With transit ridership down throughout the San Diego region and across the nation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the North County Transit District (NCTD) has joined the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) “Health and Safety Commitments Program,” reaffirming their commitment to protecting transit rider health and safety along with more than 100 other public transportation agencies.
“Joining APTA’s Health and Safety Commitments Program was a natural fit for NCTD since we are already following many of these core responsibilities. We clean facilities and vehicles daily during layovers, and we require facial coverings for employees and riders. We put the health of our riders and employees first,” said NCTD Board Chair and Encinitas Councilmember Tony Kranz. “With the partnership of APTA and the other agencies across the country, we can strengthen the public’s trust in transit and keep our community thriving.”
The core health and safety principles of the APTA program were developed based on a nationwide survey, which identified four key focus areas important to transit riders during COVID-19:
- Creating and following policies based on official public health guidelines;
- Cleaning and disinfecting transit vehicles frequently and requiring face coverings and other protections;
- Sharing information with passengers about safest times and routes to ride and respecting rider space and social distance; and
- Requiring riders and employees to avoid public transit if they have been exposed to COVID-19 or feel ill.
A key component of the Health and Safety Commitments Program is the shared responsibility between NCTD and riders to follow all health and safety guidelines. Riders rely on NCTD to follow these commitments, and NCTD relies on riders to protect themselves, other riders, and NCTD employees. To that end, riders are encouraged to remember the following requirements while riding with NCTD:
- Face Coverings: All passengers are required to wear face coverings while using NCTD services. Face coverings must cover the rider’s nose and mouth and must always be worn when riding transit and on transit property. Masks (purchased or homemade) may include bandanas, scarves, and neck gaiters. Complimentary face masks may also be found on NCTD buses and trains.
- Rear Boarding: Rear door boarding remains in effect for all BREEZE buses, which requires bus riders to enter and exit through the rear door of the vehicle. Senior and ADA passengers are allowed to enter and exit through the front door as normal. Bus operator protective barriers are being installed on all buses. It is expected that these will be in place by the end of the year, and at that time front door boarding will resume.
- Social Distancing: Practice social distancing measures when possible and respect fellow riders’ space.
The APTA Health and Safety Commitments Program underscores the importance of transit to the recovery of our nation and our local communities and takes a long-term outlook to garnering the trust of current and future riders.
“This program is a commitment that the transit industry is making to all those we serve now and to those who we look forward to serving,” said Nuria Fernandez, APTA Chair and General Manager and CEO of Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. “Public transportation is and will be vital to the social and economic recovery of our nation. But getting there requires us to win back our ridership and encourage new riders to view public transit as a preferred mobility choice. We believe this commitment program will help accomplish this goal.”