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MTA Completes Installation of New Protective Barriers on 4,800 Local Buses Across All Boroughs

New York City Transit
Updated January 26, 2021 11:43 a.m.
Polycarbonate Bus Barriers

Sliding Barriers Replace Temporary Barriers on Local Buses


Polycarbonate Barriers Add Extra Layer of Protection for Bus Operators and Allow for Social Distancing


Department of Buses Worked with Manufacturers to Install Barriers Quickly and Efficiently -- Overcoming Challenges of COVID-19 Pandemic 


1,000 Express Buses Continue to Have Temporary Barriers and Other Safety Measures


View Pictures of the Barriers


MTA New York City Transit today announced that it has completed the installation of protective polycarbonate sliders on all 4,800 local buses across all boroughs thanks to Department of Buses Engineering personnel who worked with manufacturers to complete the process at an accelerated pace, overcoming the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The barriers installed by the bus operator’s compartment add an extra layer of protection for employees and customers and allow more space for social distancing.

Over the summer, the Department of Buses started the process of installing innovative barriers across the entire fleet. As a temporary measure, some buses were equipped with vinyl curtains. Those curtains have now been fully replaced with the polycarbonate sliders.

Installations were coordinated and performed across 28 bus depots and three overhaul facilities with more than 17,000 hours of work going into installation, design, procurement and fabrication.

“Our frontline heroes continue moving New York City during this pandemic and we are collaborating with our union partners to continue protecting both our employees and customers who are our first priority,” said Craig Cipriano, President of the MTA Bus Company and Senior Vice President for Buses of New York City Transit. “We are thankful to our internal workforce, including Buses Engineering, who designed and installed these barriers and understood the importance and need to work efficiently to make sure all of our 4,800 local buses got the polycarbonate sliders.” 

“This is a significant accomplishment and a step in the right direction,” said Tony Utano, President of Transport Workers Union Local 100. “These barriers offer better protection for our Bus Operators. There’s still more work to be done and we will keep pushing forward.”

All 1,000 express buses have a full-length vinyl curtain to isolate the bus operator when passengers board that can move forward and backward in place. The two front rows of seats on express buses remain blocked off to maintain social distancing between the bus operator and passengers. Additionally, the Authority is currently in the development and early pilot stages to create a more permanent barrier for express buses – with installations expected to begin in the coming months.

Additionally, as part of the Authority’s unprecedented cleaning and disinfecting efforts, to date buses have gone through more than one million cleaning cycles.

Since the resumption of front-door boarding in August, buses have up to 40 percent more space on them, allowing for social distancing. The white line on the bus floor, behind which riders are expected to stand, continues to remain pushed back, allowing for more social distancing from the bus operator. Customers must wear a mask while on public transit. As part of a pilot, the MTA has completed installation of mask dispensers on 600 buses on 31 routes across all five boroughs. The dispensers are refilled daily.

With slightly less than one million customers a day, bus ridership is approximately 50 percent of normal pre-pandemic ridership levels.  For more information about daily ridership, visit new.mta.info/coronavirus/ridership.

Passengers are encouraged to use the capacity tracking feature on the MYmta app that allows customers to track the number of passengers on arriving buses and how long the bus will take to get to their stop. The real-time data collection is done via Automated Passenger Counter (APC) sensors available on buses in all five boroughs, covering 40% of the bus fleet with plans to expand.

Across agencies to date, the MTA has distributed to the workforce 14.3 million masks, 16.4 million pairs of gloves, 99,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, 240,000 7oz and 2oz bottles of hand sanitizer, 11.2 million individual sanitizing cleaning wipes, 237,000 gallons of cleaning solution and 16,000 face shields. Additionally, the Authority has acquired for distribution to customers 6.8 million masks and 750,000 2oz bottles of hand sanitizer.