To address concerns around COVID-19, Rocky View Regional Handibus Society – otherwise known as Rocky View Bus – is taking steps to ensure it can continue to offer transportation to residents of Airdrie, Cochrane, Chestermere, Crossfield, Irricana, Beiseker and Rocky View County (RVC).
Because of the pandemic, executive director Paul Siller said more than 80 per cent of Rocky View Bus trips have been cancelled. However, many passengers still need to get to medical appointments or the grocery store, he said, and increased measures have been implemented to limit the spread of the virus on the bus.
Those measures include increased cleaning and sanitizing on the buses, according to Siller. Buses are now being fully cleaned twice a week, and disinfectant wipes are being used on “common hard surfaces” like door handles and seat belt buckles multiple times daily.
“We’ve ramped it up, and we still can ramp it up even further if we need to,” he said.
On the bus, passengers are being seated as far apart as possible when rides are shared, Siller said.
“We haven’t had to consciously limit the number of people going on to a bus, because, with the number of cancellations, it’s kind of happened organically,” he said.
While the current outbreak is unprecedented, Siller said extensive cleaning measures have always been in place for the Rocky View Bus because of passengers’ susceptibility to all types of illnesses.
Still, the society is cognizant that it primarily serves people who are most at risk when it comes to COVID-19 – seniors and the immunosuppressed.
“That is driving us to be a little more careful with everything,” he said.
Passengers also have an important role to play in Rocky View Bus’ smooth and safe operations during this time, Siller said.
“We’re asking passengers to double and triple check that their program or appointment is still going and not cancelled,” he said.
With frequent cancellations now occurring due to the pandemic, Siller is asking all passengers to be flexible and patient with any unexpected changes to their scheduled pickup.
“We get a lot of last-minute cancellations, which disrupts our scheduling, so then we end up showing up at someone’s door 20 minutes early,” he said. “It can be frustrating for folks who were expecting us in this time slot, and then we show up in that time slot.”
Other guidelines being widely recommended should be followed, he added, like practicing proper hand washing and good hygiene, and staying home if sick to reduce the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus.
If the pandemic continues to escalate, Siller said, there is a chance operations could be suspended altogether.
“It’s possible, but it’s a last resort,” he said.
As with most non-profit organizations, Siller said, resources for the Rocky View Bus were scarce before the outbreak. Now, things are especially challenging, with its biggest fundraising campaign now on hold.
Siller said donations, which can be made through rockyviewbus.ca/donate.htm, will be especially welcome at this time. The organization will also accept any donations of industrial-grade cleaning supplies to ensure the sanitation of the buses.
As the situation with COVID-19 continues to rapidly evolve, Siller said passengers can stay updated by visiting rockyviewbus.ca. The organization is also creating an email list to keep people informed about any changes.
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