Walla Walla Valley Transit's board in an emergency meeting Monday decided to reduce its number of buses on the road.
Routes will now run on hour-long loops instead of 30-minute loops under the following schedule on Valley Transit's website:
•Routes 1 eastbound, 1 westbound, 3, 4 and 9 leave the Transit Center, 108 W. Main St., at a quarter past the hour. •Routes 5, 6 and 7 leave the Transit Center at a quarter till the hour.
The schedule will remain in effect until Saturday, after which Valley Transit is planning more possible changes.
At Monday's meeting drivers were given the option of doing other tasks if they do not want to drive or use supplemental leave, Valley Transit General Manager Angie Peters said.
Supplemental leave is approved for up to two weeks, with a commitment from Peters to the union that it could be extended after that period for another two weeks under provisions of the Gov. Jay Inslee's statewide emergency declaration Monday.
Walla Walla County Commissioner Todd Kimball asked it reducing the number of buses would mean more riders on each, posing a virus-spreading risk.
“Does that congregate the people that are riding into one bus and create another problem?” he said.
Heather Schermann, Valley Transit board chariman, said there is a potential for that but it could be mitigated by Inslee's statewide stay-at-home order Monday.
Signs have been put in buses reminding people to maintain at least six feet apart, and all but one driver has not seen more than 10 people on a bus at a given time, she said.
Columbia County’s public transportation service has not made any changes to service as of Tuesday. Both services are urging residents to not ride buses if they’re sick.