AC Transit recently launched a rollout of rider personal protective equipment, or PPE, offering hand sanitizer and face masks on every bus.
Coined the reNEW Plan, this multipart action plan outlines AC Transit’s commitment to passenger health and wellness, according to a press release from AC Transit. The first rollout of PPE dispenser-equipped buses began service Tuesday, with full installations for the rest of the fleet expected to be completed by Oct. 16.
“For 60 years, AC Transit has been the transit choice in the East Bay,” said AC Transit Board President Joe Wallace in the press release. “We have weathered earthquakes, social unrest, even a global recession through sound planning. Our reNEW Plan joins that tradition of planning excellence by demonstrating how AC Transit is working around the clock to restore full service and confidence, without compromising health and safety.”
The first reNEW advancement is the availability of free onboard PPE for AC Transit riders. Hand sanitizers and face masks are now readily available to riders for free, according to the press release.
Dispensers for both hand sanitizer and face masks are attached to the rear door of every AC Transit bus, excluding 60-foot articulated buses, in which dispensers are located near the middle doors, the press release states.
In addition to free PPE, another reNEW advancement is the installation of high-efficiency particulate air filters to ensure cleaner air for riders while on board, according to the press release. AC Transit’s safety experts tested air flow in buses, concluding that having any windows open disrupts indoor air quality.
Keeping windows closed, adding new air filters and having a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system will create a powerful air vacuum, keeping out old air and circulating fresh air inside the buses every one minute and 20 seconds, the press release adds.
“The goal is two things — to make riders and drivers safe from any kind of COVID outbreak, and, I think, also they wanted to use a system that wasn’t penalizing,” said Darrell Owens, a volunteer for the East Bay Transit Riders Union.
Owens added that many transit agencies have relied on police to enforce wearing a mask. According to Owens, AC Transit drivers and workers wanted to take initiative by providing hand sanitizer and masks, giving people who do not have these resources the option to use them.
As another component of the reNEW Plan, bus operator shields are being installed to keep drivers safe by limiting the spread of airborne droplets and potential transmission of COVID-19. These protective barriers are made from durable and lightweight Lexan glass, enabling the barriers to be added without effecting bus efficiency, according to the press release.
The full fleet will be equipped with Lexan glass shields by Oct. 16, the press release states.
AC Transit also launched protocols to improve daily disinfections of high-touch areas, including nightly disinfections of every bus, the press release adds. Social distancing guidelines will continue to be followed when possible.
“Ultimately, it’s to make sure that people on the bus feel safe and are safe,” Owens said. “It’s about letting people who, like, for some reason don’t have a mask or can’t afford a mask. It’s about letting those people choose.”