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Dona Ana County’s South Central Regional Transit District (SCRTD) is installing plexiglass shields to help protect bus drivers from COVID-19 transmission, and already has instituted ongoing vehicle-sanitation protocols to protect both drivers and passengers.
SCRTD Executive Director David Armijo said the first plexiglass shield was crafted from materials obtained locally, but supplies are limited, and new shields are being crafted and installed as the materials are received from online sources.
He said the district’s maintenance manager, Fernando Ramirez, builds and installs the shields at a maintenance facility in Anthony, N.M.
Each shield costs about $400 in parts to make and install, he said, adding that the shields enhance driver protections that already include masks, gloves and spray disinfectant. He said that, once installed, each shield will be a permanent fixture in each bus.
Soon, he said, drivers will be fitted with face shields, as well. Passenger protection is enhanced, he said, by ensuring maximum safe distance between all persons riding on each vehicle. CDC recommendations are posted in each bus, as well. Fares have been eliminated to minimize touch and transactions.
Additional precautions, Armijo said, include asking drivers not to come in if they are ill, in which case reserve drivers can be called in to take over routes.
“The district has maintained 80 percent of its core service,” Armijo said. “Trips to school and business have been reduced in the peak hours to better reflect demand for service. Calls for service have increased, requiring both administrative and operations staff to maintain the customer service phone line and to respond to these service-related calls.”
Armijo said the district is committed to uninterrupted service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We understand that you rely on the Transit District for your essential travel,” he said. “That is why we have continued to operate service during the COVID-19 pandemic to get you to the grocery store, to the pharmacy or to your doctor’s appointments. We are committed to continue to provide the safest way to travel to and within Doña Ana County, including Garfield and Hatch to Las Cruces, and Las Cruces to Anthony, Chaparral, Santa Teresa and Sunland Park and connecting service to El Paso.”