BFT Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Updates

The COVID-19 situation is evolving daily, and Ben Franklin Transit (BFT) is here to help. We will continue to closely monitor the proclamations from the governor’s office and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Washington Department of Health and the Benton-Franklin Health District. 

We will notify customers via social media (Facebook and Twitter), here on our website, and other means as appropriate if there are any changes in service.

Check out this helpful hand washing video from the CDC: https://youtu.be/d914EnpU4Fo

For the most up-to-date bus schedules we recommend that riders:

 

Posted: May 8, 2020

REMINDER - STARTING MAY 11: BFT CONNECT AVAILABLE IN ALL 6 ZONES

Starting Monday, May 11, our new BFT CONNECT service will offer on-demand rides for you to reach essential services and connect to the BFT network throughout the Tri-Cities. View maps and more information about each zone at bft.org/ConnectOnDemand.

 

Posted: May 6, 2020

THANK YOU FROM SECRETARY CHAO

Watch Secretary Elaine L. Chao's message to the thousands of public transit employees that are still on the job in communities all across the country. This includes BFT's dedicated staff who transport police, doctors, nurses, grocery store clerks and other essential workers to and from work every day. Our public transit employees are making incredible sacrifices to ensure that our community keeps moving during this incredibly difficult time. We sincerely appreciate all that they do.

 

Posted: May 4, 2020

NEW: BFT CONNECT ON-DEMAND SERVICE - MORE ZONES STARTING MAY 11

Starting Monday, May 11, our new BFT CONNECT service will offer on-demand rides for you to reach essential services in the following zones:

View maps, Transit Connections and more information about each zone at bft.org/ConnectOnDemand.

 

Posted: May 1, 2020

NEW: BFT CONNECT ON-DEMAND SERVICE - STARTING MAY 4
WEST RICHLAND & BADGER MOUNTAIN ZONE

Starting Monday, May 4, our new BFT CONNECT service will offer on-demand rides for you to reach essential services in the West Richland and Badger Mountain Satellite zone. Brought to you by BFT in partnership with and powered by Via, BFT CONNECT will allow riders within active service zones to request a ride from within the Via App, or call in to request rides as needed, to connect to designated BFT Transit Connections. During this COVID-19 emergency, rides are FREE, and passengers will ride alone and sit in the back row to maintain social distancing from drivers.

The West Richland & Badger Mountain area will be the second BFT CONNECT service zone to launch, and the remaining four planned zones in the Tri-Cities will be active by the end of May.

Details about the CONNECT service, including how it will work during and after the state of emergency, are available at bft.org/ConnectOnDemand.

 

Posted: April 20, 2020

Notice to our valued Dial-A-Ride customers:

Ben Franklin Transit is committed to the safety and well-being of our drivers and the community we serve. As part of the ongoing emergency response measures and based on health authority guidance, the following are requirements and requests for support, effective April 14, 2020:

  • MASKS: All Dial-A-Ride passengers are required to wear a mask OR nose/mouth covering until further notice. The service will not be provided if a covering is not in place. Customers will be informed of this when making reservations.
  • ESSENTIAL TRIPS: When making a reservation, all customers will be asked the purpose of their trip; at this time, only essential trips as outlined in the Governor’s order will be scheduled. These include food/grocery, medical appointments, pharmacy, and essential work trips only.
  • SYMPTOMS: When making a reservation, customers will be asked if they have had symptoms associated with COVID-19 within the last five days. If they have, the trip will not be scheduled.

Please be aware of potential longer wait times for Dial-A-Ride services currently. Thank you so much for your support, your efforts and your understanding.

 

Posted: April 17, 2020

NEW: BFT CONNECT ON-DEMAND SERVICE - STARTING APRIL 20
WEST PASCO ZONE

Starting Monday, APRIL  20, our new BFT CONNECT service will offer on-demand rides for you to reach essential services in West Pasco.  Brought to you by BFT in partnership with and powered by public mobility digital infrastructure provider Via, BFT CONNECT will allow riders within active service zones to request a ride from within the Via App, or call in to request rides as needed, to connect to designated BFT Transit Connections. During this COVID-19 emergency, rides are FREE, and passengers will ride alone and sit in the back row to maintain social distancing from drivers.

Though West Pasco will be the first and only BFT CONNECT service zone to launch on April 20, the remaining five planned zones in the Tri-Cities, West Richland, and Finley will be active by the end of May.

Details about the CONNECT service, including how it will work during and after the state of emergency, are available at bft.org/ConnectOnDemand.

SAFETY NOTE: We have extended all safety measures including rear-door entry and exit and no fare collection until further notice.

View the press release: https://www.bft.org/press-release-ben-franklin-transit-and-via-to-launch-new-on-demand-service-beginning-april-20-in-west-pasco/

REMINDER TO ALL: Stay home unless the trip is for an ESSENTIAL reason as defined by the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. If you don’t feel well, do not ride.

 

Posted: April 12, 2020

RIDER ALERT: Starting Monday, April 13, service is suspended on ROUTES 64, 65, 66, 67 & 268, and NEW ROUTES begin.

WHY ARE WE SUSPENDING SERVICE ON SOME ROUTES?
We are making route modifications to protect our employees and adjust to fluctuating BFT staffing availability, while creating new temporary routes to "essential services." The goal is to keep people connected to food/grocery, medical, and pharmacy services as well as essential work trips.

The routes being suspended serve many schools that are not operating, connect to many non-essential locations, and recently have reduced demand. 

WHY ARE WE OFFERING SERVICE ON NEW ROUTES?
The following new bus routes will begin on Monday, April 13, 2020 on a temporary basis to maintain accessibility to essential services:

  • Route 61E.  This route will replace Routes 64 and 65, and provide one-way service departing 22nd Avenue Transit Center along Route 64 and continuing to Tierra Vida before returning along Route 65 to 22nd Avenue Transit Center. It will run every 25 minutes or less Monday through Saturday until further notice.
  • Route 69E. This route will combine and replace Routes 66 and 67 and provide westbound service on Sylvester Street and eastbound service on Court Street. It will run every 60 minutes on weekdays until further notice.

SEE SCHEDULES FOR NEW "ESSENTIAL" ROUTES 61E &69E: bft.org/Services/Route-61-69-E

SAFETY NOTE: We have extended all safety measures including rear-door entry and exit and no fare collection until further notice.

View the press release: https://www.bft.org/press-release-ben-franklin-transit-to-reduce-regular-routes-introduce-two-temporary-routes-in-pasco-effective-april-13/

 

Posted: April 3, 2020

RIDER ALERT: Reduced Frequency on ROUTE 268 begins Monday, April 6.

WHAT’S CHANGING on ROUTE 268?
Trip frequency will reduce from every 30 minutes to every 90 minutes.

This is a weekday only route, primarily serving schools that are currently closed and without significant connectivity to essential services as defined by the Governor’s order. Additionally, most stops on this route are shared with other routes, including 66, 67, and 225 which are operating on normal schedules at this time.

WHY ARE WE REDUCING SERVICE?
This service reduction is designed to protect our employees and adjust to fluctuating BFT staffing availability, while continuing to serve members of the community who need us for essential transportation services. The goal is to minimize rider impacts from any reductions we make, to keep people connected to food/grocery, medical, and pharmacy services as well as essential work trips.

SEE THE UPDATED ROUTE 268 SCHEDULE: bft.org/Services/Route-268/

View the press release: bft.org/press-release-ben-franklin-transit-to-reduce-frequency-on-one-bus-route-effective-april-6/

 

Posted: March 31, 2020

LOOKING AHEAD…

In our ongoing effort to balance maximum connectivity to essential locations with staffing considerations during this rapidly evolving situation, BFT is looking into options for service reduction. We have no such announcements at this moment, however if and when we do make those decisions, we will share the details on our BFT website and on social media (Facebook and Twitter).

We appreciate your support as we continue providing essential services to our community as fully and safely as possible, while prioritizing the health and well-being of our valued employees. 

 

Posted: March 24, 2020

NOTICE TO CUSTOMERS: BFT will continue to provide transportation services and as of now, we will operate on our normal schedule, however we urge all community members to follow Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy guidance, which includes only leaving your home for ESSENTIAL TRIPS (i.e. grocery store, medical appointments, pharmacy). If changes are made to our services, we will update our BFT website, post on social media (Facebook and Twitter), and any other means necessary to inform the public.

Please be mindful when using our services and keeping a safe distance from our drivers and other passengers. BFT has also implemented no fare collection and rear-door bus entry to support social distancing.

Stay safe, and please stay home, and follow the guidance of the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.

Posted: March 20, 2020

NOTICE TO CUSTOMERS: The BFT Customer Service office at Three Rivers Transit Center is CLOSED to the public until further notice, and pass sales are temporarily suspended while fares are not being collected. Phone support remains available Mon-Fri 6am to 7pm and Sat 8am to 7pm at this time. We will post updates here and on our social media pages as anything changes. Thank you for your patience and understanding.‚Äč

Posted: March 17, 2020

View BFT's March 17 press release

Effective March 18, 2020, BFT is taking the following additional precautionary measures:

  1. Discontinue fare collection for bus, Dial-A-Ride, and General Demand services until April 11, 2020. This date will be reviewed as it gets closer to determine whether an extension is prudent. Customers with March passes will be able to use them through the end of April, and April passes will not be available for purchase until the date for return to normal fare collection is confirmed.
  2. Close the front doors of the bus. Riders will enter and exit the buses using the rear entrance only to maintain proper social distancing for drivers. Once onboard, riders are asked to maintain a six-foot distance between themselves and the driver and stagger seating to maintain that same distance from other passengers. PLEASE NOTE: Customers who require ramp assistance to board will be notified by the driver that another vehicle will be immediately dispatched to their location for pickup.

Posted: March 13, 2020

View BFT's March 13 press release

Effective March 13, 2020, BFT measures include:
- Daily sanitation of all buses and Dial-A-Ride vehicles using a hospital grade disinfectant
- Sanitation of all Vanpool vans before returning them to service
- Disinfection of high touch surfaces in our facilities
- Closure of public restrooms at Three Rivers Transit Center (lobby remains open at this time)
- Frequent communications to BFT staff
- Public posts like this one!

We also have hand sanitizer dispensers on order for all buses (they’re already on all Dial-A-Rides), and will install them the moment they arrive.

Posted: March 4, 2020

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new virus strain spreading from person-to-person in China and other countries, including the United States.

How does COVID-19 spread?

Health experts are still learning the details. Currently, it is thought to spread:

  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes
  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet).
  • It may be possible that a person can become infected by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, but this is not the main way the virus spreads.

What is Ben Franklin Transit doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

BFT vehicles are cleaned DAILY with a hospital grade disinfectant, and sanitizer dispensers will soon be installed on all buses (already on our Dial-A-Ride vehicles).

How can I protect myself from COVID-19?

  • It is critical to follow the precautions being emphasized by health authorities. Among the most important is staying home and avoiding public places if you experience symptoms.
  • Remember to cover your mouth/nose when coughing and sneezing.
  • Avoid close contact with people who appear to be sick. We know it can be difficult on the bus, but remember it’s not rude to get up and move if you need to.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you do not have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol concentration.

The most effective way to prevent the spread of disease are things we can all do ourselves. We strongly encourage everyone to follow these recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick.

Together we can help control the spread of this and other viruses. 

For more information, visit:

Thank you for your continued patience and support during this time.

IF YOU ARE NOT FEELING WELL, DO NOT TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. Call your healthcare provider before you leave your home and follow their guidance.

To protect our passengers and drivers, BFT will continue daily disinfection procedures in all our vehicles and facilities. Our top priorities are to continue service and to keep our employees and customers healthy and safe. We appreciate everyone who is working with us to make this possible.