VIA unveils 'Essential Service’ schedule

New changes preserve transit service for essential workers amid COVID-19 crisis

VIA Bus (VIA Metropolitan Transit)

SAN ANTONIO – VIA Metropolitan Transit will begin operating what it calls an “Essential Service” schedule starting Monday.

According to a news release, the new schedule maintains or improves current schedules for routes that continue to see high ridership and adjusts others based on changing conditions, such as lower demand and available resources.

The schedule is designed to preserve essential service for people who must travel for work at an exempted business or operation, obtain food and supplies or help care for others. Several routes will move to “Sunday” schedules on Monday, with some exceptions, including additional frequency on select routes that continue to be highly utilized.

VIA bus riders over 10 years old required to wear face masks

As ridership declines and staffing levels fluctuate, VIA is looking for ways to continue operating safely for those who need it most while accounting for COVID-19-related factors impacting ridership and staffing levels. VIA has seen about 45% fewer riders compared to this time last year. In addition, about 150 VIA operators and other essential staff are on Emergency Family Medical Leave , which allows employees to take leave to care for loved ones at home. The new service changes account for these two and other factors.

Routes moved to a “Saturday” schedule on April 6, running at about 80% of pre-COVID19- levels, in response to ridership dropping. The agency set a safe capacity limit of 16 passengers per trip, which amount to a half-full bus load, to allow for social distancing on April 8. Monday’s changes represent an additional 4% reduction to current service levels to adjust for available staff. Riders are reminded to only make essential trips during this time, and observe the city’s “Stay Home, Work Safe” order that requires residents in the area to shelter in place and help slow the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing and wearing a face covering in public.

  • The following changes for VIA’s fixed-route bus service will go into effect Monday, April 27, 2020, and will continue until further notice.
  • Monday-Sunday, most VIA routes will be on “Sunday” Schedule unless an exception is listed.
  • Routes, extensions, or branches that do not normally run on Sunday will not operate unless an exception is listed.
  • Weekday schedules in operation have been modified to accommodate early trips.
  • No changes to VIAtrans and VIAlink service.

See the list below that includes the schedule each route will follow. Please visit for specific route schedules.

VIA Essential Bus Service Routes (KSAT)
VIA Essential Bus Service Routes (KSAT)

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David Ibañez has been managing editor of since the website's launch in October 2000.