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by Robin Kemp

If you ride MARTA’s bus or rail system, rejoice–MARTA says all lines will be back up and running as of Saturday, April 24.

First, MARTA says it’s installing “state-of-the-art air filtration and purification systems on all buses” and getting federal support to “enforce mask-wearing.” That means masks are mandatory on public transit–and MARTA will provide free masks to passengers who don’t have one. Look for them in the dispenser by the front door, or ask the driver for a mask if the dispenser is empty. Drivers themselves are surrounded by polycarbonate shields to limit the spread of germs.

Then, MARTA will bring the remaining 58 bus routes back online. MARTA had suspended 70 out of 110 routes on April 20, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Twelve of those routes are already back in service.

This slide from MARTA shows changes to routes, changes to how often the buses run, or both.

Over the next few weeks, MARTA’s Bus Operations and Planning department will be updating both digital and printed bus schedules, taking down “closed” signs from bus stops, and assigning routes to bus drivers.

“We understand the reduction in bus routes created a hardship for many of our customers, and we are appreciative of their patience as we balanced providing a service with protecting public health,” said MARTA General Manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker. “Public transit by its very nature goes against social distancing and, by placing all 540 buses in our fleet on a reduced number of routes a year ago, we were able to provide more room for our customers and hopefully slow the spread of the virus. With the installation of filters that rid the air of harmful pathogens and the new federally mandated mask requirement, we feel we can now safely return to full bus service.”

To do that, MARTA has installed bipolar ionization air filters on all its buses. These are in addition to existing antimicrobial filters. The new filters “eliminate airborne pathogens and deliver clean air every 75 seconds, without producing ozone or other harmful by-products,” MARTA says.

“Protecting the health of our customers and the bus operators, who have continued to work throughout the pandemic providing an essential service, was our first priority,” said MARTA Deputy General Manager of Operations Collie Greenwood. “It was imperative that every bus was equipped with an advanced air filtering system and that all customers were masked before returning to pre-COVID bus service levels.”

To find bus route information and videos about the return to service and COVID-19 safety measures, visit https://www.itsmarta.com/servicerestoration.aspx

To get real-time service alerts, follow @MARTAservice on Twitter or download the MARTA On The Go app for Apple or Android.

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