Coronavirus Scales Back Niles Free Bus Schedule, Suspends Rosemont Circulator
Ridership Across Pace Suburban Bus System Down By More Than Half
After a drop by more than half in ridership across all routes in the Pace Suburban Bus system attributed to the COVID-19 coronavirus, Pace announced temporary cutbacks in service to Niles Free Bus routes and the temporary suspension of service of the Rosemont Entertainment Circulator bus.
Pace officials said Niles Free Bus routes 410, 411 and 412 temporarily began operating weekday service on a modified Saturday-Sunday schedule until further notice. Service on Saturdays and Sundays would continue to operate as scheduled, Pace officials said.
John Giannetti, Niles superintendent of fleet and facilities, said Free Bus routes saw a significant drop in morning commuters after Gov. JB Pritzker’s “stay-at-home” order was issued last week, but saw normal ridership levels in the afternoon when seniors often use the bus for shopping.
The Route 811 Rosemont Entertainment Circulator saw service suspended Monday, March 23.
Regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Pace officials said they are disinfecting their fleet on a daily basis. “An intensive disinfecting step was added to our daily cleaning regimen,” they said. “Operators are given hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for use throughout the day.”
Pace officials are also communicating with riders about health issues, advocating “social distancing,” closing indoor spaces to limit the virus’s spread and coordinating with other agencies.
Pace buses used on Niles Free Bus routes are housed, maintained and operated by the village of Niles through an agreement with Pace.
Giannetti said Niles Free buses follow all Pace cleaning mandates. They are cleaned every morning before they leave the garage, and at end of the shift, cleaned with a hospital-grade disinfectant left all night in the passenger cabin. Niles has an 11-bus fleet, including four spare buses. Dispatch staff deep cleans those extra buses on a rotating schedule on weekends.