A rare display of bipartisanship occurred in Congress recently as seven Democrats and seven Republicans signed a letter to Ron Batory, Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration and K. Jane Williams, Acting Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration advising them to include safety and health recommendations provided railroad unions as the FRA and FTA work to develop their protocols for addressing the coronavirus. U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Arizona) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania) authored the letter.

The letter said “Our transit and rail workers are essential to the health, safety, security and transport of people within and between our communities along with the transport of critical goods and freight across the country. It is important that steps are taken to mitigate the spread of the virus within the workforce, minimize exposure while workers are performing their duties and ensure sufficient staffing.”

The representatives added “As you work to identify additional measures to protect these essential transportation workers, we ask that you consider and give full and fair consideration to the recommendations SMART-TD outlined in its petitions for worker protection and sanitation standards to protect against the virus.”

The recommendations from the rail unions, specifically the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLE-T) and SMART-TD (Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, Transportation – Transportation Division) offer a wide-ranging plan to provide a clean and safe environment for rail workers.