Coping with Continuing Services during theCOVID-19 Pandemic
Posted on April, 14th 2020
As the spread of COVID-19 continues across the country, its effects have been felt across our transit systems and by transportation agencies around the country. Even with a general quarantine on many parts of the country, especially in the nation’s busiest hubs, our transportation agencies are still helping first responders get to their jobs, performing important maintenance repairs, and helping move supplies across the country. Across all levels of government, everyone has been pitching in to do their part to help the nation through this difficult time.
To make up for the shortfall in the budget of many transit agencies, the Federal Government passed the Coronavirus relief act which includes over 31.1 billion dollars in funds for USDOT to distribute to transit providers and transportation agencies across the country for operating and capital expenses. USDOT has also made many coronavirus specific resources available on its website, including information on travel precautions for commuters and issuing Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers Guidance, providing updates to workers considered vital to our transportation infrastructure. The bills also provide funding for infrastructure improvements such as upgrades to high-speed internet services in rural areas.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration released guidance specific to EMS workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. This includes personal protective equipment, crisis planning documents, continually updated factsheets about the virus. Similarly, the American Public Transit Association has also released a Public Transit Planning and Response Guide specifically geared towards transportation and EMS workers who remain in service.
Many agencies have also begun to make educational resources available for free or at reduced prices while the pandemic continues. In an attempt to support the workers in the transportation industry perform their responsibilities safely, organizations such as APWA have begun offering open access and discounts on educational resources to the public community through May 25, as well as hosting a live COVID-19 Webinar Forum from April 6-8. APWA also developed a Coronavirus and the Public Works Community resource web page with infographics and updates for members of the Public Works community. This page also has information providing links to health organizations, federal agencies as well as a news section so you can find out updates on the latest federal actions for COVID-19 emergency funds. Users are also able to share their experiences so you can tell the story of how your organization is handling the coronavirus outbreak, or learn lessons from others on how they have dealt with the crisis.
As more in-person gatherings have been cancelled across the country, many are turning towards online training for their transportation professionals. NHI has a large online database of web-based training available, some of which are free of charge. LPA’s can access the AASHTO TC3 courses free of charge for web based training from everything to pavements and materials to personal worker safety. Similarly FHWA always has their archived Innovation Exchange Webinars available at no charge to the general public. The National Local Technical Assistance Program Association (NLTAPA) is also maintaining a collective calendar on upcoming webinars hosted by the network of centers. And don’t forget to check out our archived training page with over 50 recorded webinars on various topics.
In short, even during these uncertain times, many transportation agencies are making sure that people across the country get the information, support, and training they need. Please consider following one of the resources listed above as this pandemic unfolds for continuous updates and online training opportunities.