Updated March 23, 2:30 pm
Vineyard Transit Authority is instituting changes to how riders board the bus.
Effective Sunday, March 22, the VTA is asking passengers to board at the rear of the bus. Seniors and those with disabilities can continue to use the front-door ramp, according to the VTA.
“As COVID-19 continues to spread, we feel this is a necessary step to protect both our frontline employees and riders,” the notice states.
Jason Chalifoux, a VTA bus operator, wrote in a post on the Islanders Talk Facebook page that while he has been critical of the VTA and the drivers’ parent company, Transit Connection Inc. (TCI), he wanted to praise the transit authority’s efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19.
“Several weeks before the first case of the virus on the Island was confirmed, the VTA bought a fogger (to disinfect the buses), and were putting it to use on every bus in service at the end of every shift. They made sure each bus was stocked with sani-wipes, drivers had latex gloves, (common practice year-round, not just during this pandemic) and they also installed sanitizer dispensers on every bus for the drivers and the passengers to use,” Chalifoux wrote.
He added that the VTA was quick to implement rear-loading on its buses, and thanked the operators for continuing to drive.
“I would like to give a shout-out to our bus operators, who are often overlooked. They are out there on the frontlines risking their lives to help get the Island’s essential workers where they need to be. They bring the nurses, grocery store clerks, and gas station attendants to work in order to help you get the essentials you need,” he wrote.
Anyone with questions is asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-693-9440, ext. 3.
Updated with Jason Chalifoux’s comments. –Ed.