June 18, 2021

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Cautious start of public transport

With numerous security measures, a call for citizen cooperation and great caution, public transport resumed its activity in the metropolitan area, after having been closed for months due to the crisis caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. [19659002] The reopening, however, was a limited one. Although the Tren Urbano did resume its services entirely at a frequency similar to that which operated before the pandemic, the picture was not the same in the service of the Metropolitan Authority of Buses (AMA), which was only operating a limited number of routes.

In any case, Primera Hora was able to observe that both the train and the AMA buses the number of passengers was minimal.

Those few passengers, however, were on arrival at stations of the train or bus terminals with personnel who observed a rigorous security protocol, and countless signs with warning indications about sanitary measures to combat Covid-19, such as the mandatory use of masks.

On the train In addition, at the entrance to the platform, a 'hand sanitizer' was available for use by anyone who deemed it necessary.

And just in case, every few minutes, an employee reiterated over the loudspeakers the call mado to follow the security measures.

“The basics are announced, social distancing, the use of masks that is mandatory, and basic hygiene measures. This is a shared responsibility, "explained José L. Menéndez Agosto, executive director of the Integrated Transport Authority (ATI), and president and general manager of the AMA.

Menéndez commented that the flow of passengers had been low in the first hours after the reopening, which was to be expected, he said, not only because it is one of the low traffic months because schools and universities are closed, but also because many people are still not leaving their homes as usual for the situation of the pandemic.

“This morning, in the first hour, we were at 81% compared to previous years. We had 97 people in the entire system ”, detailed Menéndez. By 10:00 a.m. 300 people had not yet registered using the system.

According to First Hour, the few passengers on the train were generally satisfied with the security measures implemented. The only drawback they pointed out was the issue that the cards had expired and was not allowing them to use the balance they had available. In order to use it, it was explained to them, they had to transfer it to a new card, either online or by phone.

“The problem is because it did not spread. To the ‘seniors’ and students with a discount card… mine expired on June 1. Why was that not extended, as has been done with other licenses? "Asked José Suárez, a" senior "who was using the train. “They solved me. They made me a provisional card. But they gave me instructions to go online or go to Río Piedras to fix it. But it would be easier to extend them for 90 days and so you can use the pending balance. "

" But I am satisfied and very proud of most of the country, which is wearing the mask and protecting itself, except for a few on the beaches in on weekends, and that cannot be allowed. But the vast majority of the people are being responsible, "said Suárez.

As for the AMA, Menéndez explained, the situation was different, since initially only a dozen routes were operating, from the 31 they have.

He added that the routes they are operating are those that usually have the most passengers, or that are known as trunk lines. Specifically, it listed that the routes in service are T2, T4, T5, T7, T9, T37, as well as the routes served by the private operator First Transit, T3, E10, E20, E40, C22, C35, and C36. [19659002] However, the executive explained that the other routes “are going to be gradually restored, in stages.”

“The behavior of the passengers is important. We appeal to the cooperation of citizens, in distancing themselves, the use of masks, "insisted Menéndez. "If we see that people do not cooperate, then we will have to take other measures, which would delay the restoration of service. I can't have an additional police or staff to watch people. So we insist on cooperation. ”

He also clarified that the buses will be filled only at medium capacity, following the recommendations made by the health authorities. All passengers will be required to wear a mask at all times, and if someone refuses to wear it, the driver, although "we are not going to enter into a dispute, but stop the bus" until the person leaves. [19659002] But the passengers did not seem at all bothered by security measures. On the contrary, they considered that they were correct. A passenger on the train even joked that "as this has changed, alcohol used to drink it and now I am bathing in it."

On the other hand, other transportation services were also active.

Call and Travel that serves people with disabilities and other difficulties has already been fully restored after limiting its services for the past few months to dialysis patients, a driver explained. In addition to safety requirements such as the use of a mask, only two people on board in addition to the driver, additional transparent acrylic protection was placed around the driver.

Municipal trolley services, such as the one in Guaynabo, were operating, limiting the guaguas capacity, with unusable seats marked with red and yellow ribbons. The buses are being cleaned regularly and a hand sanitizer dispenser was placed on the bus door. In addition, drivers have a package prepared with cleaning devices and extra masks to provide a passenger who does not have it and needs to board the bus.

Meanwhile, the private bus drivers service of public carriers had also taken their Additional measures to guarantee the safety of everyone in the service.

"We are cleaning all the time," said a porter who identified himself as Julio, on the route from Río Piedras to San Juan, while showing several flasks filled with liquid. to clean. "And we are filling 75% of capacity, as established. Although there is not a lot of passengers at the moment, although that is another problem. ”

The ATI and AMA executive also reported that for the reopening of services, they had tested Covid-19 on 560 AMA employees, 400 of the Urban Train, and 78 of First Transit. He added that there were four employees who tested positive. Three of those had not reported to his workplace, and one did, so it was necessary to place five other employees who were close to the infected in preventive isolation, and proceed with a disinfection protocol for the area where he was.

He added that the buses are being disinfected daily at the end of the day and the train after each trip at the Sagrado Corazón station.

“The main objective is to comply with providing the service and allowing mobility, but it has than being within established security protocols. And collaboration is essential. So I implore that to the people, to collaborate. This is a shared responsibility. what happened in the restart of operations of the collective transport service, judging by expressions that they condemned that the measures to guarantee the safety of workers were not being complied with.

According to Alexis Merced, president from TUAMA, there were buses that did not have the necessary labeling on safety and protocols, nor did they have the required hand sanitizer. He added that only 26 units came out to service because they were the only ones that had the acrylic that is placed around the driver's space to guarantee their safety.

"We have already been able to realize what the Authority's supposed preparation has been for the gradual opening," condemned the worker leader. "As a representative of the workers, I must point out that, if the Authority does not have all the units available with the necessary safety features, even if they want to provide the service, they cannot because if they do so, they would be putting the health of the workers and users at risk" .

He further denounced that during the day an absence of protocols could be evidenced in the Sagrado Corazón and San Juan terminals, at the time of the driver relay hours. He added that there were neither cleaning personnel nor equipment to carry out the disinfection, nor personnel to supervise said task.

“The management of the AMA was not prepared for a gradual or complete opening of public transport services. All they promised for the disinfection of the units has been a promise that remained on paper, "insisted Merced.

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