ANN ARBOR, MI – As businesses and major institutions prepare to re-open, the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (TheRide) asks leaders and decision-makers to help prevent rush-hour crowding this fall, and consider the safety of their workers and students during the commute as well as on-site.
TheRide is increasing bus service as the community re-opens. However, maintaining social distancing during crowded rush-hours will be challenging. Before the pandemic, transportation infrastructure was often stretched to capacity during peak commute times. Trying to accommodate a return to a pre-pandemic rush-hour while also maintaining social distancing could push buses, roads and parking far beyond capacity - leading to more gridlock and crowds. This could be especially challenging as students return in the fall.
Just as “flattening the curve” helped prevent medical services from being overwhelmed, TheRide is asking for everyone’s help to flatten the rush-hour curve. By spreading out rush-hour travel, the bus service and transportation network in general will be less strained and less crowded. This also helps ensure safer travel for transit riders who must use the bus for essential trips. To help us flatten the rush-hour curve TheRide requests the community, businesses and educational institutions consider the following steps when re-opening:
- Encourage employees and students to continue to telecommute or work from home as much as possible.
- When possible, stagger work and class schedules so people are not arriving and leaving at the same time.
- Schedule start times outside typical rush-hours, especially outside 6:00 a.m. -9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. -6:00 p.m.
- Consider rotating staff/students on alternate days.
- Encourage walking and biking. Carpools and vanpools can also help. Businesses can contact the getDowntown program about resources for alternative commuting options.
- Supply employees and students with PPE for the commute, such as masks and hand sanitizer.
“Safety has always been our number one priority and we are committed to doing our part in this pandemic,” said Matt Carpenter, CEO at TheRide. “As more businesses and schools reopen, we know more people will need to use our service. We are asking for the community’s support in preventing gridlock and crowding during the commute. We have a few months to get ready for fall and the return of students, so let’s coordinate as best we can.”
Together, we can reduce the spread of COVID-19 as businesses and schools reopen. TheRide has instituted many preventive measures to keep employees and riders safe, including:
- Enhanced cleaning of high-touch areas on buses, shelters and at transit facilities using protocols recommended by the CDC
- Signs designating physical distancing on each bus, on benches, and at shelters and transit centers
- Riders if able, are instructed to enter and exit using the rear door
- Pandemic plexiglass barrier to separate customers from the driver
- Drivers are required to wear masks and are provided face shields and gloves
- Providing hand sanitation supplies at transit centers and on buses for riders
- The Blake and Ypsilanti Transit Centers, and TheRide’s front desk at 2700 S. Industrial are temporarily closed
- Suspended collection of fares until safety measures are in place
“We’ve worked closely with TheRide to ensure the public’s safety when using public transportation. We are in support of the guidelines they have laid out should you need to use their service. We urge the public and local businesses to be aware of the risks of crowded spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic and encourage those that must travel to wear face coverings, and to follow guidelines for reopening at https://www.washtenaw.org/3122/Guidance-for-Businesses,” Jimena Loveluck, MSW, Health Officer from the Washtenaw County Health Department said.
For more information regarding TheRide’s preventive measures for COVID-19, visit TheRide.org/coronavirus. The latest information on TheRide’s routes, schedules and detours is available by calling Route Information at (734) 996-0400 and on TheRide.org. Businesses seeking more assistance in helping their employees commute to work should contact TheRide at firstname.lastname@example.org.