All passengers will be required to wear masks or face coverage

ROCKFORD — The Rockford Mass Transit District is reducing its daily routes after six employees, including five drivers, tested positive for COVID-19.


The changes take effect Monday.


RMTD said Thursday that two employees tested positive for COVID-19. With the total at six as of Friday, the district says it was forced to cut back public bus routes.


"The number of staff affected is limiting RMTD’s ability to provide the extra service needed when buses reach capacity and social distancing measures cannot be maintained," RMTD said in a news release. "By reducing the number of routes during the day, RMTD will be able to better manage vehicle capacity while still maintaining coverage to most of the district’s service area."


RMTD previously had not put a capacity on how many people could ride the bus at a time, instead asking drivers to determine when social distancing guidelines could no longer be adhered to and calling for a shuttle to pick up the remaining passengers.


Now, the buses will be limited to 10 passengers. All passengers will also be required to wear a mask or other face covering.


Starting at 6:15 a.m. Monday, RMTD’s weekday route schedule will be reduced to the five existing Sunday routes, plus four additional routes to round out its service.


Service will now start at 6:15 a.m. and end at 6:40 p.m. on weekdays. Weekend routes will run from 9:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. and consist of the five traditional Sunday routes. Service to Belvidere has been suspended.


Starting Monday, the No. 41, 42, 43, 44, and 45 routes will run hourly for the first two hours and the last two hours of each day. The remaining schedule, from 8:45 a.m. until 3:15 p.m., will operate every 30 minutes. Service begins and ends at the downtown transfer center for these routes.


RMTD will also run three of its regular routes, the No. 6 Kilburn, the No. 20 Alpine Crosstown and the No. 22 North Second Street to extend coverage weekdays only. It will operate a modified version of the No. 16 and No. 17 City Loop routes to cover the far east side of Rockford on weekdays only.


The modifications to the additional weekday service include the No. 6 Kilburn route starting at 6:15 a.m. and running every 45 minutes until 6:45 p.m. The No. 20 Alpine Crosstown will start at 9:30 a.m. and run every 60 minutes until 4:05 p.m. The No. 22 North Second will start at 9:45 and run every 60 minutes, ending at the downtown transfer center at 5:50 p.m.


The City Loops No. 16 and No. 17 have been modified to run weekdays only from Rockford Career College to North Town in 60-minute intervals.


For more details on the routes go to rmtd.org.


Kevin Haas: khaas@rrstar.com; @KevinMHaas