U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Don Bacon (R-NE) led a bipartisan contingent of more than 140 lawmakers in seeking federal protections for the nation’s frontline transit workers.

“Our transit workers are out there every day, risking exposure to COVID-19 to provide vital services,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick, noting that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) should require public facilities, including buses and trains, to be disinfected, and enforce safe distancing between riders and transit operators.

“Taking these steps, in addition to current FTA guidance, will better protect our workers,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said on April 15.

Rep. Bacon pointed out that “Congress has a duty to ensure transit agencies and Americans are receiving the proper relief and guidance on how to safely go about their job.”

According to a recent letter that the lawmakers and their colleagues sent to FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams, since the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act became law on March 27, “we have already seen the tragic death of frontline transit workers as a result of the novel coronavirus.”

“Bus drivers, station agents, cleaners, and other frontline transit workers are contracting the virus at a rate much higher than the general public,” the congressmen wrote. “Nationally, at least 60 transit workers have died as a result of COVID-19.”

The lawmakers commended the FTA’s recently updated guidance regarding personal protective equipment and safety protections for transit workers and wrote that the recommendations should be improved upon by making them mandatory during the pandemic.

Additionally, the members suggested that several more actions be taken to align FTA’s guidance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by mandating that buses, trains, streetcars, and worker facilities, including crew rooms, be regularly disinfected; requiring safe distances between riders and transit operators; taking safety precautions to protect transit workers from touching the same digital screen, keyboard or fingerprint-scanning devices; and ensuring frontline workers receive death benefits.

The letter received support from Transport Workers Union International President John Samuelsen and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) International President John Costa.