Trains News Wire Digest for Saturday, March 28

San Francisco Muni to shut down light rail; service cuts for Utah, Canadian remote rail services; Amtrak goes cashless
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A Saturday morning update of rail operation changes because of the COVID-19 outbreak:

— San Francisco’s Muni is shutting down all light rail service as of Monday, March 30, replacing the service with buses. Subway stations will be closed, except for those also used by Bay Area Rapid Transit trains. Closure of the Muni Metro subway system “will allow us to redirect custodial resources to other, higher-use facilities and minimizes risk to our station agents,” the agency said in a blog post.  

— With ridership down by 65%, the Utah Transit Authority has announced it will significantly reduce service effective April 5. The Salt Lake Tribune reports plans are to operate half as often, with light rail service moving from 15-minute to 30-minute headways and commuter rail operation from 30- to 60-minute headways on weekdays. Bus service will see similar reductions.

— One of Canada’s remote-service trains has reduced service because of the COVID-19 virus, while another has suspended operations. Ontario Northland has reduced its Polar Bear Express service from four days to two days a week. In a change made on Thursday, the train will now make round trips between Cochrane and Moosonee, Ont., on Mondays and Thursdays. The railroad will continue to operate freight trains on Tuesdays and Fridays and will use those trains for any express freight shipments (such as medical supplies) to maintain four-day-a-week service for customers. Meanwhile, Tshiuetin Rail Transportation has suspended the next two round trips of its service between Sept-Iles, Quebec, and Emeril Junction, Labrador, set for March 31-April 1 and April 7-8. Service is currently scheduled to resume April 14.

— Amtrak has joined a growing number of rail commuter and transit agencies in ending cash transactions because of the COVID-19 virus. The national passenger railroad is now only accepting cashless payments in stations and on trains. Metrolinx, the parent agency for Toronto’s GO Transit, is among a number of transit agencies no longer accepting cash; some agencies have stopped collecting fares altogether in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Passengers should check their local agency’s website for current payment policies.


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