Auburn’s Tiger Transit service makes adjustments for safety during pandemic

Published: October 09, 2020
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Students and employees taking a ride on Auburn’s Tiger Transit service this fall have likely noticed several new safety protocols in place amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The most obvious change is the requirement of a mask for all who board. To step foot on the bus riders must also present a “green screen” passport on their phone that signifies completion of the university’s required GuideSafe daily healthcheck screener and approval to attend campus based on their health status.

“Safety is the highest priority at transit services,” said Kelsey Prather, communication and marketing specialist for Transportation Services at Auburn, adding that the green passport requirement “is one measure that we think is going to make sure that all students and passengers have a safe trip to campus.”

Prather said transit drivers must also periodically wipe down high-touch areas in the buses.

“This could be guard rails. This could be the back of seats. Anything that somebody would touch. In addition to the high touchpoint areas, we are having drivers at the end of their shift completely clean the buses thoroughly once they are done for the day. This is to ensure when buses do come back to campus that they are 100 percent clean for the next day of service.”

Hand sanitizer is being offered on all buses, and students are asked to maintain six feet of distance from one another while riding. In addition to that, a plastic barrier has been installed in between the driver and passengers.

“We encourage students to ask drivers any questions, but we do have a clear barrier up so student can still approach the drivers while maintaining safety,” Prather said.

Since Tiger Transit resumed services with the start of the fall semester, it has offered the same number of routes. For those who used Tiger Transit in the past and might have concerns about doing so this year, Prather has a message.

“If I was a parent or anybody that was concerned for a loved one here on campus, I would like to reassure them that we have changed a lot of what we would consider typical protocols,” she said. “We want to ensure that safety is always being met and exceeded because we don’t want to have a situation where we would have to compromise any of our personal core values when it comes to safety.”

Looking forward, Prather said there is much to be excited about involving the future of Tiger Transit, with 10 new electric hybrid buses coming on board next fall. Those buses will result in reduced carbon dioxide emissions and will be fully electric powered while operating on campus and will have a programmed “engine shut down” while idling.

“They’re going to be completely different,” she said. “So, they won’t have that idling loud, diesel sound that you hear right now—the traditional bus sound. In the future, we will have a green option as well as an option that has two door exits so you can enter through one door and exit out a side door to help students exit the bus in a little bit quicker manner than the all-in, all-out method that we are using now. So, we’re really excited about the future.”

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.