Every day, and especially amid COVID-19, Metro relies on the knowledge and recommendations of employees across our agency. Open communication is vital to our on-going commitment to improve operations, to better serve our customers, and to strengthen safety practices.
In recent weeks, Metro quickly took a number of steps in response to COVID-19—all driven by safety and guided by the expertise of Public Health – Seattle & King County.
- From the beginning of this pandemic, we strongly recommended that employees who are high-risk stay home to protect their health. We also strengthened our paid leave policies, including when federal leave became available.
- We increased the frequency of sanitizing and deep cleaning of vehicles and facilities (daily for vehicles and twice a day for high-touch areas at facilities), and continue to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to our drivers and other frontline employees.
- We minimized driver-to-passenger interaction by directing riders to board at rear doors if they are able, eliminating fares, and installing safety straps.
- We assembled a cleaning task force dedicated to rapid response and continuous improvement.
- And, we promote social distancing at bases and worksites, and onboard our vehicles and vessels—with work underway to expand these efforts.
The challenges of the current moment mean our frontline employees—custodial workers, electricians, engineers, mechanics, operators, water taxi crews, and many others—are keeping our county going. While many in our community are staying home, frontline transit employees move essential workers, medical personnel, and passengers who rely on Metro for access to food, medicine, and other necessities. During normal times, our frontline employees deserve our heartfelt gratitude for the positive contributions they make in our community. During this crisis, they need extra support and protection, and we are diligently working to address the changing environment to keep our employees and customers healthy and safe.
We are constantly exploring how safety can be further advanced—through equipment, policies, and practices. While our operators have been given the choice to wear their own masks from the beginning, we will now be providing them with masks in accordance with the CDC’s newer recommendations.
In a challenging procurement environment that affects our healthcare workers as well as providers of other essential services such as transit, Metro aims to distribute masks to our operators and frontline employees starting this week. Contingent upon the supply chain, Metro intends to provide each frontline employee, including operators, with two reusable cloth masks. This ensures they will have one mask to wear and an additional mask to clean and dry between shifts. Employees working with chemicals and cleaning supplies, such as in our Vehicle Maintenance department, will continue to receive personal protective equipment prescribed for the given task. Metro is providing guidance to ensure employees are using masks and other PPE correctly and benefiting from the full protection they provide.
We’re also making additional efforts to ensure ongoing, convenient access to comfort station facilities—particularly for operators but also for other frontline employees—since so many places previously relied upon have closed due to the pandemic.
In cases where there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workplace, we inform other employees who have been in close contact. This protects the health of our colleagues and keeps them informed, and follows the evolving guidance of public health officials. Close contact is defined by Public Health – Seattle & King County as being within six feet of someone for 10 minutes or longer.
As previously shared, Metro will not publicly announce new positive diagnoses in workplaces since that could lead to individuals being identified and could cause other spaces to be mistakenly seen as being without risk. Additionally, if employees fear their privacy will be compromised, they may not seek needed medical care, which hinders the ability of public health officials to respond. We can’t emphasize enough that, at this point, we all have to assume there is a risk of exposure in any public space and act accordingly.
We are working in concert with the Executive, other King County departments, and unions to ensure employees are empowered to make the right decisions for themselves and their families. This includes making paid leave available, facilitating donated leave, fulfilling the promise of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA), and providing choice in the leave options for colleagues who are high-risk, concerned about exposure, or caring for loved ones during this time.
We will continue to follow Public Health’s directives, including the CDC’s guidance on “What Bus Transit Operators Need to Know About COVID-19” and look to our frontline employees for additional suggestions and recommendations.
We offer our deep thanks to our frontline colleagues and strive to best support them in delivering the essential service of transit.
Rob Gannon, General Manager
Terry White, Deputy General Manager
Paul Brodeur, Marine Division Director
Diane Carlson, Capital Division Director
Tim Flanagan, Bus Operations Division Director
Ade Franklin, Transit Facilities Division Director
Evan Inkster, Interim Rail Division Director
Chris O’Claire, Mobility Division Director
Chris Parrott, Vehicle Maintenance Division Director
John Resha, Finance & Administration Division Director and Assistant General Manager
Lisa Voight, Employee Services Division Director and Interim Assistant General Manager
Metro does not inform you if you have been near a positive person.
EVERY King County “leader” who signed on to that response is a liar!!! Not only do the KIRO news story and the petition contradict Metro’s blog post, but the blog post itself is contradictory. Did anyone else notice that in one paragraph Metro claims that employees are informed when there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workplace yet states in the next paragraph that new positive diagnoses in the workplace will NOT be announced? And why hasn’t Metro addressed the open letter? All these employees aren’t lying. The fact that Metro continues to lie about the conditions it’s subjecting its front line workers to speaks volumes about the LACK of commitment to safety. Stop SAYING the right things and start DO the right things!!!
“In cases where there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workplace, we inform other employees who have been in close contact.”
This statement is a blatant lie!
Thank yous and happy talk from Metro management don’t cut it. It is unacceptable for Metro to continue to hide statistics and facts on where/how many cases of COVID-19 exist in the workplace. This means no managemetn accountability and workers are kept in the dark. CT in Snohomish is being transparent. What is going on with King County? I heard several custodians were ill, but since management doesn’t say the rumors are that, rumors.
As the largest transit agency in Washington, and a one-time leader in the industry it is shameful to see Metro so slow and unresponsive in addressing the concerns of its workforce. Where is the best practices leadership? Missing in action. How many workers have fallen ill unnecessarily? We will never know because management is unaccountable. Metro should listen up to the workers who are speaking out instead of sticking to a bad script. That’s the height of arrogance.
I think too much time in leadership here at King county metro has proven to be non beneficial to the workers and the public. The greed and power clouds their minds from making correct choice beside the selfish one.
Like hiring people from other states which in tern bring their friend and friend friends and so on. Not hiring the correct men and women for the job.
They are not concerned about the people here in this state when they are clearly from another. Speaking of Gannon and his crew. I think all needs to go immediately and redone with local people who cares about the people who lives here.
Dear Rob Gannon,
My name is Meghan Peterka. I am a patron who has and will continue to use Metro’s services to get around. I am also the neighbor of a Metro driver.
I have been checking-in with my neighbor, since they are one of the frontline employees you refer to in your blog story, “Metro’s leaders share our response to COVID-19 – and our commitment to do more.” They have been working tirelessly the last several weeks, and they have been sharing with me appalling stories of what they and other drivers and patrons have been experiencing.
The following Kiro 7 news story, https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/king-county-metro-workers-demand-more-protections-prevent-spread-covid-19/MM3QQA4MRRGRZPTP6FZG2AWE4U/ and the petition put together by the frontline employees seem to contradict this blog post.
I would like to remind you and all those who added their names to this post, Terry White,
Paul Brodeur, Diane Carlson, Tim Flanagan, Ade Franklin, Evan Inkster, Chris O’Claire,
Chris Parrott, John Resha, and Lisa Voight, that it is your leadership responsibility to be honest and transparent about what Metro is doing during this time, and SUPPORTIVE to those on the frontline. It is also your responsibility to make sure there is a process and procedure that makes all drivers and patrons feel safe! These are set into place when management listens to those doing the job.
Both of these points are right on. Shame on Metro leadership. Dow should Fire the entire structure of management from Rob down to Monique
Everything that Metro has done thus far has been far too little and too late! Seattle was the first and is also one of the hardest hit places in the nation. Yet Metro is still having trouble obtaining masks for their employees. The CDC recommends that everyone out wear a mask and even McDonald’s employee’s are sporting them now, but somehow its impossible to get them for operators? Even though we are classified as first responders and should absolutely have access to proper PPE. This is a joke and frankly I expected better from my employer! Metro should be ashamed for their abhorrent disregard for the safety of its Metro bus operator’s and yes even the many passengers that this puts at risk. There is a reason why nurses change their PPE multiple times a day. But right now they can’t! So yes; continuing to put ourselves in danger to transport even nurses is difficult to stomach. They have higher odds of catching and transmitting the virus since they too are short on proper PPE and I drive many back and forth to work which means my risk goes up. I drive all different routes and times and I don’t see riders with groceries, I doubt they have appointments past 6pm, if even at all considering medical appointments have gone virtual practically everywhere. We are currently being expected to work through this crisis to ensure that the essential work force can still get to work and so that those that need transport for essential functions have access. Unfortunately the majority of riders are actually irresponsible and nonessential. People that have been ordered to stay in, but choose to go out. Or lets not forget about the disproportionately large number of homeless people or drug addicts who simply ride to have a warm safe place to rest or cause issues. Again, this is ridiculous. I feel that I am not safe. I feel that King County should be doing more to ensure my safety and the safety of my fellow drivers and all of our riders. If your essential and you’re well then of course I want Metro to operate. I understand the need for us, but we need to be protected and the riders need to be policed to ensure only necessary risks are being taken.
Your new decision to again cut number of trips is making riding transit a nightmare w covid. Buses crowded again vs having the ability to keep distance in emptier trips. How can you rejustify this disastrous and dangerous decision? Safety is 110% more important than $$.
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