OPTA releases guidelines for public transit

FRS Transportation prepares to resume public transit routes

By McKenzie Caldwell - [email protected]

The Ohio Public Transit Association (OPTA) released guidelines and best practices for public transit and human service in response to COVID-19 concerns, according to a press release provided by Highland County Mobility Manager Joe Adray.

Though FRS Transportation Director Damon Lucas was unable to comment on how these guidelines could affect Highland County as he needed to further review OPTA’s guidelines, he said FRS is preparing to resume its public transit routes in and between Hillsboro and Greenfield.

According to the press release, urban and rural public transit organizations from around the state collaborated to develop the guidelines by interpreting and applying federal and state-issued best practices within the “constraints and environmental realities” of public transportation.

“These recommendations specifically address the unique challenges faced by public transportation providers and state-funded human service transportation agencies,” OPTA President Claudia Amrhein said. “In developing the COVID-19 guidelines, we recognize the necessity to remain responsive to the needs of specific communities while also adapting to the fluid conditions presented by COVID-19.”

OPTA detailed its recommendations in a nine-page document, but added that the guidelines are meant to be shaped to individual transportation agencies.

“Recognizing that each public transit system and human service transportation agency has different and unique circumstances, the manner in which these recommendations are implemented will depend on an agency’s size, modes of operation, geography and available resources,” OPTA stated in the document. “Implementing any of these recommendations will help reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading among agency staff and riders and can be used in the development/enhancement of agency health and safety plans. OPTA respectfully requests the support of the Ohio Department of Health in distributing and updating, as may be necessary, the following guidelines and best practices for Ohio public transit and human service transportation agencies during COVID-19.”

OPTA recommended that vehicle operators and passengers not only wear personal protective equipment (PPE), but also attempt to minimize exposure in the event that close contact is required to secure passengers, by turning their heads away from one another.

FRS Transportation began offering public transit routes in and between Hillsboro and Greenfield in early March, but operations came to a halt after just a few weeks due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Lucas told The Times-Gazette in a previous interview.

During the stay-at-home order, FRS primarily transported individual riders and single-family units for doctors’ appointments and grocery trips via same-day, on-demand rides, but the agency’s public transportation routes, also known as “deviated loops,” were originally intended to offer Highland County residents transportation options for all their needs — essential and nonessential.

Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.

FRS Transportation prepares to resume public transit routes

By McKenzie Caldwell

[email protected]