Gwinnett County Transit bus drivers and other staff members could soon get a one-time $500 bonus in recognition of their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
County commissioners are expected to vote on paying the money, which is described as a “COVID-19 incentive payment” to employees of the county’s transit system “to show appreciation for their loyalty and devotion during the pandemic,” at their meeting on Tuesday.
A total of 188 contracted employees, which includes bus drivers, road supervisors and maintenance technicians are expected to get the one-time payments.
“Transit employees have been doing fundamental work to keep our county moving throughout this pandemic,” Commission Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson said. “We want to express our appreciation and say thank you to all of the transit workers who provide essential mobility services to ensure that residents all over the county can get to work, go to the grocery store and travel to other essential destinations.”
The incentive pay was approved by the Gwinnett Transit Advisory Board on March 3, sending it to the county’s Board of Commissioners for final approval.
The funding for the bonuses will come from a CARES Act grant the county got from the Federal Transit Administration. County officials said the FTA’s CARES Act money is available to counties and other municipalities that run transit agencies as a way to compensate employees whose jobs are considered essential services as well as for workers who “experienced exposure due to elevated risks.”
Gwinnett County Transit transported nearly 780,000 passengers in 2020 on its seven local routes. That is in addition to transporting about 129,000 passengers on its five commuter routes to Atlanta. County officials said those numbers are down from 2019, but added that more than 80% of the transit system’s ridership was maintained, even during the pandemic.
Gwinnett Transportation Director Lewis Cooksey praised the work employees of Gwinnett County Transit have done during the pandemic, particularly in the area of passenger safety.
There are 39 local buses, 43 commuter buses and seven paratransit buses maintained, cleaned and operated by Gwinnett County Transit.
“We have implemented a number of measures to protect the health of the drivers, passengers and others,” Cooksey said. “Buses are deep cleaned daily. We are requiring masks, limiting capacity to 20 passengers for commuter buses and 15 passengers for local routes, and we’ve added plastic shields between the driver and the farebox. We also have implemented a program that allows patrons to pay fares using a smartphone. We’re all in this together.”