Amidst an increase in local coronavirus cases and slow economic recovery, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority are ramping up their efforts to lure in more riders on public transportation.
Bowser issued an emergency order on Monday to extend free ridership on DC’s Circulator buses until September 30. Bowser said in a press statement that the extension is a move to encourage more people to use the Circulator as DC continues to re-open.”Today, more residents, commuters and visitors are traveling in and around the District, and it is essential that they have as many safe, accessible, and affordable public transportation options as possible,” said Bowser. “Keeping the DC Circulator free as long as possible is a crucial part of meeting that objective.”
Meanwhile, WMATA and Capital Bikeshare have also announced a collaborative promotion on Tuesday to lure riders back to public transportation and bike-sharing. Folks who sign up to pay their Metro fare online will get 10 free Capital Bikeshare rides. The promotion runs through December, and the rides will be available for 30 days after signing up. Existing SmarTrip mobile users can also take advantage of the deal.
Unfortunately for the mayor and the transit agency, the news about the various bus and Metro come-ons likely got much less attention than another headline: According to a memo first reported in the Washington Post, just 40 percent of WMATA employees are vaccinated—and the agency doesn’t require employees to get the shot. In the memo to employees on Monday, Paul J. Wiedefeld, WMATA’s CEO and general manager, said that the agency may start mandatory coronavirus testing if the rate doesn’t climb to 70 percent.
Mayor Bowser reinstated the indoor mask mandate for everyone in the District in July and has reportedly been involved in discussions of how to encourage, or even require, DC government employees to be vaccinated.