic

Metro Atlanta’s Xpress bus system saw a 94 percent drop in passenger trips in April, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL
Metro Atlanta’s Xpress bus system saw a 94 percent drop in passenger trips in April, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

Credit: Branden Camp

Credit: Branden Camp

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on metro Atlanta transit agencies. The latest evidence comes from the state's Xpress bus system.

In April, passengers took an average of just 480 trips a day on the regional bus network serving 12 metro counties. That’s down a whopping 94 percent from the Xpress system’s normal ridership, according to Chris Tomlinson, executive director of the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority (also known as the ATL Board for short).

With the number of passengers plummeting, Xpress has reduced service twice. It reduced the frequency or service by 44 percent on March 23 and by an additional 21 percent on April 13.

Tomlinson told an ATL Board committee Thursday the service also has suspended fares to promote social distancing and prevent passenger bottlenecks around drivers and the farebox. It’s also educating customers about the need to stay away from each other on buses.

Like other transit agencies, Xpress has provided masks, wipes, hand sanitizer and other personal protective equipment to bus operators and other employees. One state Xpress employee and two employees of Transdev – the private firm that operates the service – have tested positive for COVID-19. Tomlinson said all are recovering, and the employees did not have contact with passengers.

Nationwide, more than 100 transit workers have died from COVID-19, including one at MARTA and one at CobbLinc.

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