MTA New York City Transit today announced it is installing an innovative barrier across 4,800 local buses and 1,000 express buses to further enhance bus operator safety during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Installation of a full-length vinyl curtain on express buses will start this week and is expected to be completed by mid-August. Local buses will be equipped with either a polycarbonate slider or a vinyl sheeting curtain, which will fully protect bus operators when passengers board.
The installation of new barriers across the fleet is expected to be completed by the fall. The MTA will resume front door boarding on all buses in August.
“The new barriers are part of our commitment to continuously protect bus operators when performing their heroic work of keeping this city moving,” said Sarah Feinberg, Interim President of New York City Transit. “We continue to disinfect buses around the clock, require all customers and employees to wear masks, and these new short-term solution barriers ensure we are doing everything possible to protect employees and riders.”
“This is one of the many innovative solutions we are implementing to keep bus operators safe as more customers make their way back onto buses,” said Craig Cipriano, Senior Vice President for Buses of MTA New York City Transit and President of the MTA Bus Company. “Together with our union partners, we continue to do everything we can to keep employees and customers safe during the pandemic.”
Starting this week, the MTA is installing a full-length vinyl sliding curtain on 1,000 express buses to isolate the bus operator when passengers board. Upon boarding, the operator will slide it forward and then push it back once they are ready to proceed driving forward. Express bus customers will continue to board through the front door, but will not be permitted to sit in the first row of the bus to ensure a safe distance is kept from the bus operator.
Additionally, on certain local buses, a full-length polycarbonate slider is being installed by the operator’s compartment. The MTA is installing a second prototype on other local buses – a full-length vinyl curtain – which the bus operator can slide back and forth when passengers board. The Department of Buses Engineering Department worked with manufacturers to develop these specific and immediate solutions to protect heroic frontline employees.
Rear door boarding was implemented March 23 on local buses to protect all frontline employees from the spread of COVID-19. The new barriers will protect bus operators as front door boarding resumes. As these barriers are installed, the vinyl protective curtain separating the front of the bus will come down, allowing added capacity buses and more room to ensure passengers are able to socially distance from one another.
Bus ridership surpassed 1 million for the first time since the pandemic started on Friday, June 19 with ridership of 1,035,200. Bus ridership on Monday, June 29, 2020, was 1,083,976. The MTA’s average weekday bus ridership in 2019 was 2.2 million. For daily ridership numbers, please visit here.
During New York City’s Phase 2, bus service levels are operating at regular weekday/closed school service levels in all boroughs.
Across all agencies, the MTA has distributed 3.8 million masks, 6 million pairs of gloves, 37,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, 122,000 small hand sanitizer bottles, 3.5 million individual sanitizing cleaning wipes, 125,000 gallons of cleaning solution and 9,000 face shields.
A face covering is required for all employees and customers while riding on public transit.