GRTC loosens some pandemic restrictions, keeps mask requirement


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Riders who’ve felt crowded on GRTC buses recently will get some relief, as the public transit system announced Friday that they’ll be allowing passengers to stand and sit further forward in buses.

Seating in the front rows of the buses has been restricted since early in the pandemic to protect drivers from COVID-19. There will also be more people allowed to stand in the aisles. Passengers will still have to use the rear door only, GRTC went back on their decision to use both doors after COVID-19 cases began rising again.

In a Facebook post, GRTC said that steady increases in ridership, which dropped during quarantine, has been rising, necessitating the expanded seating.

Calvin Lynch, who rides the bus from Southside Plaza four times a week, said he doesn’t mind the extra company.

“I think it’s a good idea. More people can get on,” he said.

But some things won’t change: all passengers are still required to wear masks through at least Sept. 13, though that is likely to be extended as the delta variant continues to spread.

“I feel confident, safe as long as you know I follow COVID procedures. You know wear my mask, stay 6 feet away,” Lynch said.

GRTC also has hand sanitizer stations near the backdoor.

And the buses will be fare-free through at least June of next year, thanks to an influx of federal funding.

After over a year of riding the bus with pandemic procedures in place, Lynch said “riding the bus has been kind of safe.” He said he knows multiple bus drivers got COVID-19.

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