On all AC Transit buses, new and old, riders are required to wear masks, and passenger thresholds are set according to bus size. Passengers board through the back entrances and are expected to maintain the standard 6 feet of distance from each other. (Photo courtesy of AC Transit)

The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District announced Monday that it will start issuing free face coverings and hand sanitizer to riders to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Offering personal protective equipment aboard its buses is part of AC Transit’s reNEW plan to maintain and protect the health of public transit passengers.

Three-ply face masks and hand sanitizer dispensers will be affixed on the rear door of most buses in AC Transit’s fleet between Tuesday and Oct. 16, according to agency officials.

“We have weathered earthquakes, social unrest, even a global recession through sound planning,” AC Transit Board President Joe Wallace said. “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.”

Under the agency’s reNEW plan and Alameda County’s public health guidelines, AC Transit riders must maintain at least 6 feet of distance between each other. Bus capacity will also be capped to ensure riders can maintain their space.

Bus driver compartments will be encased in a protective Lexan glass shield to protect the health of drivers while onboard air filtration systems have been upgraded across the fleet, according to the agency.

Each bus in the agency’s fleet is cleaned each night, especially on high-touch surfaces like entry- and exit-way hand rails, pull cords and fare boxes.

AC Transit officials argued the reNEW plan builds on and surpasses the minimum safety standards for transit operators that were issued last month by a 30-member task force organized by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Additional features of AC Transit’s plan include running larger buses and having more buses on standby to accommodate riders affected by limited capacities, new signage to remind riders to wear a mask or face covering and expanding contactless fare payment options when the agency resumes collecting fares.

Information on the reNEW plan can be found at actransit.org/renew-covid19-action-plan.