Suffolk Transit buses are going cashless and taking other measures to increase public health safety as the effects of COVID-19 continue to grow.
Beginning Monday, the cashless system will work via a mobile app: Suffolk Fast Fare. All buses will have a rear-door-only boarding policy, and the first few rows of each bus will be cordoned off to make sure there is a safe distance between the passengers and driver.
The policy follows a similar announcement made by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for New York City buses and the Long Island Rail Road. Cash is being accepted only at ticket machines, and an app called MTA eTix is available to pay fares digitally.
"We want to make sure we're doing everything we can while at the same time continuing to operate critical transportation infrastructure," Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone said on Sunday afternoon. "We're going to continue to do that, but take every measure we can to protect those drivers."
The cost of the fares themselves has not changed.
A policy instituted by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday mandated that senior citizens and other vulnerable populations avoid public transportation as much as possible. Sick people should also avoid the system, and those headed to medical appointments should use buses and trains only if their health care providers give them permission to do so.
Governor Cuomo also ordered all nonessential businesses in the state to close or shift to work-from-home policies as of 8 p.m. Sunday. Workers considered essential include grocery store employees, pharmacy staff, food service employees, health care workers, sanitation and utility workers, building repair and maintenance, and others.
The State Legislature also passed a paid sick leave law protecting jobs and providing financial resources for those who are impacted by mandatory quarantines. People working from home do not qualify for benefits in most cases. The state website with more information on this can be found at governor.ny.gov/programs/paid-sick-leave-covid-19-impacted-new-yorkers.
"No one should have to make the impossible choice between losing their job or providing for their family and going to work, especially during this pandemic," Governor Cuomo said in a statement.