'Better to be safe than sorry:' Concerns rise over lack of social distancing on buses

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) has already made changes to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. There's still some cramming on buses, though, creating concern.

Torrance Sumlin

"Maybe they're just out to get groceries or go pay some bills," said MCTS rider Torrance Sumlin. "Sometimes, there is standing room only."

Sumlin rides the bus daily to get to his essential job and says it's tough to social distance once on board.

"They're not six feet. They're not even three feet away, to be honest with you," he said.

MCTS requires most riders to enter and exit through the rear door. Video shows riders behind yellow tape, and there's limited interaction with the driver.

"I had a driver send me a message this morning. He had standing room up to the line," said Transit Union President James Macon. "I've been riding around all day. The average bus has like 15-30 people on there."

MCTS has heard the concerns, saying in a statement:

"MCTS has seen a significant decrease in ridership since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and adjusted service accordingly. We've been closely monitoring bus routes that occasionally experience higher ridership and we're adding extra buses to help passengers practice social distancing on those routes starting Friday, April 3.

Riders who see a bus that appears too full to allow for social distancing are encouraged to wait for the next bus to arrive.We appreciate everyone’s cooperation in limiting their bus travel to essential trips only, and following CDC recommendations when they do ride on MCTS."

"Just being in confined spaces with people, it's kind of a delicate situation," Sumlin said. "It's better to be safe than sorry."

MCTS is asking riders who see a bus that appears too full to allow for social distancing to wait for the next bus to arrive.