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Riding BBB During COVID-19

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More rigorous cleaning procedures, required face coverings, and contactless fare payment among changes made in response to COVID-19.

While many in our region have stayed home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Big Blue Bus kept rolling. Our frontline staff have worked around-the-clock, to ensure that our buses remain a safe and reliable option for carrying essential workers (e.g. first-responders, healthcare, grocery store, and warehouse workers, delivery truck drivers, etc.), and those making essential trips.

Big Blue Bus remains committed to safeguarding the health of our customers and staff, as our community begins to reopen. We’ve implemented changes to how you ride, with guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Watch how our heroes are safely moving us forward.

Here’s what you need to know when you return:

Face Coverings Required

Big Blue Bus customers and Operators are required to wear a face covering on board at all times. Face coverings may include fabric masks, bandanas, scarves, and neck gaiters, so long as they fully cover your nose and mouth. Medical-grade face masks, such as surgical masks and N-95 respirators, should be reserved for healthcare and other essential workers.

Guidelines for Children & Persons with Disabilities

Children under the age of two (2) should not wear a face covering, nor should anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unable to remove the covering without assistance. Children between the ages of two (2) and eight (8) should only wear a face covering with help and supervision from an adult.

To learn more about face coverings, including how to make them from household supplies, read the City of Santa Monica’s comprehensive FAQ.

Contactless Fare Payment

Big Blue Bus paper pass sales have been discontinued, as part of a phased pilot program to study cashless boarding. Paper passes will still be accepted on board, but customers are strongly encouraged to make contactless fare payments with TAP or a mobile ticket. In addition to speeding up boarding, contactless payments help protect customers and Operators from the spread of COVID-19.

For a limited time, we have discounted Single Ride fares for those making contactless payments with TAP or a mobile ticket. For more details, visit:

Social Distancing

Customers should remain at least six feet apart while riding Big Blue Bus, where possible, and when boarding/exiting the vehicle. We’ve placed signs on our buses that remind customers to keep a safe distance, and wear a mask as required. 

For the safety of our Operators, we've retrofitted our fleet with protective, plexiglass barriers. Still, we ask that you give our Operators plenty of space, and avoid approaching them when possible.

Passenger Limits

To prevent overcrowding, we are carrying passengers at approximately 50% capacity; for most of our buses, that’s about 20 people. We are closely monitoring our service, and running additional buses on routes that consistently exceed the threshold, when possible.

Current Service

Due to the pandemic, we have reduced our service by approximately 30-percent, which means buses are now coming less often in most cases. However, we are closely monitoring ridership, so that we can expand service as customers return to our system, and ensure social distancing is maintained on board.

We strongly recommend you check our service alerts before making essential trips - it’s where you can find the most up-to-date information on delays or changes.

Increased Ventilation

To help increase air flow on board our buses, customers and Operators now have the option to open their immediate window. Please note this is optional, as there may be fellow passengers with differing preferences.

Cleaning and Sanitization

Big Blue Bus has implemented enhanced cleaning protocols, to help protect against the spread of COVID-19. We’re cleaning and sanitizing our entire fleet nightly, and using hospital-grade solutions to wipe down high touch areas, such as stanchions, nylon straps, rails, seats, front and rear doors, seat frames, chime cords, stop buttons, the Operator cabin, and more. We’re also disinfecting the locations where our essential employees work daily, including our Maintenance and Fuel & Wash facilities, as well as our administrative office. 

Vehicle Quarantine

If there is a concern that someone who may have COVID-19 has been on board a bus, the vehicle is removed from service and thoroughly disinfected.

Protecting Big Blue Bus Staff



Employees are provided with sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.



Face Coverings

All employees have been provided gloves and reusable cloth face coverings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 



Protective Barriers

To provide extra protection for our Operators, we are updating our fleet with clear plastic protective barriers.



Sick Leave

All employees can take leave for COVID-19, including to quarantine themselves due to possible exposure, or care for a family member. 


Stronger Together

Safety is a shared responsibility, and we all play a role in keeping Big Blue Bus healthy and safe. We recommend the following safety tips when traveling on public transit:

  • Wear a face covering for essential travel when riding transit or out in public; face coverings are required on Big Blue Bus.
  • Leave at least six feet of space between you and others, and avoid sitting in a vacant seat directly next to another passenger.
  • Avoid crowded buses and wait for the next bus, when possible.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, before and after you travel. Hand washing tips from the CDC can be viewed here.
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol after touching frequently handled surfaces, such as stanchion bars, straps, seat backs, or handles.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • 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).
  • Limit unnecessary travel and stay home if you are not feeling well, 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.

By working together, we can flatten the curve and protect the most at-risk members of our communities!

Common Questions

  1. 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.

  2. Is Big Blue Bus running a regular bus schedule?

    We are currently running a regular bus schedule with reduced service; this means buses are now coming less often in most cases. Please view scheduled bus arrival times online, or get real-time arrival information using digital signs at select bus stops, or the Transit app. For ways to access real-time arrivals using a 4-digit stop ID, visit:

  3. Do people have to wear face coverings at bus stops?

    The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Additionally, wearing a face covering while in public or high-risk settings is now required statewide, and some cities are issuing citations to those who fail to comply with the law, including the City of Santa Monica. Therefore, customers are required to wear face coverings while at bus stops. 

  4.   Where can I get information about COVID-19?

    There are a number of reliable sources that provide the most up-to-date, accurate information about COVID-19:

    In addition, we’ll update this page as new information is available about our services, programs, and policies. You can also sign up for our emails, and follow us on Twitter (@smbigbluebus) and Facebook (@smbigbluebus).

 We look forward to serving you, whenever you’re ready for the road ahead!