Bay Area’s public transit agencies say they’re safe in the COVID era

Transit agencies from around the Bay Area are highlighting the steps they are taking to make sure trains and buses are sanitized and ready for when passengers return. Those agencies are taking steps they say are necessary for their survival.

Transit agencies around the Bay Area banded together with one mission, convincing riders that public transit is safe in the era of COVID-19. Jeffery Tumlin from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency says they've followed the science, and public transit is as safe as anywhere else when it comes to coronavirus.

"Among our peers there have been zero cases of documented Covid transmission on public transit," said Tumlin. "Here at the SFMTA we are finding the same thing."

Transit agencies including Muni, BART and AC Transit highlighted physical changes like adding Plexiglass to protect operators and passengers and cleaning and sanitizing operations with a focus on high touch areas. "The customers were leaving because they were in part afraid to ride on public transit," said AC Transit General Manager Michael Hursch. "That uncertainty is our call to action and why we are here today."

The transit agencies say passengers must do their part as well. "This plan sets out the expectation that customers, all customers independent of systems must wear a mask and remain at least three feet and optimally six feet apart," said BART General Manager Bob Powers.

Transit agencies are uniformly reporting lower ridership and a decrease in fares and revenue, and say they know they have to act now. "One, all of us are in a fight for our lives with funding as we move forward and two we are all unified with this plan to get transit back on it's feet in the Bay Area," said Powers.

Transit operators say their continued existence is more important than ever with essential workers relying on them to get to their jobs.