In response to the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), the Madison County Transit Board of Trustees held an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon, via remote link conference call, and approved a series of changes, including the temporary suspension of all fares on its MCT Fixed-Route and Runabout paratransit services.
The temporary fare suspension will take effect at the start of business Wednesday, March 18, and will remain in place until further notice. Suspending fares during the COVID-19 pandemic eliminates the passing of cash, tokens, and bus passes to and from passengers and drivers and significantly reduces driver-passenger contact.
The MCT Board of Trustees also granted Interim Managing Director SJ Morrison the authority to make future fixed-route service reductions which may be needed on a temporary emergency basis. At this time, MCT is not proposing any service reductions but will be prepared to do so if needed. Effective immediately, the board also approved the closure of the MCT Base of Operations to the public. All meetings, all individuals coming to complete applications, all interviews, all vendors, all pass sales, all Free Ride ID Sessions, and all lost and found visits at the MCT Base of Operations in Pontoon Beach will be stopped until further notice. In addition, the board also approved the closure of all MCT transfer stations (Alton, Collinsville, Edwardsville, Granite City, and Wood River). The stations will continue to serve as transfer points, but the buildings will be closed to the public.
MCT Interim Managing Director SJ Morrison released the following statement:
“We are closely monitoring the situation regarding COVID-19, which is changing rapidly, and we are staying in close contact with the Madison County Health Department, sharing information as needed. The health and safety of our passengers, patrons and the communities we serve is our top priority. We know that MCT provides critical transportation to the community and that thousands of individuals depend on our services each day. Although we urge you to follow the CDC’s protocols and exercise social distancing, hand-washing, to limit your time away from home and to avoid all contact with regularly used public surfaces, we understand that residents still need to reach grocery stores, social services, and loved ones by riding MCT. We take this responsibility very seriously and are making every effort to protect both our employees and the people we serve.”
What MCT is doing to keep employees and passengers safe
In the last few weeks, as COVID-19 has spread quickly from city to city, MCT has taken several steps to keep employees and passengers safe and healthy. In addition to the actions taken by the MCT Board on Tuesday, they include:
Continuing to clean and disinfect buses each night, especially commonly used surfaces such as handrails, seat backs, grab bars, and stanchions. (Keep in mind that once a surface is touched it is no longer sanitized.)
Adding staff to disinfect surfaces at the MCT Base of Operations including doorknobs, tables, railings, vending machines, etc.
Distributing disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, and gloves to employees, especially drivers.
Increasing efforts to disinfect the inside of driver relief vehicles.
Removing all timetables and other paper materials from the buses, as they are often used and then placed back on the rack. (All schedules can be found online at www.mct.org)
Distributing information at the base and on the buses from the CDC and the Illinois Department of Health about ways that individuals can stay healthy.
What you can do to stay safe
Everyone has a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and can keep themselves, their loved ones, and others safe by following recommendations from the CDC and other health experts.
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
Disinfect shared surfaces and frequently touched objects
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
Cover your cough or sneeze, be sure to do so in your arm or a tissue
Stay home if you feel COVID-19 symptoms
Practice social distancing by staying at least six feet away from other people