Congressional panel highlights rural transit leaders' innovation amid COVID-19

The officials on Tuesday told members of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development that they’d quickly scaled up cleaning and COVID-19 mitigation measures last year as the illness bore down on the region and shifted their services to better provide for customers.

And many of those practices could remain in place, they said as transit providers transition out of the pandemic.

U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., who chairs the subcommittee, said she’d teamed up with Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., to help boost transit investments in rural communities and lauded the groups for their resilience during the pandemic.

“It strikes me that as this year has been so devastating to so many Americans, we have seen at the same time really important leaps forward in innovation and trying new things and figuring things out in different ways,” Smith said.

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Across the country, rural transit providers took a hit in ridership during the COVID-19 pandemic, directors told the committee. And company leaders said they pivoted to transporting patients seeking COVID-19 tests or vaccines and

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