Rochester Public Transit will resume fare collection and front-door boarding on regular-route transit buses on Jan. 24, after nearly a year of fare-free service.

Also on that date, the citywide bus service will change the numbering on 16 of its routes. No schedule or geographic coverage changes are expected to accompany the numbering changes at this time.

Buses suspended fare collection last year in April for passenger and operator safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, passengers have been required to board buses using the rear door.

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Acrylic barriers are now in place near the farebox on RPT’s fleet of fixed-route transit vehicles. The barriers provide an additional measure of protection against the spread of COVID-19 and allow for these changes.

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Many additional safety measures remain in place, including enhanced daily cleaning, a face-covering requirement for passengers and operators, and a 50% capacity limit on passengers.

Evidence suggests these actions, along with cooperation from RPT passengers, have been effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19 on RPT buses.

“Safety of our passengers and operators is always our No. 1 concern,” said RPT Physical Development Manager Ia Xiong. “With safety barriers now in place, we are able to move public transit in Rochester forward with confidence.”

The route number changes are part of enhancements outlined in RPT’s 2017 Transit Development Plan. While losses in ridership due to the pandemic have slowed the expansion portion of the plan, the renumbering is a step in that direction.

The new numbering system is designed to be easy to understand for new riders and to allow for future expansion. New 3-digit route numbers use the first digit to indicate which of four geographic quadrants the route operates. Northeast Rochester routes will begin with the numeral 1, Southeast with 2, Southwest with 3, and Northwest with 4.

Another change replaces the “D” used to identify routes that serve the city’s four park-and-ride locations with an “X” to indicate express service. Park-and-ride lots and corresponding direct routes previously located at Cub Foods and Target South remain suspended, with no plans to reintroduce them at this time.

“Further evidence of forward momentum can be seen in the implementation of the new route numbers,” Xiong said. “Before the pandemic, our system had three years of very strong service growth. We do expect to return to that trajectory in the next planning period.”

Information regarding the new numbering system is posted online at rptride.com, with new maps and schedules expected to be available as service goes into effect later this month.