DETROIT - In an added measure to protect public transportation employees, the city of Detroit is offering free face masks to any riders taking city buses.
The Detroit Department of Transportation is providing 20,000 surgical masks to riders through dispensers placed at the back of the fleet. DDOT is requesting all riders wear the face masks following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending anyone in public wear protection.
"We ask every single rider if you don't have a mask before you get on the bus, please take one," said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan during a daily press conference on Tuesday. "We have to care for and protect our neighbors. One of my biggest issues is the busses and we are taking this measure to protect both the drivers and those who ride the bus."
Because a closure of city buses was not an option, Detroit instead is taking active measures to protect the staff that operate them. Anyone that is riding the buses will enter from the back as to avoid coming in contact with the driver.
While DDOT bus drivers may not be seen as frontline workers in the battle against COVID-19, that doesn't mean they still aren't threatened by the disease. Last week, an employee who had been complaining about a rider coughing died due to complications related to coronavirus.
Contrary to past recommendations made by health officials, the CDC also says you can reuse your face masks.
"Also recommended by the CDC, you don't have to throw your mask away after immediate use. You can wear it again until it's soiled," said Hakim Berry, Chief Operating Officer for Detroit.
Other measures taken by the city to protect its bus drivers include providing free rides to prevent the need for passengers to use the farebox at the front of the bus, prohibiting seating immediately behind the driver, and cleaning the bus at the beginning and end of the line each time the bus completes a trip.