The coronavirus situation continues to quickly evolve in our community according to Public Health, and Metro is responding.
At the direction of King County Executive Constantine, Metro will upgrade its protocols to help reduce the risk of exposure and will activate its Department Operations Center (DOC).
In addition to the existing cleaning regimen, Metro is increasing the frequency of cleaning of “high-touch” areas such as buttons, handholds, pull cords, rails, and stanchions. This step will help protect passengers as we combat COVID-19.
Below is a Q&A that reflects questions we’ve received from community members, customers, and the media. We expect developments to continue and will notify you as information becomes available.
We are asking everyone to take personal health preparedness steps. Especially in public, please do not touch your face to avoid picking up the virus, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, and cover your coughs and sneezes. If you are experiencing symptoms of the virus but are in stable condition, please stay home or telework wherever possible. Visit kingcounty.gov/covid for up-to-date information, guidance, and resources to help keep our communities safe and healthy.
What would it take to stop bus service or reduce bus service?
Answer: At this time, transit service will continue to operate as scheduled. We rely on guidance from Public Health – Seattle & King County (“Public Health”) to determine whether service would be adjusted.
For people who have to ride the bus or use transit, are there additional precautions they should take on top of the recommendations from Public Health and the Washington State Department of Health’s (DOH)?
DOH’s and Public Health’s recommendations for people who are in public apply to riding transit as well. Especially in public, please do not touch your face to avoid picking up the virus, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, and cover your coughs and sneezes. If you are experiencing symptoms of the virus but are in stable condition, please stay home or telework wherever possible.
Are there any plans to clean buses more frequently and what would that look like?
Answer: Given the current health circumstances, we are moving to clean more often and are assessing what it would take to increase the pace of cleaning buses, knowing that is only part of the equation. Buttons, handholds, pull cords, rails, and stanchions can be disinfected by our crews, but can become dirty again when touched by passengers. We haven’t yet identified nor estimated the funds necessary to increase the pace of cleaning on buses.
What happens to a bus when it is removed to be thoroughly disinfected? What is the criteria for removing/deep cleaning a bus?
Answer: Concerns from the public or a driver or Metro staff can prompt an evaluation of the cleanliness and sanitation of a bus, which keeps the customer at the forefront of our concerns. An unsanitary hygiene situation can require a thorough disinfecting.
Are there plans in place to backfill in case bus drivers get sick?
Answer: Experts at Public Health are guiding our actions. Metro has a limited number of drivers available for filling trips due to illnesses and vacations. In the event of drivers calling in sick to care for themselves or family members, our back-up board operators and off-duty drivers would be the first place to turn to continue to provide service. If a specific trip is canceled due to no available operator, riders would board the next trip in the schedule.
What is being done to protect bus drivers? Why did I see a bus driver wearing a mask?
Answer: Although our guidance from Public Health does not state that masks or gloves are necessary, operators are permitted to wear masks that do not block their vision. We’re not in a position to state whether a mask or respirator is of any health benefit to operators. Bus drivers also rely on members of the public to follow public health direction to not travel when sick, to wash hands frequently and thoroughly, and to cover coughs and sneezes.
Visit kingcounty.gov/covid for up-to-date information, guidance, and resources to help keep our communities safe and healthy.