Blue bus and driver

Isolation shuttle is new service for students

Friday, November 20, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – For Penn State students who must relocate to COVID-19 quarantine or isolation at University Park, University Transportation Services, Housing and Residence Life collaborated earlier this semester to organize a safe and socially distanced shuttle service, which will continue in the spring.

The shuttle service uses Penn State Blue Buses to pick up students from designated locations around campus and transport them to temporary isolation housing at Eastview Terrace. Use of the service is by appointment only and is requested through the Residence Life Quarantine/Isolation Concierge Service Desk, which then provides students with a specific pickup time for the closest available shuttle stop and coordinates the pickup schedule with Fleet drivers from Transportation Services.

Transportation Services has implemented multiple measures designed to keep shuttle drivers and passengers safe. While each Blue Bus can carry up to 44 passengers, to maintain social distancing, the maximum capacity for quarantine transportation is seven, with only one or two passengers riding on average. Buses are sanitized between each trip and drivers wear a face mask and gloves and maintain social distancing protocols with passengers. Upon pickup, student information is verified by drivers outside of the shuttle, after which students board with their belongings and find seating as far away from the driver and other passengers as possible. The driver boards the bus after all students have loaded and then transports them to Eastview Terrace.

After students have completed their quarantine or isolation period and are no longer infectious, they can use CATA’s Blue Loop, Red Link or Green Link or one of the Campus Shuttle routes to return to their residence.

With increased remote working and University travel restrictions, Transportation Services has seen a significant decrease in Fleet vehicle rentals and driver services trips since the onset of the pandemic and has sought to find new opportunities to serve the University community. Earlier this semester, Fleet drivers provided transport for Altoona campus students to off-campus isolation housing, which sparked the idea to implement a similar model for the transport of isolating and quarantining students at University Park, especially with colder and inclement weather on the horizon.

“Transportation was a need identified early in the development of the quarantine and isolation program,” said Mark Rameker, director of Residence Life. “We appreciate the collaboration with our partners at Housing and Transportation Services to make this service happen.”

Rob DeMayo, director of Transportation Services, hopes that the shuttle service eases some of the stress faced by students who must isolate or quarantine.

“Being required to quarantine or isolate is an unexpected and disruptive event in a student’s life,” DeMayo said. “It’s our hope that knowing that safe and reliable transportation is available has eased some of the stress faced by these students as they take the necessary precautions to keep themselves and others safe.”

Fall semester student isolation shuttle service will continue through Friday, Nov. 20, and resume again with the start of the spring semester. University departments in need of transportation services may visit fleet.psu.edu, email [email protected] or call 814-865-7571 for more information and to discuss available options.