COVID-19 Update: Face Coverings Required When Using Transit Starting Wednesday, May 20

May 15, 2020

There are some important changes to how you ride transit in the new guidelines Governor Brown has shared.

Here’s what’s changing, what you need to do and what we’re doing.

Riders Must Wear Face Coverings When Using Transit Starting May 20

Scarfs, bandanas and fabric masks are all okay, so long as they cover your nose and mouth. As we recently announced, all TriMet employees must wear face coverings too. 

You do not need to wear medical masks (like an N95) to ride – those are in short supply, so leave them for the health care workers who need them. 

Children under the age of two should not wear face coverings, and individuals may not use a covering if a medical condition prevents it.

You can learn more about face coverings from the CDC, including how to make them from common household supplies. 

Three-feet Social Distancing on Transit

Because everyone will be wearing face coverings, the Oregon Health Authority will allow riders to stay three feet from each other on board transit starting on May 20. However we’re going to wait until we have enough staff to reliably clean our buses and trains every four hours before we reduce social distancing to three feet on our vehicles. 

When we do go to three-feet social distancing, buses and trains will be able to safely carry a few more passengers 19 individuals, or up to 24 if some people are riding together. Each MAX car can now have seating for 22 to 26 people, depending on the type of MAX train car.

Seating will still be very limited and travel should continue to be limited. Let’s make sure nurses and doctors, grocery store staff, and other essential workers can get to their jobs.

Our bus operators interact with riders for hours at a time, so we ask you to give them as much space as possible and avoid interacting with them when possible.

Sanitizer and Disposable Mask Dispensers on Transit

Over the coming weeks, we’ll put hand sanitizer and disposable mask dispensers on board all our vehicles. Please use your own sanitizer and face coverings, if possible. Both of these items are still in short supply. We need to make sure those who have no other way to get face coverings have access to them. 

These dispensers will not be on all vehicles immediately – with over 700 buses, 145 light rail cars and 6 WES train cars and hundreds of LIFT paratransit vehicles, it may take several weeks to get them installed. 

All Vehicles Cleaned More Often

Our buses and trains will be cleaned even more frequently. We are adding staff so we can clean the commonly touched places on our vehicles with disinfectant about every 4 hours during the day. This will be in addition to the nightly disinfecting and in-depth cleaning all vehicles get and daily cleaning of rail stations and transit centers. 

Keep Following the CDC and Oregon Health Authority

Our community has been doing a fantastic job thus far — Oregon has one of the lowest rates of COVID-19 infections in the nation. The willingness of Oregonians to follow the advice of health experts, and the thoroughness with which they’ve implemented their recommendations has likely played a major role in this.

But we’re not out of the woods yet, and we must remain vigilant as things begin to reopen. Even while wearing face coverings, riders should continue to follow the CDC and Oregon Health Authority’s recommendations, including:

  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow or shoulder.
  • Stay a safe distance from other people, even when wearing a face covering.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home if you’re not feeling well.

Learn more about how to ride transit safely. 

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