Message from SouthWest Transit’s CEO Len Simich regarding COVID-19 and scheduled service suspensions.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed our usual way of life as we know it. Everyday activities like going to the grocery store, eating a meal at your favorite restaurant, getting your haircut, going to a sporting event, and commuting to/from work has been suddenly altered. Social distancing has become the new norm.
As you are probably aware, SouthWest Transit is suspending a good portion of its service beginning Monday, March 23.
Over the past two weeks, over 90% of SouthWest Transit’s daily ridership has been lost due to the coronavirus outbreak.
To better align resources while still providing a level of service that addresses critical commuting needs while maintaining goals related to social distancing, a “temporary” service plan will go into service on the 23rd.
In general, the plan suspends/reduces approximately 65% of the current express service and over 30% of the Prime vehicles currently in daily operation. Express service will operate with 15-minute frequency during the peak hour, and hourly throughout the mid-day. The number of Prime vehicles operating will reduce from 15 to 10 during the peak hours, and from 10 to 5 vehicles during the off-peak.
Besides reduced service frequency, other changes include all express service picking-up and dropping-off at SouthWest Transit’s three stations along the Hwy 212 corridor (SW Station in Eden Prairie, SW Village Station in Chanhassen, and East Creek Transit Station in Chaska). The last run from downtown in the evening would be at 6 pm (currently 9:30 pm).
Express Service to/from SouthWest Transit’s Chanhassen Station, as well as express service to/from the Carver Transit Station, will not operate during the service suspension. Customers using these stations can either drive to one of the 212 stations or use the micro-transit service “Prime”.
I also want to reiterate that economic impacts are not the only reason we are implementing the service suspension.
Heeding the directive from the Governor to minimize person to person interaction/contact, we believe it is in the best interest of our employees to reduce service and keep as many of our staff members at home until the coronavirus can be controlled.
Furloughed staff have been provided 2 weeks of paid leave. Paid leave, along with the personal leave balances (sick and vacation) employees carry, most furloughed employees will have 3-4 weeks of pay available before having to access any unemployment insurance funds should this continue beyond that period.
Until this is over, take care of yourself, your family and your neighbors. Together we will get through this.
Chief Executive Officer and General Manager