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LA County Transit Authority joins agencies promoting health safety

Will follow guidance from health experts

OW Staff Writer | 9/11/2020, midnight

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Metrolink joined 100 transit agencies across the nation this week  to commit to specific safety measures as riders return amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Transit agencies pledged to adhere to the American Public Transportation Association's Health and Safety Commitments Program.

“This commitment is much more than just words. We intend to put intent into practice as we work to come out from under this pandemic stronger than ever in our efforts to move people safely around Los Angeles County,'' Metro CEO Phillip Washington said. “But we can't do it alone. It requires a partnership with our riders and a similar commitment to helping keep everyone safe and healthy as we work to get through this situation.''

Under the APTA's national program, transit agencies are expected to commit to: 

—Following official guidance on safe riding practices from health experts and agencies; 

—Protecting riders through cleaning, disinfecting, good ventilation, providing room for social distancing when practical, the use of face coverings and other methods; 

—Sharing information that will empower riders to make informed choices; and 

—Ensuring transit workers and passengers are healthy.

The commitment comes as part of APTA's Mobility Recovery and Restoration Task Force, which is chaired by Washington and charged with providing senior public transit leaders strategies and tactical solutions that can help protect riders and agency employees from COVID-19, as well as help with future pandemic preparedness, Metro stated.

“The Metrolink Board approved signing on to APTA's Health and Safety Commitments Program pledge to give riders and employees the utmost confidence that we not only have the highest safety standards but will continue to support, learn and improve safety efforts through a national coalition that matches our already considerable commitment,'' Metrolink CEO Stephanie Wiggins said.

As part of this campaign, transit agencies will also ask riders to do their part by wearing face coverings (which are already required), social distance as much as possible, follow best health practices and avoid transit when not feeling well.

Metro said transit agencies and their customers across the nation are facing unprecedented challenges due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Despite those challenges, riders have begun to return to transit, with Metro currently up to 55 percent of its normal ridership, compared with about 31 percent in April.

Metro said its buses and trains are cleaned on a daily basis, which includes vacuuming, trash removal, sweeping and mopping, cleaning the panels and using EPA-approved disinfectants that can kill germs beyond their immediate application.

The transit agencies said they are coordinating with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on riding guidelines.