MTS trolley
An MTS trolley in downtown San Diego. Courtesy MTS

San Diego Metropolitan Transit System earned a national award from the American Public Transportation Association for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was announced Tuesday.

MTS won the Rail Safety & Security Excellence Award for its “CLEAN RIDE” safety campaign started in 2020 with the intent of giving people confidence in the safety of traveling on public transportation.

The Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards “recognize transportation systems that have implemented programs or initiatives that have achieved documented success in addressing specific safety or security program areas,” a statement from the APTA read.

“The pandemic brought an unprecedented amount of adversity, and as an essential service, MTS’ top priority was to ensure that essential workers had safe transportation alternatives,” said Sharon Cooney, CEO of the transportation agency. “We are honored to receive this award and (be) recognized for our hard work and dedication during an extraordinarily difficult time.

“I am proud of our staff who quickly and professionally rose to the occasion to adapt, educate and help our region recover,” Cooney said.

CLEAN RIDE was a public education campaign intended to ensure that the people of San Diego were aware of all the methods MTS took to keep its services “clean, safe and frequent,” an MTS statement read.

Some of MTS’ highlights during the pandemic include:

— Maintaining 96% of service;

— Offering free rides to vaccination sites;

— Increasing existing cleaning procedures with middle-of-the-day cleanings and using new methods to keep the system safe and sanitized for passengers, such as “fogging” entire vehicles with disinfectant;

— Providing on-site COVID-19 testing to all employees and daily health checks; and

— Providing free on-site COVID-19 vaccinations to all employees starting in March.

–City News Service