Commute with Confidence: COVID-19 Commuting Tips & Resources
Commuter Connections is here to help you commute with confidence as the National Capital region begins to methodically re-open businesses. This webpage contains tips on how to keep yourself safe during your commute, as well as information on what local transportation providers are doing to make shared commuting as safe as possible.
Local Re-Opening Policies
The District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia each have their own re-opening plans and policies. The links below contain the most up-to-date statuses for each jurisdiction:
CDC Transportation Safety Guidelines
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains a helpful webpage full of recommendations and guidance for safely utilizing public transit, rideshares and taxis, micro-mobility devices, and personal vehicles.
Below are some tips and recommendations for getting ready to commute back to the office. If you are not feeling well or have symptoms of illness, please stay home and avoid taking public transit, or driving or riding in a carpool or vanpool, or going into the office.
- Avoid commuting altogether by teleworking. This is the most preferred commute mode to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Commuter Connections provides telework resources to help employees and employers launch, improve, or sustain a successful telework program.
- When participating in a carpool, vanpool, or taxi/ride-hailing, always wear a facemask. Limit the number of passengers to one passenger per row; sit diagonally from other passengers in the vehicle. Wash your hands following CDC guidelines immediately following your trip. To practice good hygiene, consider sharing the ride with individuals who you know and trust and/or routinely encounter, such as family or coworkers. The Commuter Connections ridematching system is now equipped with employer-based ridematching so you can easily find coworkers who would like to safely share their ride.
- Be sure to follow guidelines enforced by transit operators when taking public transit; a summary of these guidelines can be found in the section below. Regardless of the provider, do your best to distance yourself from others, wear a mask or face covering, avoid touching bus or train handles/poles (it may even be worthwhile to wear disposable gloves), don’t eat or drink while riding, avoid full railcars/busses, and avoid touching your phone while riding.
- When biking or walking, try to stay six feet away from others. Wear a breathable mask and avoid touching crosswalk signals with your hands (or wear gloves). If using a bikeshare bike or e-scooter, carry sanitizer to wipe down all points of contact before riding. Interested in biking but don’t have a bicycle, or are you looking to donate a bicycle? If so, checkout BikeMatchDC and BikeMatchMoCo for more information on how to participate in these programs.
- If you must drive alone to limit potential exposure to coronavirus, avoid distracted driving and excessive speeding to maintain safety on the roads – being a safe driver is just as important as stopping the spread of COVID-19! When possible, adjust your travel outside of peak commute hours. In some corridors, Flextime Rewards offers a cash incentive in exchange for reducing congestion in the region. If your employer offers alternative work schedules like staggered work hours or compressed workweeks, take advantage of them!
Local Transit Responses to COVID-19
*Note: This information is subject to change. Check with the transit provider for updates.
DASH will implement a modified weekday schedule effective Tuesday, September 15. For more information, click here. DASH has switched to rear-door boarding and eliminated fares and closed certain seats to promote physical distancing between operators and passengers. Face coverings are required on all DASH buses. DASH has implemented enhanced daily vehicle and facility cleanings to focus on critical touchpoints like handrails, fareboxes, and doors. Disinfection procedures and materials indicated to be effective against COVID-19 have been implemented.
To help slow the spread of the coronavirus, ART is operating reduced bus service, implementing rear-boarding, and suspending fares. Arlington Transit encourages social distancing on all buses and asks that riders use ART for essential travel only. All riders must wear masks. Vehicle capacity is limited. All buses are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized at the end of each night by using approved disinfectant to wipe down all stanchions, handrails, passenger seats, windows, and all components in the driver’s area.
The DC Circulator requires all passengers to wear a face-covering while aboard Fares are suspended on all routes through the end of Mayor Bowser’s declared public health emergency. Passengers are asked to board from the rear doors. Service changes are in effect; the National Mall route is suspended. Enhanced cleaning protocols are in place.
The Fairfax Connector has returned to full service and has launched new and enhanced bus routes as of August 29. Click here to learn more. Fares are waived until further notice. Riders are required to board and exit using the rear doors. This does not apply to customers who need to use a wheelchair ramp. Passengers are required to wear non-medical face coverings or cloth masks. Fairfax Connector has increased vehicle cleaning cycles with a special focus on bus interiors and critical touchpoints such as door handles, handrails, and other surfaces. These cleanings will incorporate disinfection procedures indicated to be effective against COVID-19.
CUE is operating at a regular schedule. Cleaning cycles have been increased on buses with a focus on disinfecting the bus interiors and critical touchpoints such as door handles, handrails, and other surfaces. CUE is also providing disinfectant wipes for passengers. Masks are required for passengers. Rear door boarding and exiting is in effect. This does not apply to customers who need to use a wheelchair ramp. Fares have been waived until further notice.
Current status for Local Fixed Route, Metro Connection, and Commuter Bus service is available at https://www.loudoun.gov/buschanges. Fares are free until further notice. Passenger capacity is limited on all buses. Face coverings are required for bus operators and passengers. All buses are cleaned extensively and sanitized on a daily basis. Bus operators regularly clean all high touchpoints between trips
TransIT is operating at full service. Fares are waived until further notice. Passengers and operators are required to wear face coverings; masks are not provided to passengers. Rear door boarding is in effect. Enhanced sanitation procedures have been implemented.
Ride On is operating all 79 routes, except the Flex microtransit service, but on reduced frequencies due to social distancing requirements. Fares are waived temporarily. Passengers and operators are required to wear face coverings; masks are provided by Ride On. Rear door boarding is in effect, but passengers can board through the front door if a ramp is needed to accommodate a disability or stroller. Bus interiors continue to be cleaned with hospital-grade anti-viral disinfectant. Bus filter and ventilation system are also treated each night with a disinfectant.
Face coverings are required for all passengers on Maryland busses and trains. MTA has proactively initiated an enhanced daily wipe-down of bus, rail, and paratransit vehicles to include disinfecting areas with high passenger touchpoints.
As of June 8th, Commuter Bus will return to operating on the published "S" schedule for all routes, except Route 201.
Beginning July 13th, MARC Train will return to full service for the Penn, Camden, and Brunswick Lines.
TheBus is operating Monday-Saturday, 6:00 am to 6:00 pm, at improved 30-minute frequencies on most routes. Beginning January 4, 2021, fares will be reinstated at $1.00 per ride (free fares continue for qualifying passengers). Passengers in Fort Washington/Oxon Hill are encouraged to use the new on-demand PGC Link service for $2 per ride. “Call-A-Bus” continues providing trips made by reservation seven days in advance. Passengers and operators are required to wear face coverings; masks are not provided by TheBus. Passengers should board TheBus at the front door and exit at the rear door. Vehicles are cleaned daily; capacity is limited to 10 passengers on larger vehicles and 4 passengers on smaller vehicles.
Rear door entry is asked of riders when the bus has two doors. Operators and passengers must wear face coverings; masks are not provided to riders. Bus operators are limiting the number of passengers to 10 per vehicle when possible. OmniRide’s Local and Metro Express services will operate fare-free. Expanded service for Express Routes launched on June 22nd, 2020.
VRE is operating on an “S” schedule, supplemented with Train 300 (Departs Spotsylvania at 4:54 am) for the northbound commute and Train 307 (Departs Union Station at 4:10 pm) for the southbound commute. When cleaning/sanitizing, crews place emphasis on areas people touch (e.g. seats, handholds, etc.), and restrooms are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Passenger cars are wiped down twice daily using disinfectant(s). Face coverings are required for passengers. Dispensers of hand sanitizer have been installed on trains and at the stations. To ensure the physical distancing of passengers, new graphics guide riders to window seats in every other row and upper-level seating will not be available in the cab car. Graphics to support social distancing have also been installed on station platforms.
WMATA Metrorail has largely been restored to normal operating conditions as of September 2020. All stations are open.
As of August 23, 2020, WMATA Metrobus operating services have been improved from spring and summer service cuts. Rear door boarding remains in effect. Fares are waived until further notice.
Face coverings are required on all WMATA transit. WMATA is unable to guarantee that riders will be able to maintain social distance standards at all times during their trip. Enhanced sanitation procedures are in effect. View up-to-date operating details on the WMATA Operating Service webpage. View Metro's Covid-19 Pandemic Recovery Plan for additional information COVID-19 service recovery information.
Additional Commuter Connections Resources
The free Guaranteed Ride Home (GRH) program is available to workers in need of an emergency ride home. Masks or face coverings are recommended when taking a GRH trip.
Commuter Connections provides free Ridematching services for commuters looking for formal carpool partners. Sharing the ride with a familiar individual(s), such as a family member or coworker, is recommended during the pandemic. You are invited to adjust your match settings to only match with coworkers.
The ‘Pool Rewards program rewards commuters for sharing the ride. Earn up to $130 for 2+ person carpools or receive a $200 monthly subsidy for vanpools.
If you choose to drive alone, consider signing-up for the Flextime Rewards program, and earn $8 per trip avoided during the peak commuting times.
Download the CarpoolNow app for on-demand carpooling services. Drivers can earn $10 per trip (daily). Remember to practice good carpool hygiene when ridesharing!
incenTrip is available to help you plan routes and contains updated transit services as a result of COVID-19 disruptions. Earn points for your trips, which can be redeemed for cash incentives.
If you are teleworking, check out our tips (click "Commuters" and then "Teleworking") for being effective while working from home.
Commuter Connections Resources for Employers
Commuter Connections is available to help your worksite build or enhance a telework program, create alternative work schedules such as staggered work hours and compressed workweeks, and/or develop a commuter benefits program. Contact us if you are interested in our free services or if you would like free telework assistance!
Other Commute Resources
The Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) has released a report titled Supporting Commuters Returning to Worksites during COVID-19 that includes valuable information on how to support employees in their commutes.
Micromobilty Responses to COVID-19
Bird has increased the frequency that mobility device are cleaned and sanitized. Wear gloves and a face covering when riding Bird mobility devices to help limit potential exposure to germs.
High contact surfaces on bikes will be disinfected each time they arrive in the depot. High contact surfaces on vans used to transport vehicles will also be disinfected at the start of each shift.
Lyft is frequently disinfecting high-contact surfaces on bikes and scooters. Wear gloves and a face covering when riding Lyft mobility devices to limit help limit potential exposure to germs.