How to Commute Safely During the Pandemic

Even with the need for physical distancing and many people working from home, transit and carpooling are available for those who need them. Here is some information on how to use each safely these days. 

Riding the bus 

Our region’s amazing buses have been running throughout the pandemic! All passengers must wear masks and keep at least 6’ of distance from others as they board, ride, and disembark the bus. The bus companies have strict sanitation protocols in place to keep passengers and drivers safe. Several use plastic barriers around rows of seats to minimize contact between passengers. Here a guide from the State of Vermont on riding public transit during the pandemic, good guidance even if you live and travel in New Hampshire. 

Before riding, please check out the specific COVID-19 route/schedule changes and more from our local bus companies:

You can ride all Upper Valley commuter buses for free right now! 

  • All commuter buses in Vermont are currently running fare-free.
  • Sullivan County Transit (Southwestern Community Services) is running fare-free.

Since physical distance is maintained on the bus by limiting the number of passengers to keep some seats empty, please take the bus only if you have no other transportation option. That way, there is room on the bus for those who must ride. 

Carpools

Fewer people are carpooling in these times of COVID, but if you do need a ride, carpooling is open. Please wear a mask if you are a driver or a passenger, and limit the total number of vehicle occupants to two, if possible. Keep the windows open if you can! Avoid sharing a ride if you have symptoms of or think you have been exposed to coronavirus. You can read more about precautions for carpooling from the CDC. You can find a carpool at Go! Vermont (or on the Go! Vermont app available at the App Store or on Google Play) or at New Hampshire Rideshare. Please note that since fewer drivers are comfortable with carpooling these days, you may have to wait longer to find a match. Likewise, if you don’t have to find a ride with someone, consider finding another mode of transportation to save that seat for someone who has no other option. 

Still Have Questions?

If you live or work in Vermont, and have any questions about your transportation options or need a ride, please call the Go! Vermont help line at 800-685-7433. No matter where you live in the Upper Valley, you can also email uvtma@vitalcommunities.org with questions about your options and we will either answer your question or direct you to someone who can.

You can also check out our Getting Around the Upper Valley page for more info. 

Safe Routes to School During Pandemic

School reopening is the big topic right now: how to do it safely, effectively, and efficiently. New requirements for health checks, physical distancing, and reduced bus capacity are likely to create bottlenecks, congestion, and lost instructional time at pick-up and drop-off. At the same time, students and their families may be seeking physical activity and stress relief—available through walking and biking. Below, find several resources that may be useful to school communities!

Check out this webinar from our friends at Local Motion to help school communities lessen transportation challenges this fall by encouraging walking and biking. (The PDF of the webinar presentation can be found here.)

Local Motion also offers this resource list, which has guides and information to help school communities through this work. Though geared toward Vermont schools, both resources from Local Motion can be useful to New Hampshire schools as well.

Here are some sources for New Hampshire-specific Safe Routes to School info:

Finally, here is a Safe Routes to School toolkit specifically for fall 2020 from a program in Oregon.

Thanks to Local Motion for contributing content for this post.