Press Release: Ben Franklin Transit to discontinue fare collection, move to rear-door boarding on buses, effective March 18.

March 17, 2020 09:48 PM



Media Contact:

Ali Madison | | 509.571.0711


Ben Franklin Transit to discontinue fare collection, move to rear-door boarding on buses, effective March 18

Agency takes additional steps to ensure driver safety

RICHLAND, Wash. – Ben Franklin Transit (BFT) continues to keep up to date on the latest developments in the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In response to the ever-changing situation, BFT is taking additional measures to protect the health and safety of our employees and our community.

BFT continues to work around the clock to support the Tri-Cities region and slow the spread of COVID-19. Today, BFT General Manager Gloria Boyce, with support from the BFT Board of Directors, advised her team to implement two new measures to strike an appropriate balance of protection for BFT’s front-line employees and their families, our customers, and the surrounding community.

Effective March 18, 2020, in addition to precautions that began last week, Ben Franklin Transit will take the following new 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.

Although there will be no charge for the services noted during this unprecedented time, we ask that the public please strongly consider limiting non-essential trips by any method of transportation to minimize contact with others.

We will continue to provide regular service levels to our community at this time and will notify customers via social media, our website, and other means as appropriate if there are any other changes in service. For the most up-to-date bus schedules we recommend that riders download and use the Transit app, or check

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 the public working with us to make this possible. 

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

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.
  • Stay home when you 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.

If you're experiencing symptoms and have traveled to areas of concern (or have been in contact with someone who has), call ahead to your health-care provider before you go in in person. Arrange for special transportation to and from your medical appointment. Do not use public transportation.

BFT will continue to monitor COVID-19-related developments and take appropriate action using guidance from public health authorities.