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March 12, 2020

Big Blue Bus’s Efforts to Help Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

Last update: May 4, 2020

Big Blue Bus is implementing rear-door boarding and mandatory face coverings to protect our customers, operators, and community.

Información en Español

Big Blue Bus and the City of Santa Monica are closely monitoring the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) locally and across the globe in cooperation with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LA Public Health). We are following Public Health’s guidance along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Beginning May 5, Face Coverings Required on Big Blue Bus

Beginning May 5, Big Blue Bus customers will be required to wear non-medical face coverings at all times, when riding for essential trips. Non-medical face coverings include fabric masks, bandanas, scarves, neck gaiters, etc. Medical-grade face masks, such as surgical masks and N-95 respirators, should be reserved for healthcare and other essential workers.

Remember: Face coverings are not a substitute for staying home, practicing social distancing, and frequent handwashing.

Guidelines for Children & Persons with Disabilities

Face coverings should not be placed on children under the age of two (2), anyone who has trouble breathing, is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Children between the ages of 2 and 8 should wear a face covering with help and supervision from an adult, to ensure that the child can breathe safely.

Face Covering Do’s & Don’ts

  • Do make sure you can breathe through it.
  • Do wear it whenever going out in public or riding public transit.
  • Do make sure it covers your nose and mouth.
  • Do wash after each use. Do not use a face covering on a child under two (2) years old.
  • Do not use surgical masks or other personal protective equipment intended for healthcare workers.

When riding transit:

  • Do have your face covering on before boarding the bus.
  • Do make sure to keep it on for the entire ride.

For more information and tips about face coverings, read the City of Santa Monica’s comprehensive FAQ. Wearing a face covering while riding Big Blue Bus will help to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and keep our Operators and customers safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are you running a regular bus schedule?

Big Blue Bus is continuing to provide a critical service with schedule modifications across most routes that serve our community.

2. What actions is Big Blue Bus taking to help prevent the spread of COVID-19?

The following procedures were implemented on board, to protect the safety and well-being of our operators and customers:

  • Rear-door boarding: Customers must board and exit through the rear door only, except those with a mobility device, stroller, or accessibility need.
  • Fares no longer enforced: We are no longer enforcing collection of cash and pre-paid fares (i.e. TAP, paper passes, and mobile tickets).
  • Do not approach operators: In an effort to follow World Health Organization (WHO), CDC, and LA Public Health guidelines, our buses now have a designated physical distancing area to ensure our operators and customers can maintain a safe distance.
  • Operator safety: Providing operators with hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and personal protective equipment.
  • Implemented additional daily cleaning and sanitizing efforts: We are utilizing hospital grade solutions to sanitize high touch areas on board all our buses and MODE wheelchair accessible vehicles. Components treated with the disinfectant are stanchions, nylon straps, rails, operator areas, front and rear doors, seat frames, chime cords and other areas frequently touched by customers. We are continually evaluating our cleaning procedures to ensure they match what the situation requires in alignment with the CDC and LA Public Health guidance.

It is important to keep in mind that surfaces are only clean until someone touches them or coughs/sneezes nearby. This means we need your help to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

3. Should I be taking public transportation at this time?

We encourage customers to avoid non-essential travel, limiting trips on public transit to essential work, medical care, pharmacy, grocery stores, and to provide care for family members.

4. If I need to ride, how can I protect myself while using public transportation?

As with other respiratory illnesses, there are steps that everyone can take daily to reduce the risk of getting sick or infecting others with circulating viruses:

  • Stay home when if you feel sick, even if your symptoms are mild. It's better for you and it keeps others from getting sick, too. Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transportation. 
  • Leave about six feet of space between you and fellow passengers.
  • Wear a non-medical face cover for essential travel when riding public transportation or out in public; face coverings are required on Big Blue Bus. Non-medical face covers include cloth masks, bandanas, scarves, neck gaiters, etc., and can be washed and used again. Children under age 2 (including infants) should not wear a protective face covering. Children between the ages 2-8 should wear one with help and supervision from an adult to ensure that the child can breathe safely. Children with breathing problems should not wear a face covering. Leave medical-grade face masks like N95 and surgical face masks for healthcare and other essential workers.
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol after touching commonly handled surfaces such as poles, turnstiles, straps, or handles.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (not your hands). 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. Hand washing tips from the CDC can be viewed here
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • When passing through turnstiles use your hip or the back of your hand.

5. What else can I do to protect myself and others?

During this challenging time, take extra steps and precautions to guard yourself and others against COVID-19 by:

  • Avoid non-essential travel, public gatherings, and places where large groups of people congregate and limit the gatherings of individuals who are at higher risk for sever illness from COVID-19 (people older than 65, pregnant women, and those with chronic illness) to no more than 10 people.
  • If you are over age 65, stay home and shelter in your place.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Stay Informed!

Big Blue Bus will continue to update customers on this page, via email (subscribe), Twitter (@smbigbluebus), and Facebook (@smbigbluebus) as appropriate.

Learn about what’s happening in Santa Monica:


We’ll update this page whenever new procedures, news, or information is available when related to our services and programs. There are a number of reliable sources that provide the most up-to-date, accurate information about novel coronavirus.