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One of the Riga city buses

Riga equips buses with lights to indicate safe occupancy levels

Riga equips buses with lights to indicate safe occupancy levels

The city is also changing bus timetables due to many drivers falling ill with Covid-19

Latvia has been in a state of lockdown since 22 October, the first European country to reimpose the strictest of measures this fall. That means that until 15 November (when a re-evaluation is due) all non-essential businesses and services are closed and there is a night curfew after 8 pm.

This would explain why the capital Riga reported that since that date the number of bus commuters has dropped by 63% (on weekdays) and by 68% (on weekends), compared to September. Nevertheless, there is also a shortage of bus drivers now in the city, since many of them have fallen ill with coronavirus or have been in contact with someone infected. Taking these two factors into account the authorities have decided to revise some of the timetables and departure frequency of the city buses.

Latvia’s vaccination rate is still lagging

Reportedly, 22% of the drivers’ pool of the city is currently off duty for health reasons, although Covid-19 isn’t always the reason.

“Currently, the number of sick employees of Rīgas satiksme (public transport company) has reached a critical level, therefore, in order to ensure the continuity of the passenger transport service, we are forced to reduce the number of departures. It is better for the number of trips to be less frequent but predictable than more frequent, but unable to implement. Of course, this will present difficulties for Rigans, but we urge passengers to seriously evaluate each trip and postpone less important trips as much as possible,” urged Deputy Mayor Vilnis Ķirsis.

In order to inform passengers about the occupancy of the bus, and so they can make a decision whether to board the bus or wait for the next one, Rīgas satiksme has equipped 50 buses with a light indicator. 

The red signal will light up when the cabin filling is approaching the maximum - 50% occupancy and the passenger will be able to decide to board the bus or choose to wait for the next flight. These buses run on bus routes 3 and 49, as these routes have the largest number of passengers and occupancy of all bus routes. 

Also, all the newest Rīgas satiksme vehicles are equipped with automatic passenger counting systems. Thus, when the vehicle's interior is approaching 50% occupancy, dispatchers receive a signal that allows them to react quickly and assign an additional vehicle.

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