When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit back in March, Simon Chen, Co-Founder of Eight Black Executive Transport, had a decision to make. He could suspend operations and send everyone home or think quickly and adapt.
Anyone who knows Chen could predict what came next.
His company runs a daily shuttle service between Longmont, Colorado and Denver International Airport. Operations have been running as usual since the outbreak began, and they haven’t slowed down yet.
Longmont Shuttle provides a dependable, cost-effective, high-value shuttle service to and from DIA. They’ve been dedicated to the highest safety standards since the company’s inception in 2017. Having to pivot to address the new reality of COVID-19 came quite naturally to Chen. He immediately understood what needed to be done.
While his market is primarily leisure travellers—seniors, families and college students—he knew many were out of state simply trying to get home or needed to travel to help family in other parts of the country. He vowed to do everything he could from a health and safety perspective, and to be there for anyone who needed help. He even reduced his pricing.
“We’re a family-owned business, we’re a part of the community, my kids go to school here,”
says Chen. “I made a decision when the pandemic hit and the world turned upside down. We’ve still got to help people get to the airport; it’s the last option for some.”
Immediately he sprang into action. The company partnered with a local hotel that had boxes of toilet paper; Chen bought up their supply and offered it free to whomever needed it, giving away 300 rolls in 90 minutes. The shuttle service delivered groceries, offered free prescription pick-ups and drove essential service workers to and from work.
“We just showed up. Many days we would take one person at a time. You can never make money on $45 a day but I didn’t really care. You have to do the right thing by the community,” he says.
At every step they maintained a strict focus on health and safety. Sneeze guards were installed in all of the vans, separating the driver from the cabin. Passenger temperatures are checked prior to boarding using infrared thermometers. All passengers are required to wear a mask and masks are provided if needed. Hand sanitizer is available on board.
Drivers report their temperature prior to their shifts and wear masks and gloves; their health and wellbeing is monitored daily. Shuttle capacity is limited to four people, unless a family is traveling together. Chen invested in state-of-the-art HEPA filtration systems for each Sprinter van to ensure air quality in the cabin environment is the best it can be; they filter cabin air up to eight times an hour and remove 99.9% of all bacteria. All vehicles are disinfected twice daily with a commercial grade anti-microbial spray, and everything is wiped down with disinfectant wipes after each run.
The company’s attention to safety is nothing new. For years they’ve been meticulous about their all-Mercedes shuttle fleet—even allowing customers to inspect their service records. In the colder months, every vehicle is equipped with top-of-the-line Nokkian or Blizzak winter tires. There’s a fire extinguisher and a defibrillator on board every van and drivers must pass a first aid course every year.
Chen is also a firm believer in keeping things local and supporting fellow businesses. Everything they use is sourced from local vendors, from the branded sanitizers and face masks to the tires on his vehicles.
He believes there are two sorts of people in a crisis. “I was just never raised to run away from anything. As a transportation service we’re considered an essential service. For a lot of people that are pensioners, singles, who have compromised immune systems or who don’t have friends or family nearby, they needed us. Taking a limo is out of reach, RTD bus service takes three hours and there’s no taxi service in Longmont,” he explains.
Because of the company’s longstanding dedication to health and safety, the leap to cope with COVID-19 simply wasn’t that great. It was more a question of approach.
“The pandemic was a defining moment,” says Chen. “I saw an opportunity for us to do the right thing, be involved, help out. I have a sense of duty to the community. It’s just the right thing to do.”
For friendly and safe door-to-door service, book Longmont Shuttle online or call 720-223-5474.
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