Photo by PoPville flickr user Bill Herndon
“Metro and its Pandemic Task Force continue to work around the clock to support the region and slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Today, Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld directed his team to implement several new measures to strike an appropriate balance for Metro’s workforce and their families, our customers, and the region as a whole.
As of 2 p.m., Friday, March 13, Metro has further escalated its response to Phase 3 of its Pandemic Flu Plan. Phase 3 is the highest level of response and will include all subsequent mitigation steps required during the public health emergency. Metro expects to be at Phase 3 until further notice. Phase 4 is the “recovery phase” of the plan that involves Metro’s return to normal operations after the situation is under control.
Consistent with action taken by regional jurisdictions, Metro is implementing mandatory telework for administrative employees, combined with remote work assignments for selected employees whose job functions are not essential to operate trains and buses. This action is taken to maximize social distancing, a required mitigation to slow the spread of the disease. Members of Metro’s Pandemic Task Force are equipped with the latest technology tools to allow for full collaboration over secure video conferencing platforms.
To help protect employees and customers, and recognizing that many of Metro’s frontline employees are faced with tough choices as they balance work with their family priorities, including caring for children who are home from area schools, Metro is reducing service beginning Monday, as follows:
- Monday-Friday: Trains will operate every 12 minutes on each line throughout the day
- The rail system will maintain normal hours, opening at 5 a.m. and closing at 11:30 p.m.
- Saturday: Trains will operate every 12 minutes on each line, with service from 7 a.m. until 1 a.m. (normal Saturday service).
- Sunday: Trains will operate every 15 minutes on each line, with service from 8 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. (normal Sunday service).
- On weekdays, bus service will operate on a Saturday Supplemental schedule. Weekend bus schedules are unchanged.
IF YOU ARE NOT FEELING WELL, DO NOT TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. Call your healthcare provider before you leave your home and follow their guidance.
The service reduction also allows for additional disinfecting of railcars and buses, including the use of electrostatic fogging on a weekly basis across Metro’s fleet of 1,200 railcars and 1,500 buses. The electrostatic process addresses inaccessible surfaces in the vehicle, such as air ducts and compartments.
Due to the service adjustment, please note that Metro’s Rush Hour Promise has been suspended until further notice (i.e. until regular service levels are restored).
MetroAccess service will continue to operate during the same hours as rail and bus services. Metro continues to emphasize that customers must not use MetroAccess to travel to healthcare appointments if they are showing signs of illness for the safety of our employees and other passengers. If you are ill, call your healthcare provider and make transportation arrangements that do not involve public transportation. In addition, the MetroAccess Eligibility Center is closed until further notice.
Further, Metro’s Pandemic Task Force is taking unprecedented steps to protect the health of our most essential employees who work in the Rail Operations Control Center, including a ban on visitors and non-essential personnel, and creating physical separation between ROCC employee teams who will now run the rail system from two different locations to mitigate risk. Operation of the rail system will alternate between two control centers, allowing downtime for disinfecting keyboards, headsets, microphones, screens and other critical equipment in the control center.
Visitors are not permitted at Metro Headquarters (Jackson Graham Building) or any other administrative site, and public meetings at Metro HQ have been suspended, including the Riders’ Advisory Council and the Accessibility Advisory Committee. Metro’s Board of Directors will announce plans for upcoming meetings in the coming days, with an emphasis on public health and welfare.
Metro will continue to be guided by the advice of public health authorities and its Pandemic Flu Plan, which was activated 44 days ago at the first signs of a potential pandemic. The early activation allowed Metro to convene its Pandemic Task Force and take immediate action to stockpile critical items, such as hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, and hospital-grade disinfectant. The Task Force is led by Metro’s Chief Safety Officer, with support from Metro’s Chief Medical Officer and key senior officials from across the Authority.”