Valley Metro not collecting fares to practice social distancing

Having access to reliable transportation is a luxury that is not afforded to everyone. Thousands of people throughout the Roanoke Valley, including Salem, use the Valley Metro Bus System weekly to get to work, purchase groceries from the store and run errands, among other things.

Albeit with some changes due to COVID-19, Valley Metro is still operating at nearly all of its Salem bus stops. Passengers are asked to adhere to the following guidelines: travel only for essential needs, use the front door when getting on the bus and the rear doors to get off the bus, limit interaction with bus operators to emergencies only and do not engage in extended rides on one route.
Fare collection will reportedly stop through April 24, but that date could be extended. Monthly and seven-day VPASS holders will be able to exchange their valid pass for a new one. Operators are allowed to use discretion and skip bus stops if they deem the bus is too full for passengers to practice social distance. Patience, and lots of it, is needed from everyone during this time.

“I am just listening to the health professionals and doing my part to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Of course, I’m encouraging others to do the same also,” said Taylor Johnson. “I still need to get around for essential errands, and Valley Metro is my best option to do just that. We need to come together as a community more than ever.”

Roughly 75 percent of Americans, or 250 million people, are currently under a shelter-in-place order. The top priority of Valley Metro is to keep the community safe.

While not ideal, Desmond Hunt understands why all of the local and state decisions are being made. Hunt, a father of three, is of the belief that if everyone takes COVID-19 seriously and do their part, Salem can collectively expedite the coronavirus timeline.

“It is going to require effort from everybody because we all have to share this space. It doesn’t matter if you make half a million dollars a year or have to take the bus to and from work to provide for your family like myself,” he said. “COVID-19 doesn’t care about your race, social-economic status or gender.”

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