PHOENIX (3TV /CBS 5) -- Phoenix City Council unanimously passed a measure limiting the number of passengers on public buses Monday to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"So that people can be protected to the greatest extent possible to help flatten the curve and keep the spread from going further," said Mario Paniagua, City of Phoenix Deputy City Manager.
There will be different passenger restrictions based on the type of bus. Smaller "circulator" buses will be limited to five passengers, 40-foot buses will be limited to ten passengers, and 60-foot buses will be limited to 15 passengers.
Valley Metro is asking the public to reduce public transit use to necessary trips.
There will be exceptions for people with disabilities, and drivers will be able to use their discretion to not strictly enforce the passenger caps to reduce conflict.
"If there's 15 people on the bus and there's someone in a wheelchair waiting at the bus stop, the driver would then have the ability to pick them up and let them get on the bus," Paniagua said.
A spokesperson for the City of Phoenix Public Transportation Department says they are currently working out logistics. Phoenix City Council will be monitoring the impacts of the rider reduction.
Paniagua says the restrictions will likely go into effect next Monday, April 13. He's advising bus riders plan ahead, since buses that are at capacity will likely not stop for more passengers.
Bob Bean, President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local #1433 which represents Phoenix city bus drivers, says two drivers have already tested positive for COVID-19.
A Valley Metro bus operator has tested positive for coronavirus.
Bean called the move to limit passengers on buses, "a great step toward providing safety for both the operator and the passengers that are riding the bus."
Meanwhile, Valley Metro has already enhanced its cleaning regimen on buses to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Currently, they're being fogged with a cleaner once a week, and high-touch areas are being wiped down nightly.