METRO - Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County

01/20/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/20/2021 17:09

Bus Operators, Contract Drivers Among Latest COVID-19 Cases

Release Date: Jan. 20, 2021
Media Hot Line: 713.739.4040

METRO has received confirmation five bus operators, two officers in the METRO Police Department, four employees in the Operations Department, an employee in the Communications Department and three contract workers employed by First Transit have tested positive for COVID-19. This brings the total number of cases to 425 METRO employees and 85 contractors since March 2020.

Two hundred and one of the employees had no contact with the public. METRO tracks and reports all positive cases among its 4200 employees and the various contractors who provide services to METRO. We are also conducting temperature checks of employees and others before they begin their workday at METRO facilities or on our vehicles.

The first bus operator last worked Jan. 14 and in the two weeks prior, operated the following routes:

The second bus operator last worked Jan. 14 and in the two weeks prior, operated the following routes:

The third bus operator last worked Jan. 11 and in the two weeks prior, operated the following routes:

The fourth bus operator last worked Dec. 31 and in the two weeks prior, operated the following route:

The fifth bus operator last worked Jan. 18 and in the two weeks prior, operated the following routes:

The contract bus operator last worked Jan. 14 and in the two weeks prior, operated the following route:

*The charts above reflect the days the operators drove a route two weeks prior to their last days on the job.

The second contract driver works for First Transit and in the two weeks prior to testing positive operated services for METROLift on Jan. 7-9, 11, 14 and 15. METROLift is an on-demand service and does not operate specific routes.

The first MPD officer is assigned to the METRORail division and prior to testing positive was on duty Jan. 1,2, 5-9, and 12-14.

The second MPD officer is assigned to the METRORail division and prior to teting postive was on duty Jan. 5-9, and 12-16.

Others testing positive include:

  • four Operations employees who last worked Jan. 10-17 and had no contact with the public
  • a Communications employee who has been working remotely since April
  • a contract maintenance worker employed by First Transit who last worked Jan. 12 and had no contact with the public

Anyone who comes in contact with an individual who tests positive should monitor themselves for possible symptoms, contact your health care provider as soon as you develop any symptoms, and self-isolate to avoid possibly exposing others, including refraining from using public transportation.

METRO is working with public health officials so they can identify and notify anyone who traveled the routes driven by the bus operators during those time frames as well as anyone else who may have been impacted by the latest positive cases.

Since mid-March, 2020 METRO has sought to minimize the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission by operators or passengers by encouraging social distancing. On March 23, 2020 the agency temporarily suspended collecting fares to avoid unnecessary contacts. Shortly thereafter, orange mesh fencing was installed across the aisles of every local bus to assure appropriate distancing between operators and passengers.

More safety upgrades are also being added to ​buses, trains and METROLift vehicles. Operators and riders will now have access to hand sanitizer while on board and protective shields around drivers' seats will provide another layer of separation between operators and the public. Operators and riders are required to wear a face covering while on the system.

We appreciate and greatly value our riders. We have taken many actions, including working with the community at large, to 'flatten the curve' of COVID-19. To prevent or minimize its transmission on the transit system, METRO asks all riders to use the system only for essential trips at this time, practice social distancing when you do ride transit (i.e., stand or sit at least 6 feet apart, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, wash your hands for 20 seconds before boarding transit and after deboarding, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, or cough or sneeze into your elbow, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, and stay home if you are sick). Additionally, riders should stand or sit no closer than six feet behind the driver.

METRO's number one priority is protecting the health and safety of our customers, community and employees.