In an historic move, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) added the for-hire transportation industry to its list of “essential critical infrastructure workers,” a vital designation for fleet operators amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The designation comes after The Transportation Alliance sent an urgent letter to DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf last week.
“Mr. Secretary, in order for us to fight this invisible threat, all private sector transportation companies are at your disposal,” TTA President Thomas P. Arrighi wrote in his March 25 letter. “Each vehicle represents an essential piece of equipment in our nation’s toolbox as we work together to end this deadly virus.”
This is the first time the private sector, for-hire transportation industry has been explicitly named as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure at the federal level. Specifically, the newly added provisions cover:
- Employees supporting personal and commercial transportation services — including taxis, delivery services, vehicle rental services, bicycle maintenance and car-sharing services, and transportation network providers.
- Bus drivers and workers who provide or support intercity, commuter, and charter bus service in support of other essential services or functions.
“We are grateful to Secretary Wolf and his team for this extremely important designation,” President Arrighi said. “To see such swift action means that our affiliated drivers, employees, and teams will be on the street when America needs us most.”
The industry’s enormous array of transportation services in the U.S. is especially vital during the COVID-19 crisis. It includes non-emergency medical transportation for low-income Americans to life-saving medical appointments such as dialysis and chemotherapy; transportation of healthcare workers to hospitals during reduced public transit options; delivery of meals for low-income students; grocery trips for Americans living in food deserts; ADA-compliant vehicle trips for people who use wheelchairs; and numerous other services.