COVID-19 prompts free bus rides, PDA cuts in Jefferson County

PORT TOWNSEND — In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jefferson Public Transit Authority has made bus rides fare free until further notice and are having riders who do not need to use the lift or ramp to enter from the back door of the bus, officials said.

Jefferson Transit Authority’s customer service and administrative lobby is closed to the public and representatives can be reached by phone at 360-385-4777 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., officials said.

The Fort Worden Public Development Authority (PDA) has cut operations and have placed 65 employees on standby as of Wednesday, and have laid off 10 who were ineligible for standby, said Dave Robison, executive director, on Thursday.

Both PDA restaurants have been closed and the PDA has a crew of 14 working on critical operations so that operation can resume quickly once safe to do so, Robison said.

The temporary staff reduction is expected to last into May, he added.

“This was a very difficult decision,” Robison said. “Our employees are dedicated to Fort Worden and our partners and customers, and we look forward to bringing them back as soon as possible.

“But right now we are in a crisis and Washington state is at the epicenter of this country’s outbreak.”

The remaining crew at Fort Worden will offer limited hospitality and public services; it is still open for visitors who want to rent overnight accommodations.

Some staff are fielding phone calls and working with customers who have reservations for conferences and other gatherings at Fort Worden, and helping them to reschedule their events to later in the year or into 2021, said Robison.

Fort Worden State Park remains open. Visitors can still access the beach, bunkers and other park amenities with a Discover Pass or day-use pass.

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