Statement on New CDC Guidance from APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas
WASHINGTON (May 29, 2020)
“The new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance encouraging people to commute alone by car is misguided and will severely hamper our nation’s economic recovery, and shows a lack of understanding of how people of all incomes get around their communities.
For many individuals, the cost of owning and commuting by car is not financially viable and out of reach. The guidance also doesn’t consider the congestion created by millions of cars stuck in traffic. Gridlock and polluted skies are not the mobility future we want emerging from this crisis.
It also ignores the role that public transportation has played during the pandemic as a lifeline in getting essential workers to hospitals, pharmacies and grocery stores, and the extraordinary measures public transit agencies have taken to safeguard riders and employees.
In addition, the guidance is confusing and runs counter to past guidance provided to public transit agencies and riders and what has been provided on air travel. We urge the CDC to work with APTA and the public transit industry to further develop appropriate safeguards.
The current crisis has underscored that each entity involved in public transit – the transit agencies; the riders; business and elected officials – has a responsibility and role to play in ensuring the safety and vitality of our communities moving forward. A phased approach and gradual return will be the most appropriate for public transit and for businesses.
Public transit agencies across the country are adapting in real-time to the new dynamic, encouraging social distancing on buses and trains, requiring the use of face masks, and significantly stepping up the cleaning of vehicles and facilities. They are also piloting and testing technology solutions.
Businesses should be encouraged to stagger work hours for the foreseeable future, even metering the return of employees to offices in phases. Cities should expand and build bus lanes to expand capacity, provide more express service, and allow for social distancing by passengers. Now is the time to make these changes for a stronger and brighter future. Public transit is a lifeline during this crisis, providing essential services, and will be critical as our country recovers.”