SAFETY FOR TRANSIT WORKERS AND RIDERS
Prompted by growing concerns about transmission of COVID-19 on transit, VPT advocated for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to prioritize worker and rider safety.
Beginning in March 2020, we urged MTC to establish region-wide health and safety standards to protect transit workers and riders from the preventable spread of COVID-19.
At a time when local government resources are stretched thin, the MTC received $1.3 billion in federal funds through the CARES Act to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19. We urged MTC to allocate a small portion of this fund for:
cleaning transit vehicles to a higher standard
offering hazard pay for transit workers who are taken ill by COIVD-19, and
increasing safety by making PPE universally available to workers and riders.
VPT members worked closely with locals of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) on this campaign, in addition to VPT coalition members. We collected 2,500 petitions and engaged many community leaders and members of the public to provide public comments at MTC meetings.
As a result of our efforts, MTC recognized the need for improving health and safety but failed to take concrete action on the issue. In August 2020, the MTC published a report documenting practices that have already been adopted and outlined the individual responsibility of riders to ensure safety on public transit.