PVTA Response Commences March 23, 2020
PVTA instituted on March 23rd modified Saturday service levels on the fixed route and paratransit systems. This decision was made as an effort to balance our obligation to support much needed access to groceries, pharmacies and employment with the concerns of employees to limit their risk of exposure and to address the workforce logistics of childcare associated with the daycare and K-12 closings.
These circumstances limit the number of vehicles we have operating on a daily basis. If we are to fully enforce the 10 passengers per bus recommendation, on certain routes, there will be people left behind at the bus stops. Instead of drivers by-passing riders at stops, we are asking riders to make a choice if they want to ride on a bus that already has 10 people onboard or wait for the next bus (that may or may not already have 10 people onboard).
We have also posted notices that urge passengers to limit their travel for essential trips only. This week is more difficult than other weeks as it is the end of the month and the beginning of April. These times are the busiest times for PVTA as the ridership spikes reflecting the arrival of state assistance for some passengers.
Balancing the need to provide access to essential services and employment with the no more than 10 individuals in a group setting is a continuing effort. We hold discussions daily and will be looking to see how the implementation of the CARES Act tomorrow affect our workforce. This is an evolving crisis and as such we are working to do the best we can with the resources we have available.
As concerns about coronavirus in the Pioneer Valley region increase, we want to assure our passengers and employees that PVTA is monitoring the situation and are basing our response on guidance from the Governor’s Baker emergency actions, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Our efforts to respond evolve with the situation. We are presently taking the following actions across our system:
- All vehicles are being thoroughly cleaned daily with disinfectants. We have increased the amount of time and attention our maintenance department spends cleaning each vehicle.
- PVTA has acquired new disinfecting systems that will allow us to disinfect each vehicle more frequently.
- PVTA drivers continue to clean high contact areas of the vehicle throughout their shifts, and we continue to provide them with sanitizer, gloves, and disinfecting wipes to use on the vehicle.
Passenger and Driver Responsibilities
Passengers are also encouraged to participate in helping to limit the spread of this virus. You can help by maintaining distance between each other whenever possible while riding. Limit seating in the wheelchair accessible seats except for the elderly and disabled. Other things you can do include covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing (or by coughing or sneezing into your elbow), not littering or leaving any waste behind when you leave the vehicle, and most importantly by not riding if you have symptoms such as: a cough, fever or shortness of breath.
Information concerning the COVID-19 virus and the response changes minute to minute. Please continue to check the website and social media for updated information regarding transit service.
In a continuing effort to protect the health and safety of the PVTA’s customers, workforce and to preserve transit services to employees in key industries and workers with limited or no other transportation options or for individuals that otherwise must travel for purposes that are absolutely necessary, the PVTA is strongly urging customers to avoid any and all unnecessary travel.
As part of the PVTA’s process of monitoring ridership and making service adjustments, the PVTA continues to strongly discourage all non-essential travel. Passengers riding around at the end of the line will be asked to deboard the bus.
The PVTA will continue to monitor this situation and may make further revisions in service based on guidance from public health professionals to support social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19.
PVTA has taken measure to protect the health and safety of both the passengers and workforce.
To protect our passengers:
- PVTA has instituted a daily procedure of cleaning vehicles with disinfectants. We have increased the amount of time and attention our maintenance departments spends cleaning each vehicle.
- Buses and vans have notices posted for recommended passenger practices for social distancing.
- We are limiting seating in the wheelchair accessible seats except for the elderly and disabled.
- Passengers are encouraged to board through the back door and those with disabilities can continue to use the front door as needed.
- The Customer Service window at Union Station and the Holyoke Transit Center have been modified and open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- ADA in person eligibility determination is being conducted via the phone.
To protect our drivers:
- Driver space and fare boxes are disinfected daily.
- Personal protection equipment and sanitizing wipes are available to all drivers.
- The area where the wheelchair accessible seats are located has been cordoned off to provide the driver with the minimum six feet of distancing.