Access Johnson County Public Transit is a CTAA member providing rural transit services in Indiana. They recently reduced most of their services and have chosen to donate their cleaning supplies to a local hospital. We spoke with Becky Allen, CCTM, Director of Transportation, to learn how her system is handling these changes.
Question: How did you come to the decision to reduce most services?
Answer: First our ridership started dropping. Last Monday it was less than half of what we usually do. Each day was a little worse than the first. As part of management, we started meeting each day with daily updates of what was occurring in each department. The other big factor is that out of the 30 people in the transportation department, a lot of my guys were at risk due to age. Once we looked at those employees, it turned out that we had 16 that were 65 or older, and I had one driver whose wife just had a liver transplant, as well as one girl who has significant health issues. So we are paying 18 of them to stay home as of Monday March 23. Since the fixed and flexible fixed routes were, we felt, our biggest risk we shut those down. Our operating hours are still the same.
Additionally, some of the drivers were concerned about social distancing on the bus, so they roped off the front seats to keep people from coughing on them. I was reluctant at first, but decided if this made them feel safe then so be it. We also stopped driving minivans for the duration of this pandemic.
Question: What have you (or are going to) donate to the local hospital, and how did you come to decide this?
Answer: It was a lot of odds and ends. We donated hand sanitizer, bloodborne pathogens kits, flu kits, (both of those kits had masks in them) gloves, Lysol wipes, Lysol spray, alcohol wipes, and disposable blankets.
I am very blessed to live, work and play in Johnson County, Ind. This community comes together and addresses issues as they come up. First, it was the transportation issue back in 1995 headed by United Way of Johnson County (UWJC), then after the 2008 flood in Johnson County (UWJC), Aspire came together in 2015 (I think) on how to make Johnson County a better community and addressing issues such as recruiting, education, etc. In 2018 it was the homeless issue again headed by UWJC to name a few. So my CEO and our organization has been community minded and we always pitch in where needed for the last 29 years. When we got the email from Chamber of Commerce, I went straight to my CEO and asked if it was ok to donate some items we have plenty of and of course she said yes.
Question: Are there any other challenges you’re experiencing?
Answer: For right now it’s the anxiety of those that are still working worrying they are going to get this virus. In the future, we are most concerned with our employees. What is gonna happen after the initial 2 weeks? We want to pay them, because that is the right thing to do. We did receive an email from INDOT that we do have an option to continue to do that just have to do a policy etc. to do so. In a year or two from now, what is this gonna do to our transportation formulas for funding? This year we are only 5311, but in the coming years a portion of our county is going to be considered urban and then flip over to 5307.
This blog post is part of our latest CTR blog series highlighting the ways in which CTAA members are managing operations under COVID-19. Want to share your COVID-19 experiences with us? Email Taylor Klocke (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) and its members believe that mobility is a basic human right. From work and education to life-sustaining health care and human services programs to shopping and visiting with family and friends, mobility directly impacts quality of life.