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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

MTS begins expanding bus and trolley services

In addition to service increases, MTS says it also continues to improve its already-strict safety and sanitizing protocols.
Credit: KFMB

SAN DIEGO — The Metropolitan Transit System began increasing bus and trolley services Monday as the COVID-19 case total in San Diego County approaches the 9,500 mark.

County health officials reported 126 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases to 9,440 while the death toll remained at 319.

Of the 6,751 tests reported to the county on Sunday, 2% were positive new cases. The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive tests is 2.9%.

Among those testing positive, 1,519 cases have required hospitalization and 426 had to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

Beginning Monday, the UC San Diego Blue Line trolley -- which connects the San Ysidro international border to downtown San Diego -- will increase its service frequency to every 7 1/2 minutes from 4:30 a.m. until 7 p.m., and keep 15-minute frequencies until 9 p.m., followed by every 30 minutes until the end of the service day.

While trolley service will be increasing to closely mirror pre-COVID- 19 levels, MTS is also making preparations to increase bus service in the coming weeks. Schedules and routes are being finalized.

MTS reduced weekday service levels by approximately 25% on April 13 to address record-low ridership while still providing critical service for essential workers and trips.

In addition to service increases, MTS says it also continues to improve its already-strict safety and sanitizing protocols.

The latest development on that front is retrofitting buses with germ barriers to better protect bus operators. Barriers will also allow the agency to return to front-door boarding, which gives passengers more room in which to spread out. MTS has only allowed rear-door boarding since April 1 to protect the health of bus operators.

Updated schedules can be accessed on the MTS website. MTS asks that people wear face coverings and practice physical distancing at all times.

A fund to provide loans and grants to minority-owned businesses that need help recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic was announced Sunday. The Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce is seeking to raise $1 million in the next 60 days to fuel the fund.

County health officials continue to monitor 13 potential "triggers" which could cause the county to take industry-specific actions, pause all reopening efforts, or even dial back reopenings. The county remains "green" on all 13 triggers.

One of those 13 triggers would be having seven recorded community outbreaks within a week.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer said Friday the county has recorded five community outbreaks of the illness in the past week. Past community outbreaks have included church meetings, parties and a wedding.

"We had only about three community outbreaks in the month of May," she said.

One newly reported outbreak originated from a restaurant. The outbreak remains under investigation, and Wooten said she could not immediately share additional information.

Guidance from the state last Thursday allowed County Supervisor Greg Cox to announce nail salons, tattoo shops, massage therapists, and personal care businesses -- such as waxing services -- will be allowed to open June 19.

Sanitizing and facial coverings at these businesses will be especially important due to the physical proximity of the work, Cox said Friday, offering a word of caution.

"We can't let reopenings lead to a surge in cases that will ruin everything we have done in the last several months," he said.

The county has launched a new interactive website which will allow residents to find COVID-19 testing locations near them. The website can be found at 211sandiego.org. 

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