Twin Cities transit shut down through weekend

News Wire Digest for May 29: Pacific Surfliner returns to San Luis Obispo; Metra outlines plans as Chicago area reopens
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Friday morning rail news in brief:

Metro Transit shutdown extended through weekend, now includes commuter rail

Citing safety concerns over ongoing civil unrest, Metro Transit in Minneapolis/St. Paul has extended its suspension of all bus and light rail service through Sunday, and expanded it to include Northstar commuter rail. The lone exception is the Blue Line airport shuttle, which continues to operate between Terminal 1, Terminal 2, and Fort Snelling. The shutdown began Thursday morning with suspension of Blue Line service and was extended to cover all transit by Thursday afternoon. The agency plans to update the status of service by 8 p.m. on Sunday, May 31.

Surfliner to resume service to San Luis Obispo
Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner will restore some service on June 1, serving San Luis Obispo, Calif., with one round trip daily and also extending another train from Los Angeles to Goleta, Calif. Southbound, train No. 774 will depart San Luis Obispo at 6:55 a.m., arriving in San Diego at 3:28 p.m.; northbound, train No. 777 will depart San Diego at 12:05 p.m. and arrive in San Luis Obispo at 8:36 p.m. Also, northbound train No. 785, departing San Diego at 3:58 p.m., will serve Goleta, arriving at 10:04 p.m. Buses will provide connections from Goleta to San Luis Obispo for two other trains, while two trains will have bus connections from San Luis Obispo to Goleta. Surfliner schedules were cut back on March 23; while there has been bus service in the interim, the only rail service to the central coast community was aboard the Coast Starlight. More information on the Surfliner response to the COVID-19 pandemic is available here.

Metra will add cars to accommodate social distancing
Metra will continue to operate with its current reduced schedules in early June, but plans to add cars to trains to ensure social distancing, the Chicago-area commuter railroad says, as part of its plans as COVID-19 stay-at-home orders are eased. Metra says it will aim for trains that are no more than half full, with one passenger per two seats on the lower level and every other seat on the upper level (with exceptions for families and others traveling together). The agency says that if it suspects there is potential for a train to become more crowded, it will try to operate an unscheduled train behind that train to aid in handling waiting passengers, or begin to add more scheduled trains. Metra will also begin accepting cash again as of June 1 but “strongly encourages” passengers to buy tickets via the Ventra smartphone app to limit interactions between crew and passengers.



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