VTA (Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority) logo. VTA is an independent special district that provides sustainable, accessible, community-focused transportation options that are innovative, environmentally responsible, and promote the vitality of our region. VTA provides bus, light rail, and paratransit services, as well as participates as a funding partner in regional rail service including Caltrain, Capital Corridor, and the Altamont Corridor Express. (Photo courtesy VTA)

Starting Wednesday, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority will increase passenger capacity on its light-rail vehicles and buses.

Face masks will still be required while riding or waiting at stops and passengers must maintain 3 feet of distance between each other.

VTA announced the new guidelines on Monday as Santa Clara County moved last week into the yellow tier, the least-restrictive of the state’s color-coded reopening tiers.

For light-rail, 34 passengers will be allowed per car. For VTA buses, 15 passengers will be allowed on a 30-foot bus, 18 passengers on a 40-foot bus and 26 passengers on a 60-foot bus.

Groups traveling together will count as one passenger and can sit or stand together, closer than 3 feet. However, all customers must remain behind the yellow limit line near the front of the bus to keep 6 feet away from operators.

Passengers are also encouraged to download VTA’s EZfare mobile ticketing app or get a Clipper card so they can do contactless fare payment.

The transit agency has been following the 6-foot distancing guideline since Santa Clara County’s shelter in place order began in March 2020. As a result, VTA buses reduced capacity by 80 to 90 percent and 600 to 800 people were passed up each day, according to the agency.

VTA Board Chair Glenn Hendricks said in a statement that this was a step in the right direction.

“What this means is more capacity for more customers, which is critical for mass public transit and for economic productivity as we continue to climb out of this pandemic,” Hendricks said.

But Hendricks said they are not “completely out of the woods” until the agency reaches full passenger capacity on its trains and buses.