As reports of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) began to circulate, DTPW immediately implemented new measures in order to keep riders and operators safe. Cleaning schedules were increased, and sanitizing efforts were in place before even the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020.
As supplies became available, DTPW immediately began distributing personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks and gloves, to operations, maintenance and construction employees, and continued increasing cleaning and disinfecting efforts.
DTPW continues to run and provide an essential service for those essential workers and residents who rely on public transit to serve the community.
“Now is the time for everyone in our community to work together toward a common goal: to stop the spread of COVID-19 and start moving to a New Normal,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “My administration and I — with guidance from the Florida Department of Health, the CDC and medical experts at Jackson Health System, U-Health and the medical schools at the University of Miami and Florida International University — have been dedicating our full time and resources to battling this pandemic and keeping our community safe. Our priority remains the safety of everyone in Miami-Dade County, including transit operators. We need to keep our community moving — that has always been clear — and we will continue to do so safely."
As the spread of COVID-19 became an imminent threat, DTPW Director Alice N. Bravo directed employees over the age of 65 or with underlying medical conditions to stay at home with pay or work from home. Every decision made and new measures implemented have been done with the safety of transit operators, employees and riders in mind.
“The safety of our operators and riders has always been our number one priority both as a department and for myself as director,” said Alice N. Bravo, P.E., DTPW Director. “Since this global pandemic began, we amped up our safety measures, including cleaning of vehicles and implementing service changes, matching or exceeding what other metro areas have done. It’s unfortunate that the Transport Workers Union appears to be spending workers’ dues on a publicity stunt that asks for more equipment when this and many other safety measures were implemented weeks ago.”
As ridership decreased due to emergency orders and social distancing measures, the Department started to ask riders to use public transit for essential trips only and adjusted service. Eventually, low ridership routes were temporarily suspended as well as hours of operations adjusted so that social distancing could be provided with existing resources.
Miami-Dade Transit was among the first agencies in the nation to suspend fares and implement rear door boardings on Metrobuses. This was done to limit unnecessary interactions with operators and prevent the spreading of germs via the fareboxes and faregates, which is a high contact surface.
DTPW has had hand sanitizer units at all Metrorail and Metromover stations for nearly five years. Since March, the vendor has increased the maintenance on these units and refilled more frequently. Hand sanitizer units were also installed on board the entire Metromover fleet in early March, followed by the Metrorail fleet in April. Hand sanitizer pumps are also being installed throughout the Metrobus fleet.
“It’s no easy task to manage and operate a transit department like Miami-Dade’s,” said Derrick Gordon, Assistant Director over Metrobus Operations. “Director Bravo has remained steadfast in keeping all of her employees safe during this unprecedented state of emergency, while also providing an essential service to the community. She has ensured no stone is left unturned and that we take and have taken all viable steps to keep everyone safe. Safety has always been our number one priority.”
The actions taken to ensure the safety of transit operators, employees, and riders include:
- Increased cleaning schedules for all vehicles, which are also being disinfected several times a day
- Distributed hand sanitizer bottles to operators
- Distributed gloves and wipes to operators
- Distributed surgical masks, KN95 masks and plastic face shields to operators
- Mandated face coverings for riders, violators are subject to removal from transit system
- Employees over 65 or with underlying medical conditions were offered to stay at home with pay or work from home
- Adjusted service, schedules, and hours of operations for Metrobus, Metrorail, and Metromover
- Suspended fares for all Miami-Dade Transit services, including parking fees
- Implemented rear door boarding
- Purchased additional tables and rented tents for bus maintenance garages to enable social distancing between employees
- Limited bus capacity to 16 passengers on 40ft buses and 36 passengers on 60ft buses
- Implemented standby buses to assist with overcrowding of routes
- Temporarily discontinued overnight routes due to low ridership and replaced with Go Nightly Service
- Modified Paratransit or Special Transportation Service (STS) to provide single rider trips only
- Blocked seats closer to operator’s cabin to ensure social distancing
- Began temperature checks for all employees and visitors at all garages and facilities
Visit miamidade.gov/coronavirus for the latest in DTPW services during the COVID-19 pandemic.