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Transit workers in metro Atlanta seek safer conditions

MARTA, Cobb, Gwinnett systems still running during pandemic

ATLANTA — Gwinnett County’s transit system is taking steps to make buses safer – and reportedly avoided a walkout by drivers Thursday. But pandemic-related issues remain at transit systems around metro Atlanta.

Gwinnett County’s transit system has reduced its schedule during the pandemic. They have limited the number of passengers on each bus – and implemented other steps to reduce COVID 19 exposure.

The coronavirus is a risk for both passengers and bus operators. Operators represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union have been in talks with Gwinnett, MARTA and Cobb county’s bus systems to lower those risks.

The union has asked for hazard pay; PPE and other safety gear; requiring masks for passengers; and paid COVID 19 testing for transit workers, among other things.

“What we’re looking for is pandemic leave protection,” said Britt Dunams, the local union president. “We need something so that if they need to take off for this COVID-19, it’ll actually protect them as far as their wages and the benefits.”

The company that operates Gwinnett County’s bus system says some of those requests have been addressed – and that drivers are still getting paid full time while working fewer hours during the state of emergency.

“The health and safety of our employees, and the community we serve, remains our top priority at all times. … Transdev and Gwinnett County Transit have been closely collaborating to address the emerging situation,” the company operating Gwinnett transit told us in a statement.

The union says talks are still ongoing with the company behind Cobb County’s transit system.  MARTA has given its operators one-time bonuses for working during the pandemic.

1Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information.

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