Bus Operators Tested, Quarantined After Positive COVID-19 Tests
(September 25, 2020) Columbia, SC – The Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (The COMET) announced that after testing, two operators who are employed by their subcontractor, RATP Dev USA, Inc., have tested positive for the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 and are in quarantine. Additionally, the vehicles were taken out of service and sanitized prior to being returned to the routes and any equipment used and the driver’s lounge was also disinfected.
The operators drove fixed routes 61, 11 and the 801 on the evening split and fixed routes 83L/84 and 401/45. Neither has worked since September 17. The operators are quarantined and will not return to work until negative test results are reported.
Although The COMET provides regular, voluntary, on-site testing to all employees, staff may also access testing from available outside resources. The recent test results were received from the outside resources.
“As the pandemic evolves, we will continue to be transparent to protect the community and to do our part to reduce cases,” said John Andoh, Executive Director/CEO of The COMET. “Our protocols are also evolving as we continue to explore newer and better ways to ensure that we protect our staff and our passengers so they can continue to travel safely.”
Safety precautions in effect, since the start of the pandemic, include daily sanitizing and enhanced disinfecting on its vehicles a minimum of four times a month, which includes fogging and steam cleaning. The COMET also continues to do enhanced cleaning of its facilities, including bus shelters and bus benches daily and provide hand sanitizer inside all buses.
Bus operators and staff are required to use the multiple temperature check stations, located in the administration building which houses the drivers’ lounge, upon reporting for their shift. Rear door boarding of all passengers, except for seniors or those with wheelchairs or strollers, was implemented months ago. This protocol, along with a distanced barrier greatly minimizes passenger contact with bus operators.
Enforcing masks or face coverings to ride The COMET buses or enter facilities went into effect in June. The buses operators are instructed to not move unless all passengers are complying. In addition to the mandatory mask policy, drivers were also given face shields to further protect themselves and their passengers. To prevent overcrowding, “tripper” vehicles follow popular routes so that passengers may ride comfortably. No standing is allowed.
In line with the focus on the health and safety of its drivers, passengers and employees, The COMET established a process to notify the public if a customer-facing employee tests positive for COVID-19 for the purpose of contact tracing to minimize spread. Any concerned passengers who were on the affected routes may access low to no-cost community testing resources by visiting https://scdhec.gov/infectious-diseases/viruses/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/covid-19-testing-locations for more information.