Two city bus drivers off duty as COVID-19 precaution

Employees of The MAD Unit wear Hazmat suits work to sanitize a New Castle Area Transit Authority bus. The learn more about the business, see page A2.

The New Castle Area Transit Authority is taking precautions after a city bus driver started showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Authority General Manager David Richards said the driver is being tested for the coronavirus. Another driver, who relieved the first bus operator, is also being monitored.  

"We took them out of service and asked them to be self-quarantined," Richards said. "Those two have had no symptoms, but we do that for precautionary measures."

Three buses also have been taken out of service to be cleaned and sanitized. The entire NCATA fleet of vehicles is undergoing daily cleaning. The authority cut some routes, including Friday runs to the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, which is closed. With businesses closed and people employing social distancing and other health measures, buses have been carrying fewer passengers.

"Our ridership is probably off somewhere in total around 40 percent," Richards said.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday added Lawrence County to his order to stay at home as the new virus expanded its reach and Pennsylvania reported another big jump in confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths.

"With this new stay-at-home order, we're going to monitor it in the next several days," Richards said. "We may have to make some additional service cut decisions based on on ridership."

The transit authority, beginning Monday, allowed passengers to ride for free. Senior citizens — who normally ride for free — are asked to continue showing their Senior Pass to drivers. This decision was based on safety, Richards added. That measure eliminates the exchange of money or passes from the driver to the passenger. 

While on the buses, passengers are directed by signs to sit at least six feet apart. 

"We just ask that everyone out there to pay attention to the social distancing rules," Richards said.

Digital editor

Pete Sirianni is the News' digital editor. Previously, he worked at The Bradford (Pa.) Era. Sirianni is a 2016 IUP graduate, earning a degree in journalism and public relations. Contact him at or on Twitter at @PeterSirianni.

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