Valley Metro plans to resume requiring payment from riders next week.

In late March, as part of a response to the pandemic, the bus service shut down its fare boxes, making it free to ride. Officials said it would be safer to eliminate the need for riders to pause and pay at the box, which is adjacent to the driver.

The free period will continue through Tuesday. Starting July 1, payment of a fare will be required.

Other virus protections will remain in effect including a 15-rider limit on fixed-route buses. In addition, front seats are off-limits to provide a buffer for the driver, and riders must exit through the rear door. Valley Metro is asking people who are sick to not use public transportation.

The basic cash fare for a ride on a Valley Metro fixed-route bus operating in Roanoke, Vinton, Salem and a small part of Roanoke County is $1.75.

The single-ride charge is 85 cents for students, people 65 and older and people with disabilities, who must flash a Valley Metro identification card showing discount fare eligibility. Those cards are available at Valley Metro’s administrative headquarters at 1108 Campbell Ave. S.E. from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

Frequent riders can save money by buying a pass. Passes are available in a variety of formats, including 24-hour, seven-day, 31-day and 15-ride.

Jeff Sturgeon covers business, banking, transportation and federal court. Phone: (540) 981-3251. Email: jeff.sturgeon@roanoke.com. Mail: 201 W. Campbell Ave., Roanoke, VA 24011.

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