Coronavirus Pandemic: How to Use Public Transportation Safely


The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everyday life, from shopping to working to connecting with others. Mass transit is different now, too. Public transportation agencies have taken steps to minimize risk to passengers. Here’s what you need to know to keep yourself safe while riding buses and trains during the coronavirus outbreak.

Is it safe to use public transportation amid the coronavirus outbreak?

New measures are in place to reduce your exposure to germs while riding public transportation.

Less contact with people

The less contact you have with people, the less likely you are to be exposed to the coronavirus. Some mass transit agencies are trying to reduce crowding by:

  • Allowing only one passenger per row and only sitting passengers in every other row
  • Increasing service on busy routes
  • Limiting the number of passengers on board

These efforts make it easier to maintain six feet of distance from others, which is what public health experts recommend.

To further eliminate unnecessary interactions, buses are requiring rear door boarding and exiting. That way, you and the driver won’t come into contact. Plexiglass panels also separate the passengers from the driver.

More disinfecting

Mass transit agencies are thoroughly cleaning buses and train cars with products that kill germs, such as bleach or ultraviolet light. High-touch areas including handrails, fare boxes and seat backs are cleaned at least once a day.

There’s more cleaning taking place at transit stations as well. You may also find newly installed hand sanitizer stations aboard or at major stops.

How can I protect myself from coronavirus exposure on public transportation?

Reduce your exposure to germs on public transportation by:

  • Avoiding eating or drinking while riding public transportation
  • Giving yourself extra time in case you need to wait for a less crowded bus or train car
  • Keeping personal belongings from touching the ground, seats or other surfaces
  • Paying your fare through a no-contact method such as on a website or via an app
  • Traveling during non-peak hours to avoid crowds
  • Using disposable gloves or a tissue to grab handrails or hand poles

Practice infection prevention

It’s important to continue following infection-prevention strategies. Take the same steps you would when you go anywhere in public, including:

  • Wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Washing your hands with soap and water immediately after leaving the public space or using hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol

And remember to stay home if you have even mild symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Learn what to do if you think you have COVID-19. Also, stay up to date with the latest coronavirus information from UCLA Health.