Sioux Area Metro Transit says driver has COVID-19; Mayor: City council will consider reducing transit schedule as ridership falls


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A Sioux Area Metro (SAM) Transit driver has tested positive for COVID-19, SAM offiicals said.

The driver tested positive on Tuesday, April 14, and last drove for SAM paratransit on Friday, April 10 and on Saturday, April 11. The South Dakota Department of Health is contacting all paratransit riders who were on board with the driver on those days, SAM said in the news release. The driver was wearing a mask and plastic gloves while driving both of those days. 

Mayor Paul TenHaken said Wednesday afternoon that the Sioux Falls City Council will consider a recommendation to reduce the route schedule for SAM during COVID-19.

“We have seen ridership really just drop off a cliff…,” TenHaken said.

As of April 7, transit had a 65% decline to fixed route ridership and an 85% drop in para transit ridership, he said.

Also, 36% drivers meet the vulnerable population definition under Gov. Kristi Noem’s executive order, TenHaken said.

The public transit board recommended the reduction, TenHaken said.

While TenHaken said no one likes reducing transit hours, “Quite honestly, people aren’t using public transit right now.” He also said the transit union was supportive of the recommended reductions.

Starting in early March, the transit staff began extra cleaning of all buses, especially high touch areas, according to the news release on COVID-19 driver.

SAM has allowed only up to nine passengers per fixed-route bus and up to two passengers for each paratransit bus to increase social distancing measures since March 27.  SAM is currently looking at additional precautions to protect riders and SAM staff and to prevent the spread of the virus causing COVID-19.

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