EMBARK, Oklahoma City’s public transit system, is still running normal bus and streetcar routes even though a state of emergency has been declared for the City to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While some people in the city are working from home after business have been closed or forced to limit hours, many more still have to travel to work outside of the house and rely on public transportation to get to work.
With that reality, EMBARK has made changes to protect the health of its riders and help people succeed at social distancing as advised by the CDC.
Ready for changes
“EMBARK began preparing for this possibility in late February,” said Michael Scoggins, Public Information Officer for EMBARK.
“Because of early action, we can sustain this level of cleaning for a few months on what we have in stock. Employee communications started in early March with reminders about healthy hygiene habits,” Scroggins said.
“Managers are communicating daily with all staff, especially front-line employees about best practices interacting with the public and staying safe. We are adapting as conditions change. Employees also have access to supplies (like gloves and sanitizer) to aid in protection and with routine disinfecting vehicles, facilities, and workspaces.”
Keeping things clean
EMBARK has taken many steps to ensure the cleanliness of the public transportation system including cleaning high-touch areas of the transportation center multiple times a day, and disinfecting buses and streetcars daily.
Staff of the Bike Share program are disinfecting bicycles every other day, while Oklahoma River Cruises disinfect their ferry prior to each departure.
Mobility Management Services are also cleaned daily and Congregate meal shuttles will continue to run routes as long as their partner agencies remain open.
Updated rider info
EMBARK is asking for people using their services to practice social distancing, keeping at least 3 feet between you and other passengers, and for people who are sick to stay home.
Wash your hands frequently and take the same precautions that the CDC has recommended like not touching your face, and cover your sneezes or coughs with a tissue that you discard afterward.
Token Transit is a free app passengers can use to purchase fares from a smartphone phone. Passengers need only to show their phone to the driver when boarding. Passengers can still pay fares as usual if they do not have access to the app.
Exit the bus at the rear so that people can enter through the front door and everything will keep going smoothly and help preserve distancing practices.
“Currently, we have an average of 16 riders per service hour. That’s an average. Under normal conditions, there are a few times during the day buses may reach a 50-person threshold,” said Scroggins.
But now, spacing to limit transmission of the disease means that total capacity has decreased.
“Route supervisors and operators are monitoring capacity to ensure the required spacing of three feet while on transit vehicles. This means buses that are at the new capacity will not stop unless an onboard stop request is made. Customers should expect longer wait times during this crisis.”
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