GRTC Communications with ATU Local 1220:
GRTC is closely monitoring updates on the COVID-19 virus spread in Virginia so that we may continue to take reasonable precautions to address the risk. The well-being of our staff and passengers is paramount. GRTC, like transit systems across the country, has been in communication with the FTA about our actions, as well as with our local partners. GRTC has been providing updates to Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT). GRTC is also monitoring other transit systems for their responses and any enhanced protocols.
GRTC already has procedures in place to prevent the spread of diseases on buses by frequent cleaning.
Personal trash bags are being installed on buses for passengers to use. We encourage passengers to take a bag, dispose of tissues and other trash in these bags, and take your trash bag with you when you exit the bus. Many stops have trash cans where you can deposit your trash.
Passengers continue to see/hear regular public service announcements about helping us prevent the spread of germs (cover your cough, use tissues, etc.). Passengers should follow recommended guidelines for proper hygiene (CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html).
If a passenger on the bus is in need of immediate medical assistance, the Operator will contact Radio to request emergency services. If a passenger is ill with bodily fluids expelled on the bus, the bus is immediately pulled out of service for cleaning. On-board passengers are transferred to a clean replacement bus to continue their trip.
For RideFinders clients, a reminder that the Emergency Ride Home (ERH) program is not available for building closures/evacuations, weekend usage or during inclement weather.
The most important action the public can take is to stay updated and follow recommended guidelines from official sources:
GRTC is committed to the safety, health, and financial well-being of its staff. At our headquarters, steps have already been taken. Cleaning of high-touch surfaces has increased during our routine daily cleaning of the facility. Hand sanitizer stations are available throughout the property. Maintenance and cleaning staff already use protective gloves, and Operators may also request protective gloves. Face masks are being distributed to staff first, then masks will be available for passengers needing Operator assistance while riding. A local partnership enabled GRTC to purchase hand sanitizer in bulk for our frontline employees.
At RideFinders, cleaning frequency was also increased, including of high-touch surfaces. Front desk staff have protective gloves.
Our frontline staff, including Operators, Supervisors, Cleaners and Mechanics, are taking every reasonable precaution to protect themselves and each other while serving the public. GRTC maintains a high level of confidence in the safety of our service for our staff and riders.
Safety Actions for Employees by Date:
Already in-place before COVID-19:
1: Tip of the Week provides information about the COVID-19 spread and prevention practices.
6: Procurement begins efforts to purchase hand sanitizer for all vehicles. (This plan evolves through the month, ending up with the distillery and individual bottle solution.)
10: GRTC’s COVID-19 webpage launches with daily updates. This kicks off public communication efforts.
12: Reminder about optional protective gloves shared with Operators (gloves available upon request at Dispatch or from a field Supervisor). Inventory continually replenished.
13: 9AM Directors’ Meeting to immediately address emerging conditions and accelerate protective measures
13: Begin daily texts with safety messages and employee notices.
13: All work travel canceled until further notice to minimize risk of exposure. Staff traveling for approved time off should report to HR prior to returning to work.
13: Personal trash bags begin being installed on buses to help with disposal of unsanitary items.
13: Planning & Scheduling begin drafting service updates in response to projected changes in ridership during the emergency.
13: Management stated commitment to maintain 100% employment for as long as possible
16: Admin staff begin transitioning to telework to minimize unnecessary exposure to front line staff in building. Admin building closes to public. Admin cleaning increased with enhanced focus on high-touch places (door handles, buttons, railings, etc).
16: All internal monitors display exclusively COVID-19 information.
16: Implemented daily weekday 9AM COVID-19 tele-meetings for leadership staff and Union leadership.
17: Began providing paid quarantine to staff with possible exposure or family exposure to COVID or with COVID-like symptoms
17: Additional trash can placed at bus lot door.
17: Cleaning milestone – 50% of fleet (high-touch surfaces) cleaned daily.
19: Discontinue fare collection and limit front-door access to only passengers needing Operator assistance.
19: Placed signs and physical separation for more than six feet distancing between passenger areas and operators.
23: Additional trash can placed at front door.
23: Cleaning milestone – 80% of fleet (high-touch surfaces) cleaned daily.
24: Unaccompanied minors asked not to ride.
26: Cleaning milestone – 90% of fleet (high-touch surfaces) cleaned daily.
26: New PSA announcement deploys on buses asking customers to only ride for essential trips, follow CDC public health guidelines, enter/exit through rear doors.
27: Porta Potties deployed.
30: Hand sanitizer replenished with locally produced sanitizer from distillery.
30: Confirmed availability of paratransit vans and operators for use on express and low passenger runs
1: Hand sanitizer stations deployed in high-traffic areas.
1: GRTC begins gathering cloth face masks to make available to front line staff. Ongoing.
3: Personal 4oz bottles for hand sanitizer distributed to staff. Ongoing.
4: Received notice of GRTC’s only known COVID Positive staff member and took immediate precautionary measures
5: Cleaning milestone – 100% of fleet (high-touch surfaces) cleaned daily.
6: PR Code “Essential Trips Only” deploys on fleet.
8: Express resources redeployed to high-ridership local routes to help promote physical distancing while riding.
17: GRTC gathers enough cloth face masks for all staff to have two, if they choose. Ongoing.
23: Limited supply of cloth face masks available on buses for customers.
26: Service updates take effect to redistribute transportation resources from low-ridership routes to high-ridership local routes to further help promote physical distancing while riding.
28: Additional COVID-19 testing site available for staff. This location is free for employees to use with an appointment.
28: Physical/social distance notices posted at HQ reminding employees to space 6FT apart at work. Floor markings added at both Fixed Route and CARE Dispatch and check-in areas for visual guidance.
29: GRTC received notice of first Operator testing positive for COVID-19 (later determined to be a false-positive) and took immediate precautionary measures, including encouraging all Operators to be tested for free using GRTC's site in Henrico County.
1: GRTC employees can be tested at area BetterMed sites for free. Any employee tested previously can be reimbursed the co-pay. Ongoing testing of staff continues.
1: GRTC procures 400 face shields for all Operators. Delivery May 11.
7: GRTC distributes aerosol cans of Steriphene disinfectant and deodorant for each Operator to spray in vehicles while in service.
8: GRTC begins installing on-vehicle hand sanitizer dispensers on all buses and CARE vans. Complete May 18.
11: OBS Janitorial begins additional cleaning of buses.
21: Additional hand sanitizer (wall mounted) dispensers installed throughout GRTC HQ. (There is one on every floor at the elevators, one by the fire doors, two in the lobby, one in every office suite, training room, customer service, at dispatch by clock-in, in the Board Room, 2nd floor conference room and in the Maintenance department.)
29: Executive Order 63 takes effect, requiring face masks/coverings on public transit.
1: On-site, voluntary, free COVID-19 testing event for staff. POSTPONED to June 8.
8: On-site, voluntary, free COVID-19 testing event for staff.
1st Case: Reported April 6. Employee has recovered and is back at work.
False 2nd Case: Reported April 29, but later determined on May 6 with secondary testing to be a false-positive. Employee, a bus Operator, was cleared by the Virginia Department of Health and is back at work.
Actual 2nd Case: Initial results reported to GRTC on May 3 as an asymptomatic positive test. Secondary test results received on May 6 confirmed the positive result. Employee was on paid sick leave starting on the initial test date of May 2 and remains on paid sick leave. Employee is a recent hire and has not been involved in public bus service. Employee remains asymptomatic and on leave.
3rd Case: Initial results reported to GRTC on May 2 as negative test. The GRTC employee, a bus Operator, exhibited asthma symptoms on May 7, was relieved from duty to receive medical attention, was re-tested and was reported positive for COVID-19. Employee was treated in a local hospital due to complications from underlying health conditions but is now in recovery.
4th Case: Initial results reported May 6 as an asymptomatic positive test. The employee, a bus Operator, has been on paid sick leave since May 6. Secondary test results were received the afternoon of May 8 and confirmed the positive results. The employee was treated overnight at a local hospital and released. The employee is in recovery.
5th Case: Potential contact with 3rd Case noted May 7. The employee, a bus Operator, has been on paid sick leave since May 8, was tested, and confirmed positive for COVID-19 on May 13. The employee is in recovery.
6th Case: The employee, a bus Operator, was tested on Sunday, May 24 after experiencing mild symptoms starting on Saturday, May 23. The positive test result was returned on Tuesday, May 26. The employee has not been at work since Monday, May 18 and is not suspected to have contracted COVID-19 while on duty. Employee currently has mild symptoms and is quarantined at home.
7th Case: Confirmed May 27. Case 7 is a part-time bus Operator who has not been at work since May 20. Case 7 is currently quarantined.
8th Case: Confirmed May 30. The employee, a bus Operator, was traced by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) as a likely connection to Case 7. The last time the Operator was on duty was May 27. All identified likely contacts with Cases 7 and 8 are being contacted, quarantined, and tested in accordance with guidance from VDH. Case 8 is currently quarantined.
9th Case: Confirmed June 1. The employee, a bus Operator, is likely connected to Case 6. The last time the Operator was on duty was May 27. Case 9 was tested on May 28 and received results June 1. Case 9 is currently quarantined.
10th Case: Confirmed June 3. The employee, a bus Operator, is not believed to be connected to any previous staff cases. The last time Case 10 was on duty was May 27; testing occurred on May 30. Case 10 is currently quarantined with mild symptoms.
11th Case: Confirmed June 4. The employee, a bus Operator, is not believed to be connected to any previous staff cases. The last time Case 11 was on duty was June 1; testing occurred on June 2. Case 11 is currently quarantined with mild symptoms.