PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- SEPTA is now partnering with Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium to provide free testing for employees.
Employees of the transportation system said the opportunity to receive free testing isn't only giving them additional options, but also a peace of mind.
Testing began Thursday morning at Fern Rock Transportation Center and SEPTA employee Heidi Challese was first in line.
"I think it's a great opportunity. During these uncertain times the more information we have, the better we are to fight what's going on," Challese said.
The Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium is running the SEPTA's testing operation.
"Three pillars: access, empathy and action," said Dr. Ala Stanford of Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium
They've been using that action plan to test nearly 6,000 people for free so far across Philadelphia, and are now working with SEPTA in their first business partnership.
SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards took a moment to remember the seven employees who lost their lives to the coronavirus by leading a moment of silence before testing began.
"Right now I'd just like to keep them in our hearts," Richards said.
Richards said 288 of the nearly 10,000 SEPTA employees have tested positive.
"We are thrilled that over 60% have fully recovered and are back with us now every single day doing the hard work and being on the frontlines," Richards said.
More people are now riding the public transportation system as restrictions are lifted in the region.
Face coverings are also required for entry.
"This is the sixth largest transportation system in the United States and it's the nucleus of the economy in Southeastern Pennsylvania," said City Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker.
"Our employees are out there on the front line every day and that's why it's important they can have the security of knowing they can get a test if they need a test," said Kenneth Lawrence Jr., SEPTA Board Vice Chairman.
In addition to the SEPTA testing, the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium will continue testing people for free throughout Philadelphia.
SEPTA employees receiving free COVID-19 tests through Black Doctors Consortium