Riding AVTA Creates High Anxiety For Passengers

Out here in Palmdale, CA, the Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) just recently (April 26,2021) eliminated a number of bus lines in different routes in favor of buses filled more to their restricted 50% max capacity. The modification is understandable considering how empty the buses were on my commuter express route, that I could not conceive of the dollars being lost when an entire bus takes just a few individuals the distance for their commute. It's not an insignificant distance.

On my particular route they were running nine buses each morning and evening, one running practically every 20 minutes. They reduced this number to four each way, or roughly one an hour. The local routes are now running what they call "Saturday or weekend schedules" with the commuter bus routes being severely cut back. 

Again... it's understandable from a financial point of view from the AVTA's side. But now, it's feeling pretty freaky now that they're packing us in there.

With the self-induced bus passenger capacity restricted to 50%, and the rescheduling, some of the routes are packed to over that 50% capacity.  At times, we, the passengers find ourselves packed in there, with my face barely two feet away from the passenger in front of me and two feet away from the passenger behind me. But with the 50% capacity, no one is supposed to sit next to me in the same row on my side of the bus.  But still...

Yet there we are. And what I've experienced so far has been:

-Watching as the bus fills up to the self-imposed limit, with a few folks still ending up sitting next to each other because we're forced to take the bus that allows us to get to work on time. This has been seen time and time again.
-A few specific drivers won't even get up to make sure the bus stays at or below capacity.
-Passengers removing masks to talk. (You know, so they can hear each other better, like the two below)

-Passengers removing their masks to eat snacks or dinner.
-Getting left behind because the new bus schedule filled up. (When a driver is paying attention to limits)
--Waiting an hour for the next bus.

To be honest, I'm somewhat anxious being forced into this scenario. I effectively double mask up, but what about those who aren't taking the best of precautions? How many riders wear chin diapers, and the drivers let them on anyway? TOO MANY!!! What about the drivers who sit behind an installed plastic shield for their own protection, and that's about as effective as... well.

This is a worrisome situation as one to two buses each route get packed due to the new schedule with no oversight on capacity and there's little thought for the passengers in this scenario, in this crazy world of Covid19.

AVTA does not even seem to want to consider adding just one more route to thin us out. Fortunately, we're on the downward trend of this crap pandemic, but still. The disregard for passenger safety is diluted by all the other "measures" they say they've taken.

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