Posted: Apr. 24, 2020
DART has implemented several extra safety measures as it continues to deal with COVID-19, including stepping up how often its buses and facilities are cleaned, enacting policies to encourage social distancing, and adjusting service to fit ridership and our available workforce. As the pandemic spread, DART looked to buy some protective equipment for employees to use. Like many agencies and organizations, we had a difficult time finding equipment through our usual channels. Thankfully, some local suppliers were able to step up and meet our needs to ensure all employees stay safe and healthy!
Local distillery provides sanitizer
DART reached out to Dehner Distillery in Clive in March after hearing that some local distilleries were beginning to create sanitizer. The Distillery was able to quickly fill a large order for DART, ensuring we had sanitizer to hand out to staff, and had enough to put in higher traffic locations for staff to access at both DART Central Station, and the maintenance facility and bus barn located at 1100 DART Way.
Along with creating sanitizer for DART, Dehner’s Red Fox Sanitizer has been purchased by companies and organizations across the country, including USPS, Tesla, Fareway and HyVee.
Masks and filters
DART also ordered masks for all front-line staff to use but experienced delays in receiving them. After noticing a post on social media, DART was able to contact Gretchen of local fashion brand Gretchen Bohling Designs and put in an order for several hundred masks. Gretchen was able to work quickly, thanks to the help of another local seamstress and designer, Kathy Smith, to craft 200 masks and deliver them to DART. She is currently working with her intern to create another 200 masks for us.
Gretchen says her social media posts have led to several other mask orders for essential employees in the metro but adds that DART has been her largest order so far. She appreciated the experience to create these masks to keep DART employees safe and had the following message of thanks to share. “Thank you for putting yourselves at risk in order to provide our community with the wonderful services you do! Without DART people in our community wouldn't have a way to complete their essential errands and I am so thankful that you all have created a safe and reliable way for them to commute throughout our city.”
The masks Gretchen created for DART allow for a disposable filter to be added in for extra protection. DART was able to purchase filters to use in these masks from a unique source, a retired bus operator. Ernie Stebbins is a former DART operator who now owns a vacuum repair shop. He provided DART with specific vacuum bags which can be used as filters.
Face Coverings for Riders
DART once again looked local to find face coverings to provide riders who don’t have their own mask. G & L Clothing was able to quickly source a supply of bandanas for DART. G & L is a century old retail institution specializing in selling high quality work clothes, shoes and boots in Des Moines.
DART asks that all riders wear a mask or face covering every time they ride. If you need a free face covering, you can request one from security stationed at the south entrance of DART Central Station.
Thank you, G & L Clothing for helping us keep our riders and operators safe. Please help us protect yourself, your driver and other DART riders by wearing a mask or face covering every time you ride.
Barriers on Buses
As DART restores select service to its bus routes, we needed to find ways to improve passenger and operator safety on-board
buses. One of these ways included installing barriers between the operator seat and the farebox. Many other agencies are using hard plastic barricades, but we opted to use a clear, soft-sided vinyl instead. This material is scratch-resistant, much easier and inexpensive to install, and was available to us when we needed it.
DART worked with local company MES Fabrications to design the product. After a prototype was made, it was reviewed by operators and staff who made modifications before final approval. MES Fabrications was able to create this custom product to fit our buses and needs exactly. We ordered over 150 barriers, which are now installed in Fixed Route and Paratransit buses, as well as in supervisor vehicles.
These barriers are necessary as we welcome more riders back to DART. As they board and pay fare beginning July 1, this provides a layer of separation between them and the bus operator. Riders are recommended to wear masks and use hand sanitizer before and after riding DART. They are also encouraged to practice social distancing on-board DART and at DART Central Station.
Thank you, Greater Des Moines region!
DART would like to extend a huge thank you to these local businesses for stepping up to help keep our staff safe as we continue to deal with COVID-19. We appreciate their willingness to quickly source and create the personal protective equipment we needed!
In addition, we’d like to thank our region for its support during these difficult times. Specifically, we are thankful for:
- DART’s Board of Commissioners for working quickly and effectively to allow our employees to implement sweeping service and operational changes to ensure we can protect the health and safety of our employees and riders.
- DART employees for quickly adapting to change while remaining steadfast in their dedication to our region.
- Business and community partners for their support and understanding of the changes we’ve needed to make as we respond to COVID-19.
- Our riders who are only riding DART for essential trips and who are staying home whenever possible, thank you! We miss seeing you on the bus but appreciate your help in flattening the curve.
We look forward to the day when we can safely return to service. In the meantime, we remain committed to safely providing essential transportation to central Iowans and we are able to do so with the help and support from our local community. We truly are better together!