In mid-March 2020, we were forced to temporarily suspend services as a result of the evolving SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 crisis. This was the first time we had suspended services beyond the length of a snow day in the entirety of our 33 year history.
We quickly recognized that this was going to be a long-term challenge and thus set out to build an interdisciplinary team to create an entirely new operational model.
This team includes transportation operations specialists, finance and policy specialists, and researchers—including an epidemiology & public health consultant specializing in the coronavirus.
We intentionally included human and research resources from the world of hospital safety because we wanted to be driven by what would be necessary for mitigating large-scale public health risk, not by preexisting transportation industry standards.
The team has reconsidered all aspects of our service from the ground up. Our new protocols include new cleaning procedures, physical alterations to the shuttles, new seating layouts, new personnel roles, and completely new waiting and boarding procedures—all designed to minimize exposure risk and provide multiple layers of protection for our riders, drivers, and staff.
Taken together, these new protocols amount to an entirely new shuttle service. Many will also become part of our permanent operations and thus represent significant service upgrades, even beyond the current crisis.
During all phases of our research and planning, we invested financial and human resources with an eye toward creating assets that would be applicable to other shared transportation services and to all classes of ridership. Beyond the safety of our own drivers and riders, we hope to contribute to the improved safety of public and shared transportation riders across the industry—especially those who are the most transit-dependent. We are also ready to help our member organizations apply similar health and safety principles to their worksites, creating a continuum of safety on and off the shuttle.
We want to be as transparent as possible with our riders and member organizations, and therefore you can read about all of the major aspects of our new protocols below.
Please be mindful that these protocols may be adjusted as they are piloted and as new information about SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 becomes available.
Finally, the information below is just a summary. Our full working protocols document is many times longer, and additional instructional images, animations, and other tips are regularly communicated with our riders via at-station & on-shuttle signage, over twitter, and by email.