Monday: Metro Transit Focusing On Rider, Operator Safety As Coronavirus Outbreak Grows | St. Louis Public Radio

Monday: Metro Transit Focusing On Rider, Operator Safety As Coronavirus Outbreak Grows

Mar 26, 2020

Credit File Photo | Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

This interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” over the noon hour Monday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

While many people are now working from home due to the spread of coronavirus, other members of the workforce, like grocery store staff, are still required by employers to go out to perform their regular duties and, in some cases, interact with the public. 

And since people need a way to get to those essential jobs, other sectors, such as transit, become inherently essential too. Metro Transit has significantly decreased its frequency of weekday service and its ridership is down, but some buses and trains are still running.

“We move the city,” says Reginald Howard, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 788. That’s a point of pride for Howard, who began working as a Metro mechanic nearly 25 years ago. But that critical role is also currently a huge point of concern for him and his union members.

While Metro Transit has taken steps to more frequently and thoroughly clean transit vehicles and limit bus drivers’ and Call-A-Ride operators’ interactions with passengers, worry remains widespread.

In addition, Metro Transit is not immune to the current coronavirus pandemic. On March 24, a Metro Transit spokeswoman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that three Bi-State Development employees tested positive for COVID-19

According to Howard, two were operators at the Brentwood MetroBus facility and one was a clerical worker at the Metro Transit corporate headquarters in the One Metropolitan Square located in downtown St. Louis.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske will talk with Howard about the safety procedures Metro Transit is taking following the coronavirus outbreak, what the company is doing to boost the morale of workers and the future and funding of public transportation.

The discussion will also touch on the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on taxi drivers.

St. Louis on the Air is eager to hear from people who rely solely on Metro to get back and forth to work and to access necessities. How are you adapting your work commute following the coronavirus outbreak? Tweet us (@STLonAir), send an email to talk@stlpublicradio.org or share your thoughts via our St. Louis on the Air Facebook group, and help inform our coverage.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The engineer is Aaron Doerr and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.