The Orange County Transportation Authority will continue requiring that OC Bus passengers wear face coverings at least through March 18, 2022, in compliance with a federal mandate that was extended, and reinforcing the ongoing effort to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and emerging variants.
OCTA continues to prioritize public health and safety during the pandemic and, since spring 2020, has been distributing masks to passengers who need one as they board an OC Bus. So far, more than 3.5 million masks have been distributed on buses countywide.
“Our top priority at OCTA is the safety of our passengers and our employees,” said OCTA Chairman Andrew Do, also the Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. “Per the new federal mandate, riders will be required to continue wearing a face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 aboard OC Buses.”
For more than a year, OCTA has required passengers and coach operators to wear masks on board, in line with guidance from health officials and following industry best practices. In January 2021, federal regulations went into effect mandating masks on all public transit. Electronic signs on the front of each OC Bus read: “No Mask – No Ride.”
That directive from the Transportation Security Administration for all transportation networks, including public transportation has now been extended through March 18, 2022. The mandate applies to all transportation modes, including OC ACCESS paratransit and OC Flex microtransit service.
Distribution of the face coverings has been made possible with the help of the Federal Transit Administration and the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act.
Even as the number of cases and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 has receded from the height of the pandemic, often with surges in between, OCTA has never wavered from its public safety commitment.
In addition to providing the free face coverings, OCTA has numerous health and safety measures in place, including enhanced bus cleanings, passenger hand sanitizer stations on every bus, Plexiglass driver shields, and employee COVID-19 screenings with temperature checks.
OCTA continues to monitor ridership and has gradually added back service safely and efficiently.
Throughout the pandemic, OCTA has followed the guidance of federal, state and local health experts, in close coordination with the Orange County Health Care Agency. OCTA has reached out to passengers to educate and remind them of the face-covering requirements in many ways, including the signs at the front of the bus, signs above seating areas, onboard audio reminders in multiple languages, and through social media and eblasts to customers.
OCTA also has followed best practices implemented by the State of California, the FTA and the California Transit Association, and will continue to do so to help keep Orange County moving safely.