Feds issue pandemic advice to transit agencies

Federal officials have advised transit agencies to take steps to prevent the spread of the coronovirus, like cleaning trains and buses. Metro Atlanta agencies say they’re already following that advice. (MARTA PHOTO)
Federal officials have advised transit agencies to take steps to prevent the spread of the coronovirus, like cleaning trains and buses. Metro Atlanta agencies say they’re already following that advice. (MARTA PHOTO)

Federal officials have issued new health and safety advice for transit agencies amid the coronavirus pandemic – advice metro Atlanta agencies say they're already following.

The Federal Transit Administration Tuesday advised transit agencies to provide protective equipment to employees, encourage social distancing on transit vehicles, clean vehicles and take other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“During the COVID-19 public health emergency, transit agencies across the country are continuing to provide millions of trips a day to lifeline services and to carry healthcare and other essential workers to critical jobs,” the safety advisory said.

The advisory offered no specific guidelines – like which workers should get masks or how to encourage social distancing. Instead it encourages agencies to establish their own policies and procedures to address the details.

Public transportation systems in metro Atlanta have already announced such measures. MARTA, Xpress bus and other agencies began enhanced cleaning of transit vehicles and stations last month. They also recently began boarding passengers at the rear of buses to distance passengers from drivers and have taken other steps to encourage social distancing.

Last week MARTA began distributing 250,000 masks to employees and has provided $500 "hero" bonuses to front-line workers and those who can't work from home.

MARTA spokeswoman Stephany Fisher said MARTA has followed a pandemic action plan that adheres to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Transit Administration and other agencies.

Ericka Davis, spokeswoman for the State Road and Tollway Authority, said the Xpress bus system supports the FTA recommendations and has taken steps to comply with CDC guidelines, like enhanced cleaning, social distancing and educating employees and customers.

“This week we will be posting the CDC guidelines related to face masks at our park-and-ride facilities as a part of our continuing efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” Davis said.

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