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Quality of Life

MTS Taxicabs To Operate Under New COVID-19 Safety Protocols

A cab driver waits near his car in line at a depot near the airport Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014, in San Diego.
Gregory Bull / AP Photo
A cab driver waits near his car in line at a depot near the airport Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014, in San Diego.

Taxicab drivers with the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System will operate under new COVID-19 safety protocols, the MTS announced Friday.

The protocols will apply to all Taxicabs, Jitney, Low-Speed, Charter and Nonemergency Medical (NEM) Transport Vehicles.

New protocols include:

  • Mandatory self-screenings for temperature and symptoms at the beginning of each shift -- if drivers have symptoms or temperature readings of 100 degrees or more, they must not work;
  • Mandatory face coverings for drivers and passengers;
  • Cleaning measures requiring disinfection of inside and outdoor rear- door handles and seatbelts at the conclusion of each trip;
  • No passengers allowed in front passenger seats unless a partition is used between passenger and driver;
  • Each vehicle must have a COVID-19 plan posted, describing the safety measures being implemented.

MTS said those protocols are the "minimum requirements" and that some drivers will also be implementing barriers between front and rear passengers seats, using hand sanitizer and wipes after handling passenger luggage, cash or credits cards, and require that windows be open to allow for ventilation if acceptable by passengers.

The new measures were approved by the MTS Taxicab Administration on Wednesday and will go into effect June 27. MTS says enforcement of the new protocols won't begin until June 27 to give permit holders time to comply with the new standards.

MTS will also be reinstating driver permits for free, as many drivers have surrendered their permits and halted operations due to pandemic-related declines in business. Permit reinstatements can be done at any time if drivers can pass a vehicle inspection and provide proof of insurance.

"There are more than 850 taxis in our jurisdiction and, as the economy opens up and people begin to utilize their services again, this is an important step to improve the safety of drivers and their passengers," said Sharon Cooney, MTS chief executive officer.

Cooney said MTS operates the largest taxicab system in the region, serving Chula Vista, El Cajon, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, National City, Poway, San Diego and Santee.