COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — Texas A&M's Transportation Services drives nearly 2 million miles a year, but during the pandemic, how many passengers are still riding?
Transportation Services says before COVID-19, they carried an average of 7.5 million passengers a year. Since a pandemic, they have seen an 80% drop in passengers.
Manager Justin Tippy says they have implemented a 40-passenger limit, but they rarely see their vehicles even half full.
"Really we are not seeing anywhere near that number on the bus at the same time. Maybe 15 to 20 people on the bus at the same time, and they are pretty spread far apart," he said.
Tippy says only a fraction of the passengers are still riding. He calls those numbers a reflection of what the university is doing by having both in-person and online classes, which has impacted the number of students on campus.
"We were carrying about 40,000 to 50,000 passengers a day pre-COVID, and right now we are usually about 8,000 to 9,000 passengers per day," Tippy said.
It's an unfamiliar emptiness felt among the student body.
"Honestly, most of the buses are pretty empty, which is kind of surprising because I have heard from past students that the buses are pretty popular, and usually when I get on, there aren't many people on there," freshman Catherine Vu said.
Tippy says to keep everyone safe, Transportation Services has an extensive cleaning process. The buses are also fogged on the weekend with a cleaning agent. They're safety measures that students are noticing.
"A lot less people are on the buses. I see them all the time cleaning and this and that. They are definitely on top of their job," sophomore Zach Rubio said.
Rubio says he had reservations at first about riding the bus during a global pandemic, but he believes Transportation Services is doing everything they can to keep everyone safe.
"There's definitely a lot less people, and maybe some of that is kind of a stigma thing, but from the job they are doing... they are doing a phenomenal job," Rubio added.
Tippy says students have the ability to track the capacity of each bus before they hop on.
Transportation Services' buses are still running the same routes, but now they are running with nearly 10 less buses per day.