NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — House members examined Tuesday how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted transportation workers, including truck drivers, flight attendants and transit operators.
While these industries have received billions in relief from Congress, their employees still face the threat of layoffs or furloughs because many Americans are still too scared to travel.
“I feel a sense of duty to my community to keep our transit system running,” Tom Shaw, a Pennsylvania bus driver, told the House Transportation Committee.
As the coronavirus forced much of the country to grind to a halt, transportation workers like Shaw kept the economy moving but at a cost.
“These ongoing problems have resulted in high infection rates for public transportation workers,” said Shaw.
Shaw and other workers told lawmakers they need more personal protective equipment, like masks and gloves, and cleaning supplies to protect themselves and their passengers.
Susannah Carr, a United Airlines flight attendant, said just like federal safety regulations require passengers to wear seat belts, there must be clear federal health standards for air travel.
“Wearing a mask should be no different,” Carr said. “The traveling public needs to feel confident that they are safe to travel and be aware of the changes made for their safety.”
Shaw wants the same for transit operators and passengers, and Randy Guillot, the chairman of the American Trucking Associations, reiterated their concerns.
When Rep. Rick Crawford, R-AR, asked Guillot what his industry, “the driving engines of our economy,” needed from Congress moving forward, Guillot said a bipartisan infrastructure bill.
“Roads and bridges are not Democrat or Republican,” Guillot said. “We all drive on them.”
The committee plans to use the witnesses’ testimony to inform the next and possibly final round of coronavirus relief as the U.S. continues its road to recovery.
Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.