WILLIAMSBURG — Starting July 5, the Williamsburg Area Transit Authority (WATA) will resume ridership fares for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since March 2020, ridership fares were waived in order to protect the health and safety of passengers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the safety of the drivers and essential workers using the service, WATA also put a halt to front-door boarding at that time.
WATA spokeswoman Michele Canty said that WATA continued this policy for as long as possible to give staff the opportunity to be vaccinated, as well as for the vaccination rates among the public to rise.
The new change comes with the state vaccination rates meeting President Joe Biden’s July 4 goal, as well as the new fiscal year beginning July 1.
Canty said that these factors led the WATA Board of Directors to accept staff’s recommendation to resume fares during the first week of July.
According to Executive Director Zach Trogdon, WATA was in a position to resume fares in April, but the authority chose to continue to waive fares for riders during a fiscally difficult time.
As of July 5, WATA fares will resume the same price they were previously as listed on the website, with a one-ride standard fare remaining $1.50 and all day pass remaining $3.
“We’re a community agency and our job is to provide this essential service,” Canty said. We were able to offer free rides to the polls for elections and primaries, which WATA will continue to do.”
As of July 5, WATA will continue to be operating at reduced frequencies, affecting routes 1, 2, 3 and 5.
According to Transit Planner Ben Goodill, this year’s ridership numbers have increased since 2020, a year that saw a significant drop in ridership during the pandemic.
Data that was run during the second quarter of the calendar year between April and June of 2020 shows 95,221 riders, while those months of 2021 saw 137,043 riders.
There is currently no capacity limitation on WATA busses, but riders are strongly encouraged to continue social distancing and other safety precautions.
Due to a federal regulation in place until September for all public transportation, riders will still be required to wear masks on the buses.
Canty said that WATA will also continue to clean and sanitize buses nightly and perform deep cleanings every week.