Rural Transit Enterprises Coordinated (RTEC) is a CTAA member providing rural transit services in Kentucky. They recently moved the majority of their staff, including their call center, to telework status. We spoke with Shirley Cummins, Executive Director, to learn how her system was able to make these changes.
Question: What precautionary steps have you taken in light of the virus?
Answer: RTEC is taking aggressive steps to safeguard the health and safety of our customers, staff and communities while attempting to continue the delivery of important services. During the initial stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, and at the advice of the CDC and Transit Industry Leaders, RTEC further developed a Contagious Virus Response Plan (CVRP) as an addendum to our existing Transit Agency Safety Plan. RTEC is maintaining our infectious disease control standards, increasing sanitizing focus on high touch areas, advising all staff and employees to practice social distancing. All trips are being performed by one-on-one transportation, unless an escort accompanies a client. Office staff is watching for updates from the Kentucky Governor, Department of Medicaid Services, KYTC/OTD, and the FTA to modify the operations of RTEC to accommodate recommendations and orders.
RTEC is postponing in-person, non-essential events and meetings that are open to the general public, whether on or off site until after March 31, 2020. Will evaluate on or before March 31, 2020 for further changes. RTEC’s main lobby is closed to walk-in traffic as of Monday, March 16, 2020. RTEC also has limit county-to-county travel of its drivers and employees whenever possible. Vehicle Maintenance may be scheduled at local service shops. Other measures may be taken to help mitigate risk of our vulnerable population groups.
Question: How was your team able to go almost completely remote, particularly the call center?
Answer: RTEC was looking into software to help office staff and the call center to work remotely from home the week of March 16, 2020. On Friday March 20, 2020, RTEC purchased TeamViewer Software to have the Call Center CSR’s work from home. We have half of the call center working in the office, while the other half are working from home, and vice versa on the opposite days. Office staff is also working remotely from home when they can, and half-staff in the office.
Question: What was the moment when you realized RTEC staff needed to begin working from home?
Answer: RTEC management staff realized that we needed to have most of our office staff to work from home when the Kentucky State Governor, Gov. Beshear announced public-facing businesses should close on March 18, 2020. That is when RTEC started searching for remote software for our call center and staff. When Governor Beshear announced call centers to either close or work from home as of Monday, March 23, 2020, that is when we took action to buy the software and have our staff and call center to work from home.
Question: Are there any other challenges you’re experiencing?
Answer: For the most part, RTEC has not experienced many challenges. The number one challenge that we are facing is not being able to find enough PPE/disinfectant that we are accustomed to for our drivers and buses. We have been forced to seek alternate sources and improvise by making our own disinfectant solutions w/ bleach. In addition, we are experiencing challenges in operations, with potential of exposure of our drivers and other clients to persons that are positive for the virus and/or having symptoms. We are using Infectious Disease Control, as we always have, to mitigate risk.
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.