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Bay Area Transit is Renewed and Ready

August 19, 2020 09:00 AM

Agencies launch "Riding Together: Bay Area Healthy Transit Plan"


Bay Area transit agencies are uniting with the common goal of providing a safe ride for the public as the region responds to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The core of this effort is the newly released “Riding Together: Bay Area Healthy Transit Plan.”  The plan outlines action items for frequent cleaning, personal protective equipment, face coverings, social distancing, ventilation, and touchless fares.

As riders return to public transportation, surveys show that passengers want to be assured steps have been taken to provide a safe ride. With that in mind, transit operators in the nine Bay Area counties have established common commitments based upon the industry’s best health-related practices to strengthen trust in riding public transportation. These commitments are also based on information from the California Department of Public Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.

In addition to serving as a tool for public transit agencies on various safety initiatives, the plan makes a call for action to riders. Face coverings are required by state mandate and anyone riding public transit in the Bay Area must wear one and customers should spread out and practice good hand hygiene. Also, anyone who is sick should continue to avoid transit.

The implementation of mitigation steps is based on best practices from peer agencies across the globe. 

Health and safety action items to protect riders include:

  • Face coverings: Remind riders that masks are required, and transit providers have the right to refuse anyone without a face covering. Some transit operators will provide face coverings as capabilities allow.
  • Physical distancing: Communicate importance of social distancing to riders and manage capacity to achieve the three-feet social distancing minimum requirement with face coverings. 
  • Hand hygiene: Provide information if hand-washing stations or hand sanitizer dispensers are available to customers.
  • Quiet ride: Launch the “Quiet Ride” campaign to ask riders to minimize talking, singing, or other verbal activities that might facilitate the spread of COVID-19. 
  • Cleaning and disinfecting: Clean and disinfect in-service vehicles daily with an emphasis on high touch areas. Use EPA- “List N” disinfectants with an elevated focus on vehicles that may have carried an infected rider. 
  • Ventilation: Maximize fresh air on vehicles and facilities based on ventilation options.  Confirm maintenance on ventilation equipment and ensure systems offer peak performance. 
  • Touchless fares: Public outreach to encourage use of Clipper card for fare payments.
  • Paratransit: A greater focus on cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in paratransit vehicles as riders with disabilities can have heightened vulnerabilities due to underlying health conditions, and more likely to be exempt from the face-covering requirement.

Keeping transit employees safe is critical for the successful operation of the Bay Area’s transportation network. The plan includes standards for agencies to protect their workers:

  • Wellness Assessment: Develop and implement a COVID-19 assessment protocol for employees prior to accessing transit facilities or vehicles.
  • PPE: Supply workers with Personal Protective Equipment including face masks (unless exempt).  Perform job hazard analysis to identify potential exposure possibilities.
  • Physical distancing: Determine common space capacities, stagger work hours, encourage eating outside and other social distancing tactics.
  • Testing: Workers deemed essential have been given priority testing. Encourage workers to stay home if they feel sick.
  • COVID-positive employees: Record which employees are in facilities at any time and notify workers if they’ve possibly been exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus.

Later this year, in coordination with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the agencies will announce a unified communications campaign, to build confidence for current passengers as well as those returning to transit.

More about the Plan:

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission formed a 30-member Blue Ribbon Transit Recovery Task Force that has worked with the Bay Area’s local public transit agencies to develop the Riding Together Plan. Agency collaboration included, large, small, and multimodal providers. Additionally, transit providers engaged with and received insightful input from paratransit partners, county health officials and labor representatives to create the plan. The Bay Area’s transit operators are united and ready to team up with riders to work through this challenging time.

The plan is available at A dashboard to report individual metrics will be added soon.

Transit Leader Quotes:

“BART and its transit partners are fighting this pandemic on every front. Our trains, stations, and employees are ready to welcome back riders with reliable and safe service and to win back the confidence of the tens of thousands of people who relied on BART before the pandemic.”  Bob Powers, BART General Manager

“AC Transit’s renewal of service plan is developed on a foundation that protects the health and viability of our essential transit service,” said Michael Hursh, AC Transit General Manager. “It’s an onboard safety plan so robust, we can nimbly apply the identical frontline employee protocols to our passengers, so that each may seamlessly manage their return to work, school, and other life-sustaining services on transit.”

“During these difficult times, our agencies have rolled up our sleeves and met extraordinary challenges with great creativity and dedication,” said VTA General Manager/CEO and APTA Chair Nuria Fernandez. “We have doubled down on measures that protect the safety and health of transit employees and transit riders and are working extremely hard to show customers that we are safe, clean and consistent in our mission to provide mobility solutions for everyone.”

“Economic recovery can't happen without transit. And transit doesn't work if our passengers and operators don't feel safe,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin. “The SFMTA’s Transportation Recovery Plan uses the latest international data and best practices to support San Francisco’s economic recovery by providing more essential trips, protecting the health and safety of our employees and customers, and serving those who are most dependent on transit.”

“Golden Gate Transit and Ferry are committed to keeping the public and our employees safe through this pandemic,” said Denis Mulligan, General Manager of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway & Transportation District. “Whether you travel by bus, boat, or train, this new health and safety plan means you can return to transit with confidence. We’re proud to be a part of this regional collaboration to get the Bay Area moving safely again.”

“It has never been more critical for our respective agencies to come together and collaborate with a common goal of preserving safe, reliable public transit for those who need it most,” said San Mateo County Transit District General Manager/CEO Jim Hartnett. “While COVID-19 presents much uncertainty, it remains a constant that the regional economy cannot sustainably rely solely on single-occupancy vehicles.”

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