DASH is celebrating our DASH family of essential transit workers, especially those whose work may be unfamiliar to passengers.
Kevin Hernandez, DASH’s Director of Operations, is one of several faces at DASH who passengers will likely never see in person, but whose daily work directly impacts them. Hernandez oversees day-to-day operations for the agency, including an operations team of more than 200 operators, as well as road supervisors, yard masters and dispatchers that help them keep passengers moving across Alexandria.
“It’s a team effort – dispatch, supervisors, drivers – they come in and continue to provide this essential service because they know their community is counting on them. COVID-19 has changed many things about our industry, but the world doesn’t stop and neither does transit,” said Hernandez.
One of the most intense changes to DASH’s day-to-day operations were the schedule adjustments in response to extreme changes in ridership levels during the pandemic. Hernandez’s team also collects and tracks daily ridership data, which they use to inform policies.
“Due to lower ridership levels and the need to maintain the safety and wellbeing of our passengers and operators, we have adjusted our internal definition of what a ‘full bus’ means,” said Hernandez.
Together with DASH’s planning department, the operations team analyzes peak points in ridership to better deploy strategic buses around the city to prepare for any potential crowding on buses. Lower ridership levels have translated into reduced service, which has made it possible to re-purpose driving staff in new ways that can better benefit the bus system with additional support in areas that were lacking pre-COVID. This includes maintaining empty buses staged at various places in the City to help alleviate crowding as necessary.
“At the height of the pandemic, we implemented a new ‘education’ policy in regard to mask wearing for our passengers. We wanted to ensure that we focused on educating passengers about wearing a mask on public transit and not necessarily resorting to denying them entry onto a bus,” said Hernandez.
To support this initiative, each bus is stocked with complimentary masks that the operator can provide to any passenger who forgets theirs or cannot delay their trip to obtain one. Additionally, DASH added various campaigns, including signs and onboard announcements that reinforce this policy to passengers.