MTS now requiring all passengers to wear face coverings on buses and trolleys

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The Metropolitan Transit System announced the addition of a new tool in the fight against coronavirus Friday — disinfecting fog.

Additionally, the agency is now requiring daily temperature checks for hundreds of bus and trolley operators, and is now offering one-way fares on its mobile ticketing app, Compass Cloud.

“We will continue adopting measures to improve protections for our employees, essential workers and riders taking essential trips,” said Paul Jablonski, MTS chief executive officer. “Strict sanitizing protocols and early detection for this virus are key to slowing the spread. We will keep improving on both these fronts.”

In addition to daily cleaning with disinfectants, buses will be fogged with a CDC-approved substance that kills COVID-19 (and other viruses) on contact. The small devices evenly spray a fine mist of chloride dioxide solution throughout each bus’s interior. The fog can decontaminate hard-to- reach locations and fabric seats, leaving more time for professional cleaners to sanitize areas more frequently touched by passengers, a MTS statement said.

The substance also decontaminates air-conditioning filters. The fogging process takes just minutes. All buses will be fogged every other day and more often if necessary after more materials become available. Many buses are cleaned mid-day before returning to service for the evening commute, as well as the regular daily cleanings.

On Wednesday, MTS began checking bus and trolley operator temperatures prior to starting a shift. Fevers are one of the primary symptoms of coronavirus.

MTS is conducting temperature checks on approximately 500 bus and trolley operators daily, as well as administrative employees. Temperature stations have been set up at bus divisions on Imperial Avenue, Kearny Mesa and the Mills Building, in East Village. Employees with temperatures of 100 degrees or higher will be required to go home.

MTS Manager of Public Relations, Mark Olson, joined KUSI’s Good Morning San Diego via Skype to discuss the new requirement.

MTS supplied KUSI News with the following information detailing the face covering mandate:

To comply with the latest health order changes by the County of San Diego related to coronavirus, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System will require all passengers to wear face coverings while using the transit system beginning Friday, May 1. This includes on vehicles, at transit centers and at bus stops.  

“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.”  
Over the course of this week, MTS is asking that passengers become familiar with face coverings and the agency will be educating passengers and operators on what is acceptable. Basic rules include:

• Face coverings must be worn at all times when riding transit
• Face coverings must cover the rider’s nose and mouth
• Per the County of San Diego website, face coverings include: masks (purchased or homemade), bandanas, scarves and neck gaiters
• Passengers can view the California face covering guidance webpage for more information
• Passengers can view the CDC guidelines for making and using a homemade face covering.

Violations of the County of San Diego’s health order could result in a misdemeanor and fine up to $1,000 or six months in prison according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
Since California’s stay-at-home order was issued in March to slow the spread of coronavirus, MTS has implemented strict sanitizing procedures on all vehicles and at stations. Additionally, strategies have been implemented to help with social distancing. Highlights include:
• Rear-door boarding:
o Only allow passenger boarding from the rear door on buses to increase distance between passengers and the bus operator
• Social distancing:
o Kept service levels at 75 percent even when ridership has declined by 65 percent to help passengers practice social distancing on vehicles
o Increased the distance separating passengers from the bus operator to six feet.
o Posted social distancing messaging on all electronic signage and at Trolley stations
• Employee protection:
o Provided every bus and Trolley operator with hand sanitizer, gloves and masks
o For security personnel checking fares on Trolleys, all inspections are done on station platforms instead of onboard Trolleys. Visual inspection of fares is also allowed
• Sanitizing efforts:
o All MTS vehicles are cleaned daily, with additional deep cleanings using bleach to disinfect, and other solutions recommended by CDC
o Disinfectant is used to wipe down exposed surfaces nightly
o Posted personal hygiene rules on vehicles
o Established handwashing stations at all Trolley stops
o Increased daily cleanings on the internal and external surfaces of trolleys and at major transit stops

MTS continues to operate about 95 bus routes and three Trolley lines. Frequencies and spans have been modified temporarily due to COVID-19. Updated schedules can be accessed on the MTS website. MTS asks that only essential trips be made on public transit, that people wear face coverings and practice physical distancing at all times.


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