b'PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGESSafety first during COVID-19A t the beginning of 2020, the Anchorage Public Transportation Department waswrappingupayear-and-a-halfpublicprocessresultinginthe2020 transitplancalledTransitontheMove.Theplanbuiltuponasystem overhaul in 2017 that reversed the downward trend of ridership and contains the com-munitys prioritized answers to the question, What should come next? And thenthe virus that changed our lives. COVID-19 necessitated preventative measures in transit operations across the globe as concerns emerged over rider and bus-operator safety. In the United States, transit centers were closed, rider limits were put in place, routes were halted and some transit agencies ran weekend schedules on weekdays or suspended service altogether. The best advice to slow the community spread of COVID-19 is be-havioral in nature: wash your hands, wear a face mask, and stay at least six feet away from anyone outside of your household. 1 That last one is problematic for full capacity public transportation. The concerns over using public transportation led many riders with alternative means of transport to self-isolate themselves from the ser-vice and led some transit agencies to experience a shortage of available workforce due to these same concerns for personal safety. Yet still, even withtheseconcerns,manypeoplemustrely on public transportation to take essential trips throughout their day. The real threat of using public transportation has not been quantified. Some studies link the inevitability of subway transport to the outbreak of the virus that ensued in New York City. 2 Other articles cite papers in other countries that have conducted analyses that CHRISTINE SCHUETTE is the do not link COVID-19 clusters to the use of public transportation. They Senior Transportation Planner and also tout the necessary benefits of public transportation to the economy, Public Involvement Coordinator the transport of essential workers and to the climate. 3with AMATS. OUR LOCAL RESPONSEOn March 17, the Anchorage Public Transportation Department shut down the Downtown Transit Center lobby in response to the threat of COVID-19 and established enhanced cleaning protocols on the buses. 20 |UrbanStreets Anchorage'