Study Highlights Transit Agency Best Practices in Response to COVID-19

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on
LinkedIn
+

Report describes what the MBTA is already doing and recommends additional steps

BOSTON – The MBTA is taking a number of important steps to mitigate risks associated with the coronavirus, but some transit agencies around the country – from Philadelphia to San Francisco – have done more, according to a new study that highlights the best practices of U.S. transit systems in response to COVID-19.

“The MBTA faces a daunting challenge trying to keep the system safe for essential workers, including its own employees, at a time of plummeting ridership and revenue,” said Andrew Mikula, author of “U.S. Transit Systems and COVID-19: How does the MBTA Compare?

Mikula looks at transit system responses in a range of categories, including the following:

Public relations and transparency  

The MBTA posts regular COVID-19 updates online, and the Fiscal and Management Control Board livestreams its meetings and actively solicits public comments.  The next step would be for the T to release presentation materials for the meetings in advance, as Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) does.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) posts detailed information about infections among staff online and provides special COVID system maps with information on rail closings.  The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) even provides a map showing essential services adjacent to stations.

In the absence of some of these more advanced steps, MBTA unions have helped fill the gap by keeping employees engaged and informed on COVID-19.

Worker safety

The MBTA is restricting access to the front of buses to protect drivers.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is eschewing fare collection procedures to facilitate rear-door boarding.  WMATA is giving workers the authority to limit boardings when a vehicle is too crowded to allow for social distancing.

Disinfection

The MBTA is cleaning high-contact areas at stations six times a day and cleaning vehicles at least daily.  The T has beefed up its inventory of cleaning supplies and is among the many transit agencies that have added hand sanitizer dispensers in particularly busy stations.

BART now cleans high-contact areas eight times a day and CTA is reconfiguring station waiting areas and gathering places to facilitate social distancing.  SEPTA claims to clean each vehicle twice a day and has limited its bus fleet to those with easy-to-clean seat materials such as plastic.

Administration

WMATA has and is implementing an official Pandemic Flu Plan.  The MBTA should develop a similar plan to be used in the event of another public health crisis, terrorist threat, or severe weather event.

About the Author

Andrew Mikula is the Lovett & Ruth Peters Economic Opportunity Fellow at Pioneer Institute. Mr. Mikula was previously a Roger Perry Government Transparency Intern at Pioneer Institute and studied economics at Bates College.

About Pioneer

Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.

Get Our COVID-19 News, Tips & Resources!

Related Content

Stanford’s Prof. Caroline Hoxby on Charter Schools, K-12 Ed Reform, & Global Competitiveness

/
This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Caroline Hoxby, the Scott and Donya Bommer Professor of Economics at Stanford University and a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution.

The 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower - 15 Resources for K-12 Students

In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Celebrating the 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage.

SABIS® President Carl Bistany on International Education, Charter Public Schools, & At-Risk Students

/
This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Carl Bistany, the president of SABIS® Educational Systems, an education company founded over 130 years ago that serves young women in the Middle East, and poor and minority students in the U.S.

MBTA Cuts Ahead: COVID Causes Commuters To Consider Comprehensive Changes

/
Host Joe Selvaggi and Pioneer Institute Senior Fellow Charlie Chieppo discuss the reasons for the recently proposed cuts to MBTA service, and offer suggestions as to how the agency’s leadership could use this crisis to improve the service’s long-term health.

Pioneer Report Spotlights Decade-long Building Boom in Massachusetts Construction Industry

In the lead-up to the COVID-19 crisis, the Massachusetts construction industry enjoyed a boom in select subsectors, though employment numbers had yet to recover from the setbacks of the Great Recession, according to a new report from Pioneer Institute that draws data from the MassEconomix web tool.

Contracting with private providers could avert MBTA cuts

/
In response to a collapse in MBTA service in the winter of 2015, the newly formed Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) set the authority on a course of bold reforms. The COVID-19 pandemic is once again presenting new and significant challenges to T leadership that require a rethinking of how service is delivered to stave off painful service cuts.

Pioneer Institute Statement on MBTA Service Cuts

Even as MBTA ridership and revenue have been gutted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the system remains a lifeline for so many residents in the Greater Boston area, especially those working in essential services like health care or in industries most impacted by the pandemic such as the restaurant sector.  Facing a crisis of this magnitude, T leadership must first do its all to rethink how it delivers services before reflexively making cuts.

Pioneer Checklist Includes Steps for Policy Makers, Business Owners to Revitalize Hardest-Hit Industries

Combining the recommendations of studies published earlier this year, Pioneer Institute has released “A Checklist for How to Revitalize the Industries Hit Hardest by COVID-19.” The recommendations for policy makers are organized in three sections: Immediate Relief, Tax Policy Changes and Permanent Reforms.  Business owner recommendations are split into COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols, Expanded Services and Steps to Improve Cash Flow.

A Checklist for How to Revitalize the Industries Hit Hardest by COVID-19

This checklist combines the recommendations of studies published earlier this year offering recommendations for policy makers, organized in three sections: Immediate Relief, Tax Policy Changes and Permanent Reforms.  Business owner recommendations are split into COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols, Expanded Services and Steps to Improve Cash Flow.

Capturing Voter Intent: What Polling Error Teaches Us About Electoral Trends

/
Join Host Joe Selvaggi and Harvard Professor Chase Harrison as they discuss polling methodology and what errors in 2020 reveal about voting during COVID-19 and changing attitudes toward pollsters.

Pioneer Report Highlights Pre-Pandemic Employment Growth in Massachusetts’ Hospitality & Food Industry

In the lead-up to the COVID-19 crisis, the Massachusetts Hospitality and Food Industry enjoyed generally positive employment growth, according to a new report from Pioneer Institute that draws data from the MassEconomix web tool. Most of the Hospitality and Food Industry employment across the state is concentrated in full-service restaurants and hotels.

Ghost Dance – Native American Heritage Month – Resources for K-12 Education

In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Introducing K-12 schoolchildren to Native Americans in U.S. history.