Letter to the Editor: Delaware Transit Co. continues work toward driver and customer safety

Delaware Transit Corporation CEO John Sisson sent the following response to the president of ATU local 842 on Tuesday, March 17.

Kendall,

For many of our customers, DART services are their only means of transportation for essential trips including work, grocery stores, pharmacies, and medical appointments (including dialysis). 

We have been working diligently to make sure we provide these critical services in the safest way possible for our employees and customers. 

During our meeting last Friday, I shared with you that buses were sprayed with vital oxide three weeks ago, and that we had begun spraying the buses again with the intent of getting the entire fleet treated.  In addition to the spray, high touch areas on all buses are disinfected on a nightly basis.

We have provided our operators with gloves and disinfecting wipes, and as discussed, we acknowledge that our supplies are low. However we have been working diligently to get these supplies in for our entire workforce. Additionally, we have also brought in staff to clean our facilities throughout the day.

With regards to facemasks, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), wearing a mask is only needed when you are sick or caring for someone who is sick. While DTC does not see the need to provide staff with face masks, we will allow operators to provide and wear their own masks.

When I heard about the programs to distribute food to school students, I made the decision to offer them free transit rides. For many of these students, the food they receive at school is the only nutritious meal they may receive throughout the day. As a result we made the decision to help where we could to make sure that transportation wasn’t a barrier to getting a good meal. 

Last week I shared with you the Department of Human Resources guidance for Paid Emergency Leave around Covid-19 for State merit employees. While DTC employees do not fall under these rules, we decided it was best to adopt them. 

The guidance says that employees “may be eligible” for up to 14 days of paid leave if they are required to stay at home due to the closure of a school, daycare or eldercare facility.  This is not a blanket option for employees to take off 14 days of work, but rather a way for them to deal with the sudden and unplanned impacts.

Yesterday I was made aware of a situation in which a manager denied the leave for an employee to stay home with their twin juniors in high school. 

While it seems from afar that a junior in high school could most likely take care of themself, I directed staff to allow the leave. If you have any other specific situations where an employee was denied Paid Emergency Leave different than the situation that was resolved yesterday, please bring it to my attention.

DTC has also been monitoring our service levels throughout this process.  We have seen a significant drop in paratransit services and we are working to reduce our fixed route services starting Wednesday, March 18. 

Our employee and customer safety remains our number one priority and we will need to work together to manage this challenging times.

John Sisson
CEO, Delaware Transit Corporation