What happens if someone who might have COVID-19 rides a bus?
There’s a lot on our plates everyday, but the most important thing is always the safety of our riders and employees. This takes on a new urgency as we confront the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
We’re realistic: our system is a public space. While we urge people not to ride if they are sick, whether with COVID-19 or something else, we can’t guarantee someone who may have the virus will never board a bus or a train. But we are able to control how we respond.
We will always act with an abundance of caution. If there is any concern that someone on a bus might have been exposed, we’ll take quick action.
In most cases, the bus operator is going to be in the best spot to judge whether their vehicle may have been contaminated, and the discussion of whether a bus needs to be quarantined and cleaned starts with them. Our maintenance staff helps with safely isolating, sealing and disinfecting the vehicle.
If an operator feels someone boarded their bus who may have, or may have come in contact with, COVID-19, they’ll call into dispatch and head to their garage. The bus will be met at the entrance to our bus yard and a member of our maintenance staff, wearing protective gear, will place a quarantine sign on the front door. The driver will not open the door or leave the vehicle just yet.
The operator will drive to an isolated part of the garage away from other buses or people, park, and then exit the bus. By now, their supervisor will have spoken with them to see how they’re doing and to recommend they reach out to their doctor, if necessary
The operator will leave the garage without entering any buildings or interacting with other staff. Even if their risk of exposure was low, we aren’t taking any chances with COVID-19. Drivers may take up to two weeks of leave if advised to self-quarantine by their doctor, and longer if they start feeling ill.
After the bus is parked, members of our maintenance crew place one of our new disinfecting foggers inside the bus. This machine will fill the bus with a hydrogen peroxide-based disinfectant that will penetrate every corner of the bus.
After three hours, the fog will have disappeared and the bus is safe to reenter. The windows are opened, the bus receives its regular cleaning and is ready to return to service when needed.
More important is the health of the operator. If they need to quarantine, their manager will regularly check in on them. We’re thankful that the only operator to report a positive test has recovered and returned to work.
Our entire agency is united in working to keep our operators and riders safe. Learn more about what we’re doing at trimet.org/health
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