MTS bus
A San Diego Metropolitan Transit System bus. Photo courtesy MTS

Public transit passengers in San Diego will be required to wear face coverings when on-board busses or trollies, at transit stations and while waiting at bus stops starting Friday, the Metropolitan Transit System said Tuesday.

The mandate for riders is in compliance with the county’s latest public health order on coronavirus protections. MTS Chief Executive Officer Paul Jablonki said the move will help keep passengers and frontline employees healthy.

“Face coverings are a proven approach to slowing the spread of coronavirus,” Jablonski said. “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.”

Acceptable face coverings include masks that have been purchased or homemade, bandanas, scarves and neck gaiters. The face coverings must cover the rider’s nose and mouth, and be worn at all times when using the transit system.

Since last month when the state issued a stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, MTS has stepped up its sanitation protocols, including nightly deep cleanings of all vehicles and installing hand-washing stations at trolley stops. Social distancing strategies have also been put in place, an MTS official said, that include keeping service levels at 75% and implementing read-door boarding.

According to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, violating the health order could result in a misdemeanor and fine up to $1,000 or six months in prison

— Staff report