BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Erie County Legislature Chairwoman April Baskin proposed an NFTA essential worker pass to limit the amount of people using public transportation. The pass would only allow essential workers, such as those in the healthcare industry, grocery store workers, etc., to use the NFTA.
"We should work on limiting the non-essential residents riding the bus and putting essential workers riding the bus iin jeopardy when it comes to spreading COVID-19," Baskin said.
She said the goal is to eliminate joyriders who are not traveling for essential reasons. Baskin said she has received several calls regarding teens and children taking advantage of the suspended fare collection and traveling non-essentially.
Helen Tederous, an NFTA spokesperson, said their police manage the joyriders on a case by case basis. She also mentioned there has been a 77% decrease in the amount of riders.
"There are clearly not a lot of people traveling," said Tederous.
The NFTA said public transportation is for essential travel only. It has made changes in addition to the suspended fair collection. Riders now board the buses form the back to limit contact with the driver. Tederous said the essential rider pass defeats the purpose of that change.
"It's very, very important to eliminate close proximity between the rider and the operator. Having a pass shown would defeat that purpose. It would defeat what we're really working hard at... given boarding and exiting at the rear of the bus," Tederous said.
By limiting travel to only essential workers, others' lives may be hindered.
"Many people depend on public transportation to get to the grocery store, to get to pharmacies, to get essential shopping done. That's what's taking place right now," said Tederous.
That's why Baskin said this proposal needs to be fleshed out with the NFTA.
"So maybe we need to explore having an essential worker pass when there are shift changes. The point here is that we need to have a conversation," Baskin said.