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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 FAQs for Transit Providers

FAQs Last Updated: January 5, 2021

On March 23, Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order 20-12, directing everyone in Oregon to stay at home to the maximum extent possible. During this time, public transportation has continued to operate as it is a vital link, and sometimes the only means, for Oregonians to access employment, healthcare and other important services including access to groceries and pharmacies.

Effective May 15, 2020, the Governor issued statewide guidelines for Oregon transit agencies. These guidelines incorporate measures recommended by the Federal Transit Administration, Centers for Disease Control, and Oregon Health Authority, and are intended to protect agency staff, passengers, and communities.​

ODOT will continue to coordinate with local, state and federal officials to provide guidance to public transportation agencies and passengers and assist transit agencies with implementation of recommended precautions.

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) publishes information about COVID-19, including agency-specific guidelines. Go to the OHA COVID-19 webpage​ for more information.

For transit agency specific information visi​t this​​ OHA resource​. ​

This guidance provides links to:​

  • Masks, Face Coverings, and Face Shields
  • General Guidance for Employers and Organizations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in community settings. This is an additional public health measure that can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in addition to (not instead of) social distancing, frequent hand cleaning, and other everyday preventive actions. A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This is especially important in the event that someone is infected but does not have symptoms. A cloth face covering should be worn whenever people must go into public settings (grocery stores, for example).

The CDC’s website​ includes more information about selecting masks, how to wear masks, storing and washing masks, making masks, and considerations for wearing masks.

Yes. OHA guidance states that transit agencies  require employees, contractors and volunteers to wear a mask, face shield, or face covering, unless an accommodation for people with disabilities or other exemption applies. All transit employers must provide masks, face shields, or face coverings for employees. Medical grade masks are not required for transit agency drivers or staff.   

Transit agencies should develop and comply with policies and procedures that provide for accommodations and exemptions for employees, contractors and volunteers based on:

  • State and federal disabilities laws if applicable, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which protects people with disabilities from discrimination in employment and requires employers to engage in the interactive process for accommodations.
  • State or federal labor laws where applicable.
  • State and federal public accommodations laws that provide all persons with full and equal access to services, transportation, and facilities open to the public.
  • OHA public health guidance if applicable.​​

Yes. OHA guidance states that transit agencies must require public transit passengers to wear face coverings and provide one for a passenger that does not have one. An individual must wear a face covering unless they meet one of the exemptions specified in the transit agency's face covering policies, consistent with OHA Mask and Face Cover Guidance for Business, Transit, and the Public. “Face covering" means a cloth, paper, or disposable face covering that covers the nose and the mouth.

Transit agencies are required to develop a policy and post clear signs about face covering requirements. A policy that requires customers and visitors to wear face coverings must:

  • Provide exceptions to the policy to accommodate people with certain health conditions, or children under two years of age.
  • Take into account that places of public accommodation must make reasonable modifications to their policy to allow people with disabilities to access their services.
  • Take into account that requiring people to wear face coverings affects people differently including people of color who may have heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment due to wearing face coverings in public.

The CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community setting. This is an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in addition to (not instead of) social distancing, frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions. A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important in the event that someone is infected but does not have symptoms. A cloth face covering should be worn whenever people must go into public settings (grocery stores, for example). ​


Each transit agency should approach enforcement of this requirement in the manner that works best for the agency and the community it serves. Some options for transit providers to consider when developing policies and procedures are listed below. Providers are encouraged to research and consider other best practices as response to the pandemic continues.

Although transit agencies are partners in maintaining public health, drivers may not be qualified to accurately assess and diagnose the health condition of passengers. For this reason, passengers may generally be permitted to refrain from wearing a covering if they express any reasonable justification for being unable to do. Drivers should maintain a friendly, respectful, and courteous demeanor in order to create an environment to encourage the maximum number of passengers adhering to the face covering requirement.

Drivers and agency staff are ​discouraged from engaging in any of the following:

  • Forcibly preventing a passenger from boarding who refuses to wear a covering.
  • Forcibly removing a passenger from a bus who removes their covering while on board.
  • Assisting passengers with putting on a face covering.
  • Allowing or participating in the harassment, intimidation, or discrimination of any passenger who is unable to wear a face covering or has legitimate reasons for refusal.
  • Performing temperature checks on passengers as a condition to board.​


OHA guidelines recommend physical distancing from any person who is not a member of one’s household. It is up to the discretion of an agency to determine how members of the same household may ride on transit. If agency policy will allow household members to sit as a group, the maximum capacity must maintain 3 feet of distance between the household group and other passengers. Agencies must post the maximum capacity, or capacity range if household groups may sit together, on each bus.​​

When a state or local municipality issues a “stay home” order, the state or local government entity making the declaration stipulates exactly who/what the “order” applies to and how. Any question or concerns related to such declarations should be presented to the state or local municipality who issued the order for response and guidance.   

The State of Oregon has not issued an essential business list. The state, instead, has provided a list of business categories that should STOP OPERATING because the nature of these businesses makes it impossible to adhere to social distancing protocol (for example, nail salons, hair salons, barber shops may not continue operation as it is impossible to provide these services while maintaining appropriate social distance).

If a business can maintain appropriate social distancing, AND it is not in any of the categories listed in Executive Order 20-12​, the business may continue operating while adhering to social distancing protocol.

Concern regarding public transportation is understandable. Providers can and should respond to changes in local conditions and needs related to local stay-at-home guidelines, changes at large employment centers, staff reductions due to illness, or other challenges. Such conditions may make it difficult or impossible for a provider to continue providing services at usual levels or frequency.

In declared emergencies, transit providers work with local emergency management officials to address community needs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, both the state of Oregon and the federal government have declared emergencies.​​

OHA guidance requires the following:

  • Post clear signs, in more than one language, (available at healthoregon.org/coronavirus) at transit stops/centers listing COVID-19 symptoms
  • Providers should ask riders with symptoms to stay home, and who to contact if they need assistance. 
  • If someone with symptoms must travel, please use an alternate to transit, if available.

The CDC recommends the following:

  • Stay home if you're sick.
  • ​​Avoid close contact and practice social distancing between riders and the transit driver 
  • Clean your hands often. Wash vigorously with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.​

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has provided guidance (under the civil rights section of its FAQ document​) to offer options for transporting visibly sick riders who represent a direct threat to the health or safety of others. 

Transit agencies should consult with local public health officials, city or county managers, and local legal counsel before determining whether a transit rider should be denied access in the interest of public health. These decisions should be made at a policy level and not left up to vehicle operator discretion.​

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides new FTA Section 5307 and 5311 funding to assist providers during the COVID-19 pandemic, was signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020. ​ See the ODOT Public Transportation Division’s latest communication on distributing these funds.

Also, with the federal disaster declaration, local governments are eligible for relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and can pass such resources on to public transportation agencies if they are assisting with emergency functions. Local transportation agenci​​es who wish to apply for FEMA funding should check ​with their county emergency management office about the application process.​

​Yes, 5310 and 5311-funded vehicles can be used to provide meal delivery.

Subrecipients can pay for operating meal delivery services through the following:

  • 5311: This can be​ done with CARES funding (100%) match rate and the Emergency Relief enhanced match rate (100%)
  • 5310:  This can be done with the regular match rate.  The enhanced match rates are not available for 5310.​
Note:  The period of eligibility for using 5311 funds for operating meal delivery has been extended until January 20, 2022.

Transit agencies responding to the COVID-19 pandemic may use the Emergency Relief Docket to request a waiver from FTA administrative and regulatory requirements, as well as the provisions of any non-statutory FTA requirements.​

Some federal requirements include specific provisions related to emergencies, and therefore, no FTA waiver is necessary.

The FTA's COVID-19 FAQs page provides additional details and contact information regarding waiver requests. ​

Can funding from the Special Transportation Fund (STF) be used to support transportation services other than public transportation services?

Per Oregon administrative rule and statute, STF funds are available for financing and improving transportation programs and services for seniors and people with disabilities and may be used for the following purposes: ​

  1. ​​Maintenance of existing transportation programs and services for the Elderly and People with Disabilities. 
  2. Expansion of such programs and services. 
  3. Creation of new programs and services. 
  4. Planning for, and development of, access to transportation for the Elderly and People with Disabilities who are not currently served by transportation programs and services. 
The designated uses of STF funds are determined by local priority, through a local STF Advisory Committee process. If an STF Agency and Advisory Committee determine that local citizens, particularly seniors and individuals with disabilities, are not able to access regular services, the local agency can determine that providing meals or pharmaceutical delivery services are considered appropriate uses of these funds and would benefit those vulnerable populations. The same process could apply to cleaning and disinfecting measures, or transporting personnel for medical or emergency purposes.

Can STF funds from one STF Agency be used to fund services in an adjacent STF Agency’s area of responsibility?

Yes. Access to essential services is not limited by jurisdictional boundaries, and frequently involves travel to another community outside the general area of an STF Agency. Multiple STF agencies should work cooperatively with providers, individuals, and other agencies to more effectively apply funding and other resources to meet common transportation needs of vulnerable populations (e.g., people unable to drive, people with disabilities, and older adults). Coordination actions may reduce duplication of service, reduce cost, increase service levels, or make services more widely avai​lable in a community.


Can funding from the Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund (STIF) be used to maintain existing public transportation services?​

Yes​

Can STIF funding be used to support transportation services other than public transportation services?​

No, STIF statutes limit STIF use to financing investments and improvements in public transportation services, except for light rail capital.

​Yes. Reporting to the National Transit Database (NTD) is required by law and transit agencies must complete their NTD report for the fiscal year July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020.​

​The declaration of a national, state, or local emergency does not exempt FTA-regulated employers from the applicable FTA testing requirements. As an FTA-regulated employer, you must comply with the  drug and alcohol testing requirements found in 49 CFR Parts 40 and 655.

As an FTA-regulated employer, you are required to comply with the applicable FTA testing requirements. The FTA recognizes that transit agencies may experience difficulties with some areas of compliance and has addressed some many of them on its website with frequently asked questions about COVID-19​

Contact your ODOT regional transit coordinator or reach out to partner transit agencies. ODOT PTD will continue to update its COVID-19 webpage.  It has links to relevant information and examples from state or national agencies.​ The FTA also has resources available. We are all in this together and need to continue working together and supporting each other.

COVID-19 FAQs for Passengers

​Yes. Public transportation is a vital service, and sometimes the only way for Oregonians to access employment, healthcare and other important services including access to groceries and medication​. 

The state and federal government intend to continue transit connections while keeping services as safe as possible during this pandemic. Concern regarding public transportation is understandable during this time. Transit providers are taking actions to continue to provide services, including:​​

  • Increased sanitation and disinfecting of vehicle interiors.
  • Posting health directives from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and​ Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
  • Implementing passenger spacing protocols.
  • Requiring riders to wear face coverings. (Refer to your local transit provider for policy details.)
  • Providing hand sanitizer for employees and passengers.​​

If you must travel outside your home, use the same precautions you would for all travel.​

Please refer to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Guidance for the General Public when traveling and using public transit. ​

​Transit operators are at the front line during this pandemic. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and local public transit providers are taking local conditions into account as they plan their service. Some providers have reduced services as ridership has declined or staff has not been available. Please calll your local transit provider​ to find out if there are any changes to their schedule.

Status as of December 22, 2020

The Amtrak Cascades service offers one daily roundtrip between Seattle and Eugene, seven days a week.  This consists of early morning Eugene to Seattle route - Train 500 (5:30 a.m. departure), and a midafternoon Seattle to Eugene route - Train 505 (2:20 p.m. departure). There is no train service north of Seattle.  For schedule changes on the Cascades train route call 1-800-USA-RAIL or visit Amtrak.com.

​Full Amtrak train schedules, along with booking and general information can be found at Amtrak.com or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL.​

Amtrak has dveloped a safety standards webpage​ that details​​ enhanced safety and cleaning measures.


​Status as of Tuesday, March 31, 2020 5 pm

Please follow the POINT Facebook page and check the POINT website​ for the latest updates. Operations will continue as long as is feasible and safe to do so in order to ensure that essential travel can continue for our passengers who need it.


Updated March 24, 2020, 12 p.m.

Public Transportation Advisory Committee meetings are being held as on-line open houses.  For more information, email Jaimie Baldwin​ or call 503-383-6733.

This decision was made to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the health of Oregonians. We look forward to working with our communities to hold these events live when the crisis is over.​

Status as of Thursday, March 19, 2020 12:30 p.m.

The Oregon Department of Transportation has stopped issuing special event permits for events to be held on the state highway system prior to April 14 that would attract 25 or more people. Current permits for this time period are being canceled and event organizers notified. Permits may be issued for events after April 14th, however organizers should be aware that the COVID-19 situation is evolving quickly and may require extending the ban on events.

This decision was made to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the health of Oregonians. We look forward to working with our communities to hold these events when the crisis is over.​​

Public Transit COVID-19 Updates

May 7, 2020

The ODOT Public Transportation Division (PTD) has successfully secured a supply of protective cloth face coverings through Oregon's Emergency Coordination Center. These coverings are not medical grade surgical or N95 masks, such as those used by healthcare professionals; however, they are useful as protection against the spread of the coronavirus and may be washed for repeated use.

PTD will be providing these face coverings to public transportation providers across Oregon, free of charge. Distribution methods and recipients are at each agency's discretion. We are prioritizing delivery to rural agencies, as supply options may be limited in those areas.  Once initial rural orders are filled, additional requests will be considered depending on the remaining supply.  There is a limit of 200 per agency at a time. 

To indicate your interest in obtaining a supply of face coverings, please complete the order form located here: Face Covering Order Form and submit it to PTD for processing.

We will arrange delivery to the address provided on the form. Delivery may take up to two weeks from PTD's receipt of the order form. In the event that an order cannot be filled, PTD will contact the requestor immediately.

We are very interested in keeping bus drivers, staff that routinely interact with the public, and passengers healthy during this pandemic. Providing these face coverings is just one of many measures we are all taking during this time.


May 4, 2020

FTA is pleased to share this thank you video from Secretary Elaine L. Chao to the thousands of public transit employees that are still on the job in communities all across the country.  Transit employees represent critical infrastructure workers responsible for transporting police, doctors, nurses, grocery store clerks and other essential workers to and from work every day.  Many public transit employees are making incredible sacrifices to ensure that America keeps moving during this incredibly difficult time.   

We sincerely appreciate all that they do.

With Appreciation,

K. Jane Williams
Acting Administrator
Federal Transit Administration


April 2, 2020

This morning the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) released apportionment tables for the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act" or “CARES Act." This legislation includes provisions for new transit funding to assist providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding package is the largest transit appropriation in history and will benefit recipients of Section 5307 Urbanized Area Formula Grants and Section 5311 Formula Grants for Rural Areas.

Details on apportionments to Oregon are listed below. Section 5311 Formula Grants for Rural Areas funds will be distributed by the Oregon Department of Transportation to subrecipients of the 5311 program. More details about this distribution will be forthcoming in a separate communication early next week that will include the application process and schedule. Although the timing of funding availability is contingent on grant review and approvals by FTA, ODOT hopes to make funds available to our Section 5311 sub-recipients by late May.  

Section 5307 Urbanized Area Formula Grants and Section 5311(c) Public Transportation on Indian Reservations Formula Grants will both be administered directly between the FTA and direct recipients. We encourage direct recipients to work with their FTA contacts for details on the obligation and timing of disbursement of these funds.

Administered by ODOT:

Section 5311 Formula Grants for Rural Areas: $42,686,023

Directly Administered between FTA and Recipients:

Section 5307 Urbanized Area Formula Grants:

  • Large Urban:
    • Portland: $176,302,899[i]
    • Eugene: $25,533,427
    • Salem: $15,668,434
  • Small Urban:
    • Albany: $2,815,285
    • Bend: $3,871,978
    • Corvallis: $7,354,971
    • Grants Pass: $2,300,237
    • Longview, WA-OR: $136,724[ii]
    • Medford: $7,711,666
    • Walla-Walla, WA-OR: $647,389[iii]

5311(c) Public Transportation on Indian Reservations Formula Grants:

  • Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians: $65,472
  • Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon: $103,788
  • Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation: $469,532
  • Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs: $69,237
  • Klamath Tribes: $99,520

Additionally, the FTA released an updated FAQ about CARES Act funding, that is available at: https://www.transit.dot.gov/frequently-asked-questions-fta-grantees-regarding-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19#CARES

Resources

American Public Transportation Association:  https://www.apta.com/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.coronavirus.gov/

FTA:  https://www.transit.dot.gov/coronavirus

National RTAP:  http://nationalrtap.org/Resource-Center/Advanced-Search/fid/1082

ODOT COVID-19 Page:  https://www.oregon.gov/odot/pages/incident.aspx

ODOT PTD COVID-19 Page:  https://www.oregon.gov/odot/RPTD/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx

Tax Foundation: https://files.taxfoundation.org/20200325223111/FINAL-FINAL-CARES-ACT.pdf

[i] This is the Oregon portion of the Portland/Vancouver Metropolitan Area allocation.

[ii] This is the Oregon portion of the bi-state urbanized area allocation.

[iii] This is the Oregon portion of the bi-state urbanized area allocation.


March 30, 2020

In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, most Oregon transit providers are adjusting their services and schedules frequently, and quickly.  Under an ODOT agreement for GTFS creation and maintenance, our vendor – Trillium Solutions - is ready to help agencies update service and schedule disruptions in Google Maps and other trip planning apps.  (There are no new costs for transit providers.)

Trillium will quickly post temporary service changes to your GTFS feeds to ensure your riders are getting current and accurate information.  Additionally, they have offered to post Service Alerts which can flag routes that are now operating reduced, or no, service.  For providers who are not currently purchasing this service, there are no additional costs.

Please send your current schedule, and all future changes, to support@trilliumtransit.com so Trillium can distribute your service changes as soon as possible.  Please also continue to send additional updates as you make them.

*ODOT contracts directly with Trillium Solutions to maintain and update GTFS for Oregon transit providers.

Please contact Sarah Hackett with any questions (503-986-6579 or sarah.i.hackett@odot.state.or.us.)



March 27, 2020

First and foremost, thank you for your efforts to keep your staff and passengers safe as you connect people to critical services. And thank you for your patience as we work to stay current and share information.

In case you missed them, here are some highlights from last week with the most recent information listed and linked to first:

  • The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides new Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Section 5307 and 5311 funding to assist providers during the COVID-19 pandemic, was signed into law on Friday, March 27. See ODOT Public Transportation Division’s latest communication on distributing these funds here.
  • U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao recently announced that the deadlines for several FTA competitive grant programs will be extended by 30 days. The Extension applies to grant programs with active FTA Notices of Funding Opportunities and includes:
  • The Public Transportation Division’s COVID 19 page now includes two sets of Frequently Asked Questions, one for public transportation providers and one for passengers. This information is available to use when responding to inquiries from the public, elected officials, or staff.


March 17, 2020

On March 13, 2020, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced increased flexibility to help transit agencies respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) in states where the Governor has declared an emergency. Since Oregon’s Governor has declared a state of emergency, these measures apply to transit agencies in the state.

Expanded eligibility for federal assistance during this time includes allowing subrecipients of Section 5311 Formula Grants for Rural Areas and Section 5307 Urbanized Area Formula Program funding to use operating funds for COVID-19-related expenses “…to protect the health and safety of their riders and their workforce”. Eligible activities include:

“. . . emergency protective measures to eliminate or lessen threats to public health and safety, such as cleaning/sanitizing of rolling stock, stations, bus shelters, etc.; placing hand sanitizer dispensers in high traffic areas; and providing personal protective equipment as appropriate.” Source: FTA

Additionally, the announcement allows all transit providers in states where the Governor has declared an emergency related to COVID-19 to use their federal formula funds for operating expenses in addition to capital expenses and permits operating expenses to be covered at an 80 percent federal share rather than 50 percent.

Note: The ODOT Public Transportation Division (PTD) is clarifying with FTA whether transit providers may use the sliding scale rate of 89.73 percent rather than the stated 80 percent rate in the announcement. We will update this guidance as we receive that clarification.

Furthermore, 5307 and 5311 recipients are eligible to request temporary relief from specific federal requirements under 49 U.S.C. Chapter 53 as well as any non-statutory FTA requirements and detailed instructions can be found on the regulations web page.

Some examples of requirements that could be temporarily relieved in response to this emergency include expansion of the use of transit assets to respond to the emergency outside of the FTA definition of incidental use (e.g., delivering food to housebound individuals) or public notices of scheduled changes.

In response to this announcement, RPTD is taking steps to make the more favorable match rate available to our subrecipients and gathering information regarding possible waivers.

More detailed information about both of these items is included in the full communication document.


March 13, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions from FTA Grantees Regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

These FAQs provide clarity regarding how COVID-19 preparations impact certain FTA requirements. They also contain recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help grantees and subgrantees prepare for COVID-19.

As part of our effort to support a coordinated DOT approach to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), FTA has created a FTAresponse@dot.gov email account to receive all stakeholder questions on the topic.


March 12, 2020

State of Oregon - Updated Mitigation Measures on Coronavirus Response

Pursuant to directives from Governor Brown, the State of Oregon is issuing the following guidance, with the primary goal of slowing transmission of the coronavirus in Oregon in order to protect the most vulnerable Oregonians, and to protect our state’s health care system capacity. This guidance follows updated guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released March 10, 2020, and the World Health Organization’s designation of COVID-19 as a global pandemic on March 11, 2020.

Transit-related Recommendations

Individuals and entities providing transit services are recommended to:

  • Post or play reminders to stay home when sick;
  • Encourage individual to travel only when essential;
  • Avoid crowding, and encourage social distancing;
  • Increase cleaning.
Ride shares are encouraged to clean regularly and have windows down, when
possible.

Here is the full updated mitigation measures on Coronavirus response.


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