How Nashville transit leaders are uniting to ensure essential workers and goods are protected
“Transit is essential.” That’s the message printed on the masks that Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee (TAMT) gave to community leaders participating in the Alliance’s recent training opportunities. And that’s the message the Transit Alliance is hammering home right now, as we’re nearing the end of a year that’s seen more disruptive changes than most of us can remember in our lifetimes (and our parents’ lifetimes).
Jessica Dauphin, President and CEO of TAMT, well understands the challenges facing public transit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dauphin ordered masks branded with #TransitIsEssential to share with various organizations the Transit Alliance partners with to educate, empower and mobilize local neighborhood leaders.
“In light of so much change throughout 2020,” said Dauphin, “I find that transit has been the one thing that has remained steady and reliable. Public transit has continued to connect our communities’ essential workforce to their jobs.”
Seven long months have passed since the pandemic created a paradigm shift in our personal and communal habits. Now with talk of potential vaccines being ready to deploy as early as December 2020, many of us are starting to believe we can see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. But we’re also starting to realize that the new norms we’ve grown accustomed to may be here to stay – at least in part.
One new reality we’re hoping will stick: Our deep awareness that essential workers and goods must be protected and safely transported to where they’re needed most.
That means the new thinking and innovations related to safety and transit we adopted during the pandemic will need to be continued going forward. Some of those changes related specifically to transit include:
1) More aggressively cleaned/maintained high-touch hard surfaces of trains, buses, vehicles, etc., more mask-wearing, and more social distancing to give passengers peace of mind that face-to-face transit is safer than ever.
2) More cashless fares and zero fares to reduce the high cost and slow onboarding times associated with collecting, counting and depositing fares, printing passes and queuing at fareboxes. (On March 1, 2020, Luxembourg became the first country in the world to make all public transport free.)
3) More bus-only lanes and transit signal priority to increase efficiency in congested central business districts during rush hour. (New York City and Chicago are two of many US cities who rolled out more bus-only lanes in 2020.)
4) More federal funding for transit that underscores that public transportation really is an essential service (not a social program or low-income offering). (The third US federal stimulus package is the most Washington has ever provided in a single year to public transit agencies.)
We at Unity PPE hope these changes are just the beginning of ensuring safe transit for our essential workers and goods here in Nashville and around the world.
As a Nashville-based, woman-owned startup, we’re happy to be able to connect people and products – namely public transit supporters with protective masks for a safer commute!
About the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee
TAMT is a nonprofit organization. Since 2009, TAMT has been working to build support for funding regional transit by mobilizing community leadership by educating and empowering communities to efficiently and effectively make policy decisions that serve their local purpose and fit within the context of the region. Two great ways to connect with and learn with the TAMT are through the Transit Citizen Leadership Academy and the Neighborhood Transit Institute.
About Unity PPE
Unity PPE is a Nashville-based, woman-owned startup. Our commitment goes beyond masks to the people those masks protect: the stranger you walk past on your way to work, the server at your favorite cafe, the cashier at your corner grocery. Unity PPE exists to put the “personal” back in “Personal Protective Equipment.” Born in the 2020 pandemic, Unity is committed to a safer, service-centered world. Our products and services help people protect themselves and their communities. Join us! Because a community needs UNITY! Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org