Supporting commuters returning to worksites during COVID-19 (from the Association for Commuter Transportation)

The global pandemic brought on by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has had profound impacts on business operations. With public health authorities recommending physical distancing to reduce the spread of the virus, businesses across all sectors implemented emergency measures to protect their employees’ health and adhere to local laws. For many businesses, this meant a complete closure of onsite operations and shifting employees from their worksites to their home, while a wide range of essential workers continued commuting.

As communities move forward with reopening their worksites, employees and employers will again need to address the challenge of commuting to and from work. While just 7% of US employers offered the option of telework prior to the pandemic, it is anticipated that many companies will continue to encourage some, if not all of their employees to work from home, at least part time, for the foreseeable future. However, many workers will need to return to their worksite, and there is a real possibility that personal health concerns could motivate commuters to drive alone, causing crippling congestion and wreaking havoc on air quality.

The Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) has developed recommendations to inform employers, commuters, and communities on how we can all get back to the workplace safely and efficiently. Prepared by a task force of transportation demand management (TDM) professionals representing service providers, employers, and government agencies, this handbook provides tips for managing many of the most common commute options during the current pandemic. TDM is the act of creating the most efficient multimodal transportation system that moves people with the goal of reducing congestion, improving air quality, and stimulating economic activity. TDM goals should be prioritized in the return to the workplace, balanced with concerns for personal health and welfare.

First and foremost, businesses should base all decisions on how and when to return to work on the guidance of local public health officials and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). It is anticipated that new recommendations will continue to be developed as lessons are learned, so we encourage you to keep up to date from those sources. Second,
employers should continue to allow work-from-home eligible employees to do so. This will free up capacity within the transportation network and allow a safer and quicker commute for essential workers and others that are unable to work from home.
As your worksite and/or community begins to develop plans to return to the workplace, start by assessing the situation based on workplace geography, the specific needs of your commuters, the available infrastructure at your facilities (transit access, parking, bike racks, sidewalks, etc.), and if it is even necessary to return employees to the physical office or continue to allow them to work from home, so you can make the most appropriate decisions when reopening.
These recommendations will present tips and guidance specific to each mode, but there are common suggestions for employers, service providers, and commuters—no matter the mode.
Public Health & Safety:
  • Stay Home If You Are Sick: If you are not feeling well, it's best to either take a sick day or work from home. Always follow the advice of your doctor.
  • Maintain Physical Distancing: Keep 6 feet or 2 meters apart from others to slow the spread of germs when possible.
  • Follow Health and Safety Guidelines: Follow and communicate the World Health Organizations (WHO), CDC, and local state and county guidelines to ensure safe commuting.
  • Protect Yourself & Others: Protective equipment should be provided to drivers, and maks and/or face coverings should be worn by all commuters.
  • Follow Cleaning Standards: All employers and service providers should share with the public and their customers their practices and procedures for safe cleaning of the workplace, common spaces, and vehicles (bus, train, shuttle, vanpool, carpool, etc.).
  • Communicate: Keep in touch with employers and employees. Inform them of what is happening, and how you can help them return to the workplace safely.

Support Employees by Providing:

  • Fringe Benefits: Implement or continue to provide qualified transportation fringe benefits to employers to reduce out of pocket expenses for public transit and vanpooliang.
  • High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Parking: Provide preferential parking for carpools and vanpools.
  • Guaranteed Ride Home: Provide access to a Gauranteed/Emergency Ride Home program to ensure all employees not driving alone can get home in the event of an emergency or schedule change.
  • Commute Assistance: Work with a local, regional, or state commuter services organization or Transportation Management Association/Organization (TMA/TMO) to provide commute planning assistance to employees.

Assess Interactions & Exposure Opportunities:

  • Payment Method: Seek wasy to eliminate or minimize the need for physical payment or validation (employee passes, etc.) on board in favor of digital methods such as mobile payment or bookings.
  • Incentive Program: Implement incentive program to increase engagement of employees to use non-SOV options.
  • Contact Tracing: Being able to track the interactions of commuters, to know who travels with whom, is an important option to consider.
  • Pre-booking: Consider demand responsive services in combination with pre-booking/reservations as a way of managing capacity to social distancing requirements and improving service efficiency.

Download the complte guide for Tips for Employers, Tips for Organizers/Providers, and Tips for Commuters related to carpools, parking, public transportation, shuttles, telework/telcommute, and vanpools.


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Source: Association for Commuter Transportation