EMBARK Ridership Slowly Increases Amid COVID-19 Pandemic


Tuesday, June 30th 2020, 11:07 pm
By: Clayton Cummins


OKLAHOMA CITY -

More people are beginning to use public transportation again in the metro, according to EMBARK.

COVID-19 is forcing the public transit authority to get creative in preventing its spread.

Ridership numbers have not been the same since early March, when on average, over 10,000 people rode the bus and streetcar. Now to even hit 5,000 riders, is an accomplishment.

Slowly activity outside the EMBARK bus terminal downtown is beginning to pick up. COVID-19 abruptly interrupted a growing trend.

“What we saw earlier on this year is that more and more people were starting to take more trips on transit and we were seeing that all the way up to mid to late January,” said Michael Scroggins, EMBARK spokesperson.

After temporarily reducing service, EMBARK bus and streetcar routes are back to full time.

To date, not one employee has tested positive for COVID-19.

“I really attribute it to the vigilance of our employees and our safety manager and his team and our maintenance crews,” said Scroggins. “They have worked very proactively to start putting everything in place. We’ve provided masks for all employees as well as hand cleaning sanitizing materials as well.”

Plexi-glass barriers are in the process of being installed on each bus, providing space between the driver and public.

Each vehicle is sanitized daily.

“If you were to get an outbreak in the employee base, that could devastate our ability to put service on the street,” said Scroggins. “Protecting the health of our employees is critical to us being able to get service on the street.”

EMBARK is set to receive $25 million in money from the CARES Act, money to keeps Oklahomans getting where they need to go.

“We’re working to stretch all of those dollars that we received as an agency to maintain and preserve service,” said Scroggins. “That is our primary goal because we know how many people are relying on it every day.”

Wearing a mask and social distancing on a bus or streetcar is encouraged.