HELENA — Helena’s bus service is temporarily suspending its route to East Helena and the East Valley, as fewer staff are available due to COVID-19.
Capital Transit leaders announced the East Valley bus service will stop running as of Monday, Dec. 7, and will remain suspended until further notice.
David Knoepke, Helena’s transportation systems director, said they are currently operating without many backup drivers.
“We just want to make sure that we can keep our primary mission going: the fixed routes and the paratransit,” he said. “This is a precautionary measure so that, if we do have somebody get sick, we have the backup.”
During the pandemic, Capital Transit has been limiting the number of riders on each bus and requiring more distancing. They also take buses out of service from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day so they can go through deep cleaning.
“We’re just trying to provide the best service we can by keeping our staff as safe as possible – and the same with the public, making sure that the rides that we provide are safe and clean,” said Knoepke. “As soon as we have the resources to bring back that East Valley route, then we’ll get that back up in operation.”
The East Valley bus was also suspended for several months during the spring and summer. Knoepke said they have been looking at ways to possibly “re-envision the route” going forward, and they’ll continue those discussions in the coming months.