Throughout the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, DARTS Transportation Services have continued to “motor” along. Initially the LOOP buses operated on an all-reservation basis, transporting one individual at the time. However, as COVID-19 restrictions are eased in the state, DARTS is increasing the number of riders allowed on the bus at one time. Respective of CDC guidelines, buses have designated seats which allow for proper distancing from other passengers. Drivers wear masks and gloves, and passengers are required to wear face coverings as well.
For those locations not accessible via LOOP routes, individual rides are available for medical (non-COVID) and non-medical appointments. Thanks to funds made available through the Older Americans Act, many rides are offered at a very affordable rate.
For some individuals, taking a trip to the store has not been an option. DARTS responded by offering grocery shopping for those individuals. We act as a go-between for the customer and the online store. When the order is ready, a DARTS bus picks up the groceries and immediately delivers them to the customer. Customers can use a credit card to pay for their groceries when the order is placed or by check when the groceries are delivered. Since the crisis began, DARTS has made more than 45 grocery deliveries.
DARTS is also partnering with local food shelves (Hastings Family Service, 360 Communities and Neighbors, Inc.) by delivering food and essentials to individuals in Dakota County without access to transportation. Additionally, DARTS is delivering NAPS (Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors) boxes to low income seniors in Dakota County. To date, well over 250 deliveries have gone out to those in need.
For their own safety, and that of others, all drivers complete the MN Department of Health Self-Checklist and are temperature checked before starting their shift each day. Buses are routinely disinfected, with particular attention given to common touch points like boarding areas and grab rails.