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Eau Claire Transit prepares for influx of riders come fall

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- Summer is nearing its end, and with that comes an influx of returning university students to Eau Claire. In the age of COVID-19, how will Eau Claire Transit ensure the health and safety of the extra passengers?

The Eau Claire Transit manager said there is a plan.

Tom Wagener, Eau Claire's Transit manager, said university students make up around 40 percent of the transit system's ridership every year, even though the university routes only run during the fall and spring semesters.

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the school year, all Eau Claire buses are at 50 percent capacity. For the university-route buses, this means only 20 people may ride the bus at a time. Select seats on each bus have been marked off for disuse.

Wagener said Eau Claire Transit has been working closely with the health department to make the buses as safe as possible for the people who choose to utilize them.

"I would just encourage you to follow the CDC guidelines for how to prevent the spread of the disease," Wagener said. "If you do find that you need to use the transit system, then please wear a mask and, whenever possible, sit as far apart."

In addition to the decreased bus capacities, Wagener said drivers have been asked to do extra sanitizing between stops. In fact, university routes will function on adjusted time schedules this year to allow for cleaning.

Because Eau Claire Transit is not yet sure how the reduced capacity will impact student riders, Wagener said no new routes or buses have been added.

On Thursday afternoon, Eau Claire Transit announced riding the bus would remain free until October 5, 2020.

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Madeline Fuerstenberg

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