Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority buses will resume full service on Sunday, debuting service changes in the North Shore, downtown and North Brainerd areas while maintaining certain COVID-19 precautions.
Service changes include:
— The North Shore Shuttle will extend to the North Chattanooga area that will replace the #2 North Chattanooga bus route. This will provide the North Shore and North Chattanooga communities with service six days a week and, as it will be an extension of the shuttle system, the service will be free.
— The Downtown Shuttle will be extended to Broad Street to serve the Historic St. Elmo community and the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway. This new shuttle route will replace the #15 St. Elmo bus route and provide the St. Elmo community with service seven days a week. It also will be free.
— CARTA will consolidate three bus routes, #5 North Brainerd, #8 Eastdale and #19 Cromwell Road into one dial-a-ride route to be renamed as Route #5 North Brainerd/Cromwell Road. This expanded dial-a-ride route will serve these three communities and also serve the Chattanooga Veterans Administration Clinic on Shallowford Road. The buses will leave the Walmart on Greenway View Drive every 30 minutes with service six days a week.
While the local mask mandate established by Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger in July was lifted last month, masks will still be required on public transportation, according to a release by CARTA.
"Per the federal mask mandate effective February 1st, facial coverings are required and must be worn on all CARTA buses and property for everyone age 2 and older," the release states. "Masks are available on the buses. Noncompliance of this mask mandate is a violation of federal law."
The federal mandate, issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the end of January, states:
"People must wear masks that cover both the mouth and nose when awaiting, boarding, traveling on, or disembarking public conveyances. People must also wear masks when entering or on the premises of a transportation hub in the United States."
CARTA will also continue other COVID-19 practices, including free fare on all routes, rear door boarding and limited capacity of between 15 and 19 riders, depending on bus size, a spokesperson said Thursday.
For more information on routes, schedules and services, call the CARTA Information Line at 423-629-1473 or visit www.gocarta.org.
CARTA's routes and schedule web page will be updated to reflect the changes beginning Sunday.
Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @_sarahgtaylor.