In order to align its policies with San Diego County public health orders, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System will require all passengers to wear face coverings beginning Friday, May 1.
Passengers must wear face coverings on vehicles and at transit centers and bus stops, the MTS said. Adequate face coverings include purchased or homemade masks, bandanas, scarves and neck gaiters.
Bus and Trolley operators are already provided with hand sanitizer, gloves and masks. Passengers also board from the rear doors on buses to increase the distance between them and the operators.
Violations of the county's health order could result in a misdemeanor and a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in prison, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
“Our number one priority is the safety of our passengers and frontline employees. Face coverings are a proven approach to slowing the spread of coronavirus,” said Paul Jablonski, MTS chief executive officer. “We want to ensure we are doing everything we can to offer safe, essential trips in a sanitized environment. Face coverings are another step in that direction.”
While public transportation is considered an essential service under a public order for the state of California, because of decreases in ridership, many services have had to make adjustments. Here's where the transportation options available to San Diego County residents stand:
Buses, Trolleys and Rails
The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) continues to operate its buses and trolleys on a modified schedule as they say ridership has decreased by 65 percent.
MTS is operating about 95 bus routes and three Trolley lines. Frequencies and spans have been modified temporarily due to COVID-19. Click here for the latest changes from the MTS.
Click here for the latest route changes from the North County Transit District (NCTD). In addition to Breeze bus changes, the Coaster system is also limiting services due to a decrease in ridership, NCTD said. Weekend Coaster service is suspended while the weekday coaster service will operate on a temporary schedule.
Coaster riders can also utilize the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner when riding in San Diego County, though the service will also be limited. For the current Surfliner schedule, visit here.
When to Ride
While the majority of transportation services will continue, MTS spokesperson Mark Olson said that riders should only use the service only for essential functions like going to the grocery store or to pick up prescription medication.
Both NCTD and MTS urged passengers not to use public transportation services if they were feeling ill unless it was absolutely necessary after consulting with a medical professional.
A decrease in ridership is allowing for social distancing on public transportation, according to MTS. Buses and Trolleys are being monitored to ensure social distancing is utilized amid the outbreak.
Lyft and Uber shared a similar message and urged riders to stay at home if they were feeling sick. Riders were asked to wash their hands before and after their rides, to sit in the back and open the window where possible.
Both Uber and Lyft have halted shared rides to comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) six feet of social distancing rule.
Are Transportation Services Clean?
Both MTS and NCTD ensure riders that extra precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of their riders. For the efforts being taken by NCTD, click here, and for what MTS is doing to keep transportation services clean, click here.
Transportation operators have been informed about safety measures and have been provided with personal protective equipment, MTS said.
MTS will still have security checking for tickets but from a safe distance on platforms to ensure social distancing in an open space. Officers will still be present on trains to help provide security.
Lyft and Uber said they are partnering with health officials to ensure riders and drivers are COVID-19-free. Accounts will be temporarily suspended for any rider or driver who is reported to have COVID-19 from public health authorities. It was not disclosed how cases would be reported to the rideshare services.