BART puts small businesses to work on the railroad during pandemic

Written by RT&S Staff
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BART is giving small businesses a chance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is taking unprecedented steps to increase the opportunities available to small businesses during the coronavirus outbreak, helping to continue essential construction projects and keeping small business employees on the job and drawing a paycheck. 

“We are actively soliciting as many small businesses as possible to help us with essential work that has to be done,” said Fei Liu, of BART’s Office of Civil Rights. “Some people say a large organization like BART, it can be bureaucratic. COVID-19 has forced us to be more flexible and innovative.” 

VSCE President Jesus Vargas is an industry leader who last week was part of a Construction Management Association of America webinar offering advice on steps to mitigate the COVID-19 crisis. VSCE’s 35 employees are working for transit agencies including BART, where they are providing construction management and other services under the prime contractor Parsons Transportation Group. Vargas’ employees work on escalator canopies, rail grinder delivery oversight, communication-based train control and many other BART projects.

“During COVID-19 many long-term projects are still underway,” Vargas said. “They’re deemed essential. BART has made accommodations for our staff to work safely on those projects. There’s a huge relief that our employees can continue to have their income to support their families. We’re proud to be part of the essential work force that keeps the mobility of the Bay Area going. There’s a great deal of empowerment in that.” 

BART’s Small Business Support Services group held two webinars in March and April to help prepare small businesses for virtual networking sessions; more than 150 people attended the webinars. Talk included how to use best practices for teleconferencing and techniques for delivering an effective five-minute pitch to potential prime contractors.

 To learn more about how BART is helping small businesses keep working during these uncertain times, read the full story here

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