Public transportation

Updated May 19, 2021.

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Student rides bus while wearing mask and physically distancing

Agencies or individuals providing public transportation, including rideshares and taxis, should follow this guidance to protect themselves, passengers, and employees from COVID-19.

  • Transit agencies may consider modifications to service, prioritizing routes that serve medical facilities, employment center, food, and lifeline services.
  • In emergencies, transportation providers may prioritize the immediate safety, transportation, and sheltering needs of riders and staff when in conflict with these guidelines.

Physical distancing and ventilation

  • Limit vehicle capacity to 50% of posted seated capacity. Operators and passengers should ensure 6 feet of physical distance between non-household groups to the greatest extent possible. These limits may be temporarily exceeded in instances where a person with a disability needs an accommodation, where a transit vehicle is required for an emergency situation, or to prevent a risk to life or safety.
  • To create distance between passengers, consider:
    • Blocking off seats or portions of vehicles to allow at least one seat or row between individuals from different households; or
    • Skipping stops when vehicles are at capacity.
  • To create distance between passengers and drivers, consider:
    • Blocking off the first one or two seats immediately behind or beside the driver’s seat;
    • Having passengers board through rear doors, if available;
    • If riders must enter through a front door, having the driver stand outside during boarding; or
    • For taxis and rideshares, having passengers use only the back seat.
  • When possible, open windows -- one on each side of the vehicle -- to maximize ventilation. 
  • Post signs reminding passengers that physical distancing requirements apply to public transport.
  • Post signs informing customers that they can opt in to Exposure Notifications so they may be alerted more quickly in the event they are exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.

For employees and drivers

  • Require all employees and drivers to wear masks.
  • Ensure employees maintain physical distance by staying at least 6 feet away from other employees and passengers. 
  • Educate employees on how to protect themselves at work and at home and on who is at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Post signs reminding employees to avoid touching their eyes, noses, and mouths and to practice proper sneezing and cough etiquette. [English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Vietnamese, Somali].
  • Have ample supplies of hand sanitizer for your employees and passengers.
  • Enable drivers and employees to avoid handling money, if possible.
    • Consider wearing disposable gloves if you must collect money from passengers. Use one pair of gloves per customer and throw them away after each use. 
  • Prioritize providing appropriate gloves, masks, face shields, and other personal protective equipment to employees to the extent possible. 
  • Consider maintaining a record of riders in case there is a COVID-19 exposure and other passengers need to be notified.

Sick or exposed employees

  • Transportation providers who are sick should stay home and notify their supervisor, if applicable. Those who have COVID-19 symptoms should follow the directions for isolation and seek medical attention if needed.
  • Employees who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 should stay home, self-quarantine, and monitor themselves for symptoms. Employees who think or know they have been exposed should get tested as soon as possible if they develop symptoms. Employees who don’t have symptoms should wait 7 days from when they think they were exposed to get tested. 
  • Employers should consider screening employees, including taking their temperatures, when they report to work. Ask them if they have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with anyone exhibiting these symptoms. If they answer “yes” to any of the screening questions, send them home and advise them to follow the directions for quarantine (if potentially exposed) or isolation (if sick or positive). Be sure to maintain employee confidentiality at all times.
  • Employees who are sick or symptomatic may be eligible to return to work when:*
    • At least 24 hours have passed since fever has resolved without fever-reducing medications,
    • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared, and
    • COVID-19 symptoms have improved.

For passengers

  • Require all riders age 2 and older to wear a mask.
  • Advise the public that they should avoid public transit if they are sick, positive for COVID-19, or if they think or know they have been exposed to COVID-19. 
  • Adhere to physical distancing guidelines regarding spacing between passengers. 
  • Follow guidance from operators. They are critical workers who should be regarded with utmost concern for their health and safety during this challenging time.

Cleaning and disinfection

The most common way COVID-19 spreads is through respiratory droplets during close contact with someone who already is infected. It also may be possible to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose, or possibly your eyes. Frequently cleaning and disinfecting surfaces is a best practice for preventing COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. 

  • Cleaning means removing germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection. Cleaning is typically performed using soap, detergents, cleansers, and water.
  • Disinfecting means using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. By killing germs on a surface after cleaning, disinfecting can further lower the risk of spreading infection. Disinfecting is typically performed using approved commercial or household disinfecting solutions.
To clean and disinfect public transportation vehicles:
  • Refer to CDPHE’s Environmental Cleaning Guidance for COVID-19.
  • Wear chemical (for example, nitrile) gloves when cleaning and disinfecting. 
  • Clean and disinfect vehicles and equipment surfaces before operation and at the end of shift, or more frequently if passengers appear to be sick.
  • Use an approved disinfectant after cleaning.
  • Clean and disinfect all commonly touched surfaces used to access and control the vehicle, including:
    • Door handles and grab bars;
    • Interior door handles and surrounding surfaces;
    • Steering wheel, center console, and radio microphone;
    • Fare boxes;
    • Instrument panels, gear shifts, and control knobs and devices;
    • Keys, keybobs, and fuel cards;
    • Seat belts and buckles; and
    • All other devices used during your shift.
  • Wash hands with soap and warm water after cleaning for a minimum of 20 seconds.