DHEC Partners with SCDOT, City of Columbia and COMET to Protect Drivers and Riders During the COVID-19 Pandemic
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 5, 2020
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has partnered with the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), and City of Columbia in an effort to better protect those who drive the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (The COMET) buses, and the riders who rely on them for transportation. This is part of a pilot project aimed at increasing education around driver and passenger health and safety.
To help support transit employees, DHEC and SCDOT have provided The COMET with safety kits for drivers, 100 gallons of hand sanitizer, and signs which are placed on each bus outlining safety precautions that every rider should adhere to while on the bus.
“Our bus drivers are valued members of our community and provide vital transportation to many of our residents,” said Myra Reece, DHEC Director of Environmental Affairs. “Through this pilot project, we’re working to enhance safeguards aimed at protecting the health and safety of our drivers and riders. This is particularly important as many of our most vulnerable community members rely on public transportation to get to and from home safely.”
“The South Carolina Department of Transportation was able to secure hand sanitizer early on during the COVID-19 pandemic via local South Carolina distilleries to help meet a great need that has limited supplies,” said SCDOT Secretary Christy Hall. “As part of TEAM South Carolina, SCDOT has partnered with SCDHEC to provide hand sanitizer to guard against the spread of COVID-19 for use in this instance with COMET drivers and ridership. Everyone plays a role to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
DHEC and The COMET encourages all riders to limit travel to essential locations, continue to practice social distancing while riding the bus, use the provided hand sanitizer, and wear a face mask, if possible. This includes a maximum of 20 passengers per bus, and one person per row. The COMET has also implemented rear door boarding.
“COMET drivers are an important human component in our city’s economy, and thus they are essential personnel,” said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin. “At the end of their workday, after making sure our citizens get to and from their jobs safely and on time, they return to their communities and their families. We have a commitment to see to their safety when they are at work and help them by seeing to the safety of their passengers. By protecting our COMET drivers, we are also ensuring the total health of our Columbia community.”
Inter-agency partnerships are essential for the ongoing efforts to stop the spread of this virus, and DHEC relies on those partners to help deliver safety messaging to every member of the community. By assisting the City of Columbia with public health and safety information, DHEC can count on The COMET to share the precautions wherever they travel. The more locations that this messaging is available, the better our prevention efforts will be.
Posters with prevention messaging are available for download here.