COVID-19 Updates: Shuttle-UM

Published July 22, 2020
Updated September 14, 2020

We're looking forward to welcoming you aboard Shuttle-UM this fall semester! We have taken many steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus for our passengers and drivers:

We also invite you to view our Shuttle-UM COVID-19 FAQs (updated Sept. 14). 

If you have a concern or observe a bus that needs attention, we urge you to contact us at 301-314-3687 (DOTS). 

Shuttle-UM bus with face covering requirement message

    We have implemented new procedures and requirements for the health of all those aboard Shuttle-UM:

    • Passengers and drivers must wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth while on board. 
       
    • Enter and exit the bus through the rear door only. University ID checks have been suspended until further notice.  Only passengers who require the use of the lift/ramp or securement in the ADA accessible areas can board through the front door. The driver will wear gloves and a full face shield over and cloth face covering when assisting passengers with securements and front door boarding.  
       
    • Whenever possible, practice physical distancing on the bus. 
       
    • Stay behind the barrier at the front of the bus that separates the driver compartment from passenger seating.
       
    • Please direct your questions to customer service at 301-314-3687 (DOTS), rather than the driver. While our drivers enjoy interacting with passengers, this important measure limits exposure between those on board and facilitates physical distancing. 
       
    • Stay home if you feel sick.

    PHYSICAL DISTANCING ACCOMMODATIONS

    Bus operators may bypass bus stops if the vehicle cannot safely accommodate additional passengers while allowing for physical distancing. In these instances, the head signs will say “Bus Full.” Buses will stop only to allow those on board to exit.

    NITE Ride’s service capacity will temporarily be limited to one passenger or one party per trip. This means that, once NITE Ride picks up you and other members of your party, you will go directly to your requested destination. The driver will not stop to pick up other passengers.

    Schedule and Route Modifications (Updated Sept. 10)

    Some of our routes will pause during off-peak hours and/or run on an abbreviated schedule. Passengers should know that routes may not appear on the NextBUS tracker during off-peak pauses. These modifications allow for increased cleaning and limit the number of drivers using a single vehicle.

    NITE Ride will stop at any location within the full NITE Ride service area between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. The service area will no longer be restricted to select locations from 5:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.

    The paratransit service area has also expanded, now serving locations along existing Shuttle-UM routes. Paratransit passengers who use a wheelchair or scooter and live within the Shuttle-UM service area may now schedule paratransit trips to campus instead of taking our transit buses. Pick-up and drop-off locations must be within the Shuttle-UM service area, not to exceed a 10-mile radius from campus. More details. 

    We are contracting a vendor to provide a daily, enhanced interior cleaning of all Shuttle-UM passenger vehicles, including our transit buses, vans and SUVs. The vendor follows the CDC’s guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting non-emergency transport vehicles, and only uses products that appear on the CDC’s list of disinfectants for use against COVID-19. We have also implemented standard best practices in ventilation on our buses.

    Barriers will separate drivers from passengers. A chain will block off the driver compartment from transit buses where rear door boarding only is required.  For vehicles that do not allow for rear door boarding, the driver compartment will be equipped with a clear protective barrier.

    Am I required to wear a face covering while riding Shuttle-UM?
    Yes. Everyone aboard Shuttle-UM must wear a face covering. It should cover your nose and mouth. 

    What should I do if I see someone on the bus who is not wearing a face covering
    Passengers should follow the procedures shared in this message to campus, which explains how students, faculty and staff can hold each other accountable for adhering to 4 Maryland behaviors.

    Why have DOTS drivers been instructed to not enforce the face-covering requirement on Shuttle-UM buses? 
    This guideline is intended to help staff avoid situations where they may feel obliged to confront passengers and thereby put themselves at risk. It is also in keeping with many industry peers such as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) and Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), which both prohibit their staff from enforcing face covering requirements for the purpose of avoiding potentially unsafe confrontations between staff and passengers. 

    However, if any driver feels unsafe picking up, transporting or working around anyone else because that person is not wearing a face covering, they are not compelled to do so.  Longstanding Shuttle-UM driver policies indicate that drivers have the last say as to whether or not the bus is safe to operate, and prohibit any activity that limits the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely or affects the safety of the passengers. These policies apply to any situation where an employee believes that their safety is compromised due to the failure of anyone to follow the required campus guidelines in response to COVID-19.

    Have there been any modifications to Shuttle-UM schedules routes?
    Yes. Our routes will operate on modified schedules to limit the number of drivers using a single vehicle and to allow for increased cleaning. 

    Has DOTS made any changes to their Shuttle-UM cleaning practices?
    Yes. We are contracting a vendor to provide a daily, enhanced interior cleaning of all Shuttle-UM passenger vehicles, including our transit buses, vans and SUVs. See more about our equipment and cleaning enhancements.

    What should riders do if they have concerns or observe a bus that needs attention?
    If you have a concern or observe a bus that needs attention, we urge you to contact us at 301-314-3687 (DOTS)

    Do you have signs in buses about preventing the spread of coronavirus at UMD?
    Yes, posters are located in all of our buses reminding passengers of how to prevent the spread of infection, including wearing a face covering, frequent hand washing, maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet, and staying home if you feel sick. 

    What precautions will DOTS take to protect drivers from infection?
    Our precautions that apply to passenger health, such as rear door boarding, enhanced cleaning, and the barrier between the driver and passengers, also protect our drivers. DOTS has made additional precautions for our drivers:

    • Drivers have been informed that they should not undertake enforcement actions related to the face-covering requirement onboard Shuttle-UM vehicles. This guideline is intended to help staff avoid situations where they may feel obliged to confront passengers and thereby put themselves at risk.
       

    • Longstanding driver policies indicate that drivers have the last say as to whether or not the bus is safe to operate, and prohibit any activity that limits the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely or affects the safety of the passengers. These policies apply to any situation where an employee believes that their safety is compromised due to the failure of anyone to follow the required campus guidelines in response to COVID-19. If any driver feels unsafe picking up, transporting or working around anyone else because that person is not wearing a face covering, they are not compelled to do so.
       

    • We have provided drivers with face coverings, which they are required to wear while driving and any other time they are in the company of others.
       
    • All drivers have received training, approved through the university’s Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk, for preventing the spread of coronavirus.
       
    • Shuttle-UM internal operations have been adjusted to limit the number of drivers using a single vehicle and allow for physical distancing in shared break spaces.
       
    • Shuttle-UM headquarters will see increased cleaning, the installation of disinfecting stations and protective covering stations (wipes, gloves, face coverings, etc.), and new policies and procedures on self-cleaning of personal areas and items.