Saginaw Transit Authority Regional Services (STARS) has run reduced services and waived fares during the Covid-19 pandemic. As the State gears up for reopening parts of the economy, STARS is carefully planning the next steps to bring more services back to the City. STARS is currently providing over 600 essential trips per week with curb-to-curb and Rides to Wellness services and expects demand to increase as more people return to work. STARS will continue providing only essential trips for riders, which includes: Medical/pharmacy, grocery, and job transportation needs. STARS asks riders not to call to schedule trips that do not fit in these categories.
Riders should not expect to see City Route buses hitting the road this month, and should plan accordingly. “Unfortunately, we can’t just slam on the gas and open up the entire 9-route system. My focus is on expanding services safely. Things still are far from normal and we are only now starting recovery from this pandemic. I don’t want an unprepared STARS to be the reason we see a spike in cases in Saginaw. We have one chance to do this right,” said Glenn Steffens, Executive Director of STARS. STARS is developing best practices for transportation, including boarding procedures, training, barriers between passenger rows in vehicles, masks and hand sanitizer available on all vehicles, barriers to protect bus drivers, and other safety measures.
STARS’s goal is to have a substitute for bus routes in place by the beginning of July. This new service will be called STARS Flexroute. Flexroute will be a mobility-on-demand service: “Think ride-hailing applications meet city bus routes. That’s Flexroute,” said Steffens, adding, “In addition to preparing and training our staff for this new service model, STARS also will assist the community through an informational campaign about how to use this new service. This is a big part of the reason we can’t just ‘flip’ an on switch. This plan has been in development since March and will take us several weeks to deploy. Until then, we ask that the public be patient with us as we gear back up to operate safely.”