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The Challenge of COVID Measures for Transit in Border Communities


SCRTD Passengers COVID
Passengers aboard a South Central Regional Transit District vehicle (N.M.)

Prepared by a Task Force of the Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and South West Transit Associations

Overview

Over the last five-plus years, many U.S. communities along the Mexican border have been responding to the Mexican and Central American humanitarian crises. This surge in immigrants seeking to enter the U.S. has allowed approximately one dozen public transit providers in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to play key roles in assisting newly arriving immigrants. These roles include providing access to support services, securing lodging and/or housing and connecting with intercity travel options to reach families and loved ones beyond these communities. Some agencies have provided hundreds of daily rides to passenger facilities’ drop-off locations for those released by the U.S. Border Patrol, all of this on top of their existing local service operations.

In the wake of COVID-19, transit providers now face the compounding challenge of meeting requirements for safe distancing on vehicles and at their transit centers, along with enforcing mask compliance for customers and staff. It is possible that transit professionals will be serving groups that share high levels of COVID-19 positivity and many may not be tested before their arrival at the transit agency’s locations or prior to boarding vehicles.

Challenges

  • Running testing programs for immigrants not already tested by other entities
  • Providing enough vehicles and operators to provide trips while maintaining proper distancing & mask utilization
  • Operating both indoor and outdoor facilities while ensuring social distancing & mask-wearing
  • Ensuring higher vaccine coverage for all transit personnel in these communities
  • Operating in compliance with policies and regulations established by federal funding programs
  • Securing adequate financial support from funding partners at all levels of government as well as following federal, state and local COVID-19 safety measures that allows for continuation of existing operations while meeting the additional needs of incoming immigrants

Transit providers in border communities appreciate increased awareness and any assistance in addressing these challenges. To communicate with this Task Force, please contact South West Transit Association Executive Director Rich Sampson at rsampson@swta.org or 225.270.0855.

States

Arizona, New Mexico, Texas

Downloads

Transit Border Communities & COVID Measures Overview
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