(RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK - APRIL 2, 2020) As a partner of the Durham County Emergency Management, GoTriangle mobilized this week to transport people sheltering at Urban Ministries of Durham to an area hotel to help with social-distancing efforts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re more than a bus company,” says Pat Stephens, GoTriangle’s director of Transit Operations. “We’re there when the community needs us as well during emergencies.”
GoTriangle has been participating in daily calls with local emergency management agencies during the coronavirus crisis, and Stephens offered buses and operators after he found Urban Ministries, a nonprofit that provides food, shelter and other services, needed some assistance.
“We were asked if there was any way we could provide a couple of buses to transport people from Urban Ministries to hotels as they were trying to ensure social distancing of people at Urban Ministries,” Stephens says. “So we provided two buses, and our operators went out and they worked with folks from Urban Ministries and others to transport the folks by bus and some of their personal belongings over to a hotel.”
GoTriangle partnered with Durham County Emergency Management to offer evacuation and supply-delivery assistance during Hurricane Florence in 2018.
“During times like this of crisis, we work with local emergency management agencies to provide support where we need to,” Stephens says. “Just like in hurricanes, natural disasters, we’re there to help.”
The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic means that GoTriangle is participating in crisis management every day, Stephens points out. Providing transportation during the pandemic is an essential public service, and GoTriangle’s bus operators, supervisors and maintenance team are committed to maintaining access for those with jobs at hospitals, senior living facilities, grocery stores, take-out restaurants, gas stations and other locations critical to sustaining society and keeping the public safe. The agency is also transporting residents with no other transportation alternatives to get essential groceries and medicines, too.
“I just can’t say enough about my team and how they have stepped up and exceeded every expectation I could have had to help GoTriangle continue to be a public transit agency that our community can rely on, especially in a crisis,” Stephens says. “I hope people understand that they have families, too, and anxieties and fears, yet they’re here doing their essential jobs so that other essential things can keep getting done, too.”
Since early March, GoTriangle has been employing extra precautions to help keep its bus operators and customers safe, sanitizing all rails, seats and other high-touch areas on buses with commercial disinfectants as part of the daily cleaning process. Many GoTriangle buses are cleaned twice a day between the morning and evening peak-hour runs.
On March 17, GoTriangle began using a fogger that administers disinfectant throughout the buses. The agency routinely has hand sanitizer available on each bus as well.
Stay up to date at bit.ly/gotrianglecovid19.