Ben Franklin Transit Safety Initiatives Surrounding the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

March 17, 2020 11:00 PM

Update: March 17, 2020

Ben Franklin Transit (BFT) continues to keep up to date on the latest developments in the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In response to the ever-changing situation, BFT is taking additional measures to protect the health and safety of our employees and our community.

BFT continues to work around the clock to support the Tri-Cities region and slow the spread of COVID-19. Today, BFT General Manager Gloria Boyce, with support from the BFT Board of Directors, advised her team to implement two new measures to strike an appropriate balance of protection for BFT’s front-line employees and their families, our customers, and the surrounding community.

Effective March 18, 2020, in addition to precautions that began last week, Ben Franklin Transit will take the following new measures:

  1. Discontinue fare collection for bus, Dial-A-Ride, and General Demand services until April 11, 2020. This date will be reviewed as it gets closer to determine whether an extension is prudent. Customers with March passes will be able to use them through the end of April, and April passes will not be available for purchase until the date for return to normal fare collection is confirmed.
  2. Close the front doors of the bus. Riders will enter and exit the buses using the rear entrance only to maintain proper social distancing for drivers. Once onboard, riders are asked to maintain a six-foot distance between themselves and the driver and stagger seating to maintain that same distance from other passengers. PLEASE NOTE: Customers who require ramp assistance to board will be notified by the driver that another vehicle will be immediately dispatched to their location for pickup.

Although there will be no charge for the services noted during this unprecedented time, we ask that the public please strongly consider limiting non-essential trips by any method of transportation to minimize contact with others.

We will continue to provide regular service levels to our community at this time and will notify customers via social media, our website, and other means as appropriate if there are any other changes in service. For the most up-to-date bus schedules we recommend that riders download and use the Transit app, or check MyRide.BFT.org.

To protect our passengers and drivers, BFT will continue daily disinfection procedures in all our vehicles and facilities. Our top priorities are to continue service and to keep our employees and customers healthy and safe. We appreciate the public working with us to make this possible. 

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 most effective way to prevent the spread of disease are things we can all do ourselves. We strongly encourage everyone to follow these recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

If you're experiencing symptoms and have traveled to areas of concern (or have been in contact with someone who has), call ahead to your health-care provider before you go in in person. Arrange for special transportation to and from your medical appointment. Do not use public transportation.

BFT will continue to monitor COVID-19-related developments and take appropriate action using guidance from public health authorities.

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Posted: March 13, 2020

We plan to provide updates regularly on measures we’re taking to combat the spread of COVID-19

BFT is continuing to take preventive measures for the protection of our staff and community, and closely following the guidance of local and state health authorities.

Current measures include:
- Daily sanitation of all buses and Dial-A-Ride vehicles using a hospital grade disinfectant
- Sanitation of all Vanpool vans before returning them to service
- Disinfection of high touch surfaces in our facilities
- Closure of public restrooms at Three Rivers Transit Center (lobby remains open at this time)
- Frequent communications to BFT staff
- Public posts like this one!

We also have hand sanitizer dispensers on order for all buses (they’re already on all Dial-A-Rides), and will install them the moment they arrive. We’re working hard to evolve our efforts as the situation and related prevention guidance changes.

We are urging YOU to also help protect yourself and others. Please stay home if you’re sick or feeling under the weather! This will significantly reduce the potential spread of the virus. Wash your hands with soap and water as often as possible and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol concentration in between washings or when soap and water aren’t available.


We must all do our part to stop the spread of this virus and keep our community safe – we’re in it together! Thank you!

 

Posted: March 4, 2020

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new virus strain spreading from person-to-person in China and other countries, including the United States.

How does COVID-19 spread?

Health experts are still learning the details. Currently, it is thought to spread:

  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes
  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet).
  • It may be possible that a person can become infected by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, but this is not the main way the virus spreads.

What is Ben Franklin Transit doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

BFT vehicles are cleaned DAILY with a hospital grade disinfectant, and sanitizer dispensers will soon be installed on all buses (already on our Dial-A-Ride vehicles).

How can I protect myself from COVID-19?

  • It is critical to follow the precautions being emphasized by health authorities. Among the most important is staying home and avoiding public places if you experience symptoms.
  • Remember to cover your mouth/nose when coughing and sneezing.
  • Avoid close contact with people who appear to be sick. We know it can be difficult on the bus, but remember it’s not rude to get up and move if you need to.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you do not have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol concentration.

Together we can help control the spread of this and other viruses.  

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