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St. Mary's buses slow down, MVA closes

John Deatrick

John Deatrick

Getting around for some is going to be a little more difficult as public transportation and automotive agencies scale back services amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Effective last week, St. Mary’s STS buses reduced hours to follow the normal Saturday schedule on weekdays, with a few supplemental routes added, according to John Deatrick, director of St. Mary’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation.

“For the weekly schedule, we’re running the Saturday schedule,” Deatrick said last week. “So the buses are not running as much.”

The Sunday bus schedule will remain as is.

“Basically, people are just trying to get to work,” Deatrick said. “So we still have ridership.”

However, based on the state’s stay-at-home order issued March 30, STS and paratransit trips are now limited to “essential activities” as defined in the governor’s executive order. Some essential activities include grocery shopping, obtaining food for animals, travel to care for family members and travel to an educational institution for purposes of receiving meals or instructional materials for distance learning.

ADA and SSTAP paratransit service will continue to book and provide medical trips such as dialysis, chemotherapy, hospitals, clinics, mental health facilities as well as trips to pharmacies and grocery stores.

No more than 9 passengers are allowed on each bus at a time, according to a release from the county government, and riders must place their fare directly in the fare box or show their passes to the driver without making any physical contact.

When a bus nears its 10-person capacity (including the driver), first responders and medical service workers are given priority. Additional passengers must wait for the next bus, according to the release.

The STS is also cleansing buses at high-passenger touch points.

Doors, handles and fare boxes are being wiped down consistently to prevent the spread of the virus, Deatrick said. “It’s all being thoroughly wiped down at the end of the day.”

Bus drivers are given gloves and face masks as well, Deatrick said.

St. Mary’s paratransit services are also reduced, now only providing medical trips and trips to pharmacies and grocery stores. All other trips were canceled until further notice.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) had already closed off state-run buses and MARC trains to non-essential personnel.

“No one should get on a MARC train, Metro, Amtrak train or bus or any of our transportation assets,” Hogan said at a press conference on Thursday morning. “Unless you are an emergency personnel, a frontline health care provider or your job is essential to the supply chain.”

Hogan’s Monday order to shut down all non-essential businesses did not shut down a wide range of transportation services, including auto supply and repair shops.

Additional interpretive guidance released Monday evening says auto and truck dealerships, as well as bicycle shops, may remain open.

Also last week, all Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration locations were shuttered as of Friday afternoon, canceling all scheduled appointments.

Hogan had previously ordered for driver’s licenses, business licenses, identification cards, permits and registrations which were scheduled to expire from March 12 to the end of the state of emergency to be extended until 30 days after the state of emergency is lifted.

Although the MVA is closed, 24-hour self-service kiosks and the online store, which can be used for registration renewals, changes of address, insurance compliance payments and information on flag fees are still accessible, and those with emergency business needs , such as obtaining a commercial driver’s license, can contact the MVA at 1-800-950-1682. For more information about the county’s bus service, call the STS dispatcher at 301-475-4200, ext. 71120.

Twitter: @DanEntNews

Twitter: @DanEntNews

Resources for Marylanders and employees during COVID-19

SBDC Webinar - Topics: EIDL and CARES (PPP) COVID 19 Loans

Monday 4/6/2020, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM (EDT)

Space is Limited ~ You Must Register:

Please RSVP with a valid email. After registering, you will receive a Zoom Meeting link to join online, or you can join via the dial-in number. This webinar will be recorded and shared, and if space fills up, additional dates will be added.

Daily SBA Conference Call – Updates (M-F) provided and you can ask questions.

3:00 p.m., Call 202-765-1264, Conf Call ID# 827-299-626

5:30 p.m., Call 202-765-1264, Conf Call ID# 310-688-488

EIDL Application Help – Daily 10:30 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. On the call, an SBA agent will walk you through how to fill out the EIDL form. Have all your necessary documents ready. Zoom Meeting # 6794772946

Paycheck Protection Program Loan (PPPL) FAQ - 

SBA COVID-19 Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources

Main Maryland Business Information Site for COVID 19 updates and resources -