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MTS wins National Award for COVID-19 Response



The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has selected the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) as the winner of the Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards for the agency’s outstanding response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards recognizes transportation systems that have implemented programs or initiatives that have achieved documented success in addressing specific safety or security program areas.

In 2020 amid the COVID-19 crisis, MTS created a safety campaign called CLEAN RIDE to help give people confidence in the safety of traveling on public transportation. MTS remained agile during the evolving situation, adjusting the CLEAN RIDE safety campaign to adhere to current CDC recommendations and industry best practices.

“The pandemic brought an unprecedented amount of adversity, and as an essential service, MTS’ top priority was to ensure that essential workers had safe transportation alternatives,” said Sharon Cooney, MTS chief executive officer. “We are honored to receive this award and recognized for our hard work and dedication during an extraordinarily difficult time. I am proud of our staff who quickly and professionally rose to the occasion to adapt, educate and help our region recover.”.

CLEAN RIDE was a robust public education campaign designed to ensure that the people of San Diego were aware of all the methods MTS took to keep its services clean, safe, and frequent. The underlying principles for the MTS CLEAN RIDE COVID-19 safety campaign focused on four pillars:

  • DEPENDABILITY: Limit service reductions, improve on-time performance and accident rates
  • SAFE & CLEAN RIDES: Double down on methods to sanitize the transit system to keep COVID-19 infection rates low, and demonstrate publicly the commitment to safe transportation
  • PUBLIC EDUCATION: Use paid and earned media tactics to educate the public about new and improved safety policies and procedures for sanitizing the system
  • EMPLOYEE SAFETY: Keep employees healthy and infection rates low with improved workspace configuration, robust communication, PPE, on-site testing, and on-site vaccinations

MTS implemented the following during the pandemic:

  • 96% of service maintained through the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Free rides provided to vaccination sites
  • Increased the already-rigorous cleaning procedures with middle-of-the-day cleanings and using new methods to keep the system safe and sanitized for passengers, such as “fogging” entire vehicles with disinfectant
  • On-site COVID-19 Testing provided to all employees and daily health checks
  • On-site COVID-19 vaccinations provided free to all employees beginning March 2021.
  • Free public COVID-19 testing at seven transit centers
  • Handwashing stations installed at all Trolley stations
  • Dedicated CLEAN RIDE safety campaign landing page with timely and transparent public information that generated 109,000 page visits by people seeking more information

To learn more about the CLEAN RIDE campaign visit our website

MTS operates 95 bus routes and three Trolley lines across 10 cities and unincorporated areas of San Diego County. Frequencies and spans have been restored to near-pre-COVID-19 levels. Updated schedules can be accessed on the MTS website. MTS requires people to wear face coverings at all times, and practice physical distancing when possible.