Shuttle Service Steps Up Bus Cleaning, Social Distancing

As part of COVID-19 precautions, CMU adds route to Squirrel Hill

Carnegie Mellon University’s Shuttle and Escort services keep people on the move while the pandemic lingers.

The Shuttle Service offers transportation options for students, faculty and staff members and operates on a fixed route with specific stops. The Escort Service operates in the evening/overnight and provides transportation from campus to surrounding neighborhoods. Shuttles also service the Pittsburgh Technology Center and Bakery Square.

As with other essential services the university provides, some changes have occurred to safeguard the health and well-being of passengers and drivers.

Michelle Porter, director of Parking and Transportation Services , said that extensive cleaning, modified seating arrangements and added plexiglass barriers between the driver and passengers are among the adjustments made in the past six weeks.

"For physical distancing, we’ve reduced our seating capacity in half. Our 22 passenger buses are down to 11 passengers and 44 passengers are down to 22," Porter said. "Drivers are also required to wear masks and wipe down the shuttle interior every other trip to ensure cleanliness."

CMU Pandemic Safety Officer, driver and coordinator Ronald Meeder discusses new cleaning and riding procedures to keep riders and drivers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Passengers are required to wear masks as well.

Ronald Meeder, a CMU Pandemic Safety Officer and shuttle driver, said that the buses receive weekly cleanings with high-powered electrostatic sprayers.

"The best way for riders to protect the other passengers and the drivers is to minimize the communication between each other and to sit in the authorized seats that have the 6-foot spacing to minimize any spread of the virus," Meeder said. "If you feel you have COVID symptoms, you’re suggested not to ride the vehicle."

Ridership has been low since the beginning of the pandemic, Porter said, mainly because the Pittsburgh campus has had fewer faculty, staff and students.

"We are seeing a slight increase in ridership numbers now that students are back," Porter said. "We’ve also added an additional route to Squirrel Hill at the request of the campus community."

Public transportation has provided a vital service to essential workers commuting during the pandemic and has not been linked to COVID-19 transmission. The latest research from international sources shows that public transit can be used safely through the use of face coverings. Contact tracing tests in countries such as France and Japan have not found clusters of COVID-19 cases linked to public transit use.

"We are continuously monitoring service and ridership and will adjust as we see fit in order to serve the campus community," Porter said.

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