GRTC and COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

SYSTEM STATUS: (Updated 8:25AM on 5/12/2023)

  • GRTC is operating with some service delaysNew schedule modifications begin May 1, 2022.
  • GRTC is Zero Fare (no fare collection). GRTC buses and CARE vans are fareless.
  • Masks are no longer required on GRTC buses or in GRTC facilities.  GRTC encourages you to wear your mask.  
  • Rear door boarding continues for most riders. Front door boarding for passengers needing assistance.
  • Lost & Found is available by appointment ONLY. Please call in advance to determine if your item has been found.
  • GRTC Administrative and RideFinders Offices are now OPEN to the public.
  • Confirmed COVID-19 Staff/Contractor Cases To Date: 152 (click here for details). There are currently no active cases.

GRTC Safety Efforts infographic

Rider Safety Tips during COVID-19 infographic

Previous Updates: 

Press Releases: all COVID-related public notices remain online here. Below are some key releases since 2020.

GRTC Communications with ATU Local 1220:

GRTC is closely monitoring updates on the COVID-19 virus spread in Virginia so that we may continue to take reasonable precautions to address the risk. The well-being of our staff and passengers is paramount. GRTC, like transit systems across the country, has been in communication with the FTA about our actions, as well as with our local partners. GRTC has been providing updates to Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT). GRTC is also monitoring other transit systems for their responses and any enhanced protocols. 


GRTC already has procedures in place to prevent the spread of diseases on buses by frequent cleaning. Bus lot with cleaner

  • Now 100% of high-touch areas on the fleet is disinfected daily. Additionally, Operators spray disinfectant regularly on-route and in-between Operator shifts.
  • Pulse stations are cleaned at least once a day using disinfectants. 


Face masks are available for passengers without a mask, prioritizing passengers needing assistance at the front door. Ask your Operator for mask assistance. GRTC has provided more than 90,000 face masks to staff and passengers, but supply is now limited. Please bring your own mask! Masks are required for all riders aged two and older, per the CDC Order. A properly worn mask completely covers the nose and mouth. Scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, or bandannas, shirt or sweater collars (e.g., turtleneck collars) pulled up over the mouth and nose are not acceptable substitutes to a face mask. Face shields may be worn if also wearing a face mask. GRTC customers with questions about the Order may contact the GRTC Eligibility Coordinator at 804-474-9317.

Hand sanitizer is available on all buses by the rear door, and on paratransit vans by the rear windows. Please use the sanitizer when boarding and exiting.

Personal trash bags are installed on buses for passengers to use. We encourage passengers to take a bag, dispose of tissues and other trash in these bags, and take your trash bag with you when you exit the bus. Many stops have trash cans where you can deposit your trash.

Essential Trips Only. Follow Public Health Tips.Passengers continue to see/hear regular public service announcements about helping us prevent the spread of germs (cover your cough, use tissues, etc.). Passengers should follow recommended CDC guidelines for proper hygiene.

No Joy-ridingIf a passenger on the bus is in need of immediate medical assistance, the Operator will contact Radio to request emergency services. If a passenger is ill with bodily fluids expelled on the bus, the bus is immediately pulled out of service for cleaning. On-board passengers are transferred to a clean replacement bus to continue their trip.  

For RideFinders clients, a reminder that the Emergency Ride Home (ERH) program is not available for building closures/evacuations, weekend usage or during inclement weather.

GRTC serves many of the vaccine locations throughout Greater Richmond!

The most important action the public can take is to stay updated and follow recommended guidelines from official sources

GRTC Employees:

two bus operators wearing face masksGRTC is committed to the safety, health, and financial well-being of its staff. At our headquarters, steps have already been taken. Cleaning of high-touch surfaces has increased during our routine daily cleaning of the facility. Hand sanitizer stations are available throughout the property. Maintenance and cleaning staff already use protective gloves, and Operators may also request protective gloves. Face masks were distributed to staff first this Spring, then masks were made available for passengers needing Operator assistance while riding. A local partnership enabled GRTC to purchase hand sanitizer in bulk for our frontline employees.

At RideFinders, cleaning frequency was also increased, including of high-touch surfaces. Front desk staff have protective gloves.

Our frontline staff, including Operators, Supervisors, Cleaners and Mechanics, are taking every reasonable precaution to protect themselves and each other while serving the public. GRTC maintains a high level of confidence in the safety of our service for our staff and riders.

Safety Actions for Employees by Date:

Already in-place before COVID-19:

  • Hand sanitizer stations at HQ.
  • Pulse stations cleaned daily.
  • HQ cleaned daily.
  • Protective disposable gloves available upon request for Operators.
  • Normally 25% of fleet cleaned daily, taking four days to cycle through. (Now the entire fleet is cleaned nightly).

March 2020:

1: Tip of the Week provides information about the COVID-19 spread and prevention practices.
6: Procurement begins efforts to purchase hand sanitizer for all vehicles. (This plan evolves through the month, ending up with the distillery and individual bottle solution.)
10: GRTC’s COVID-19 webpage launches with daily updates. This kicks off public communication efforts.
12: Reminder about optional protective gloves shared with Operators (gloves available upon request at Dispatch or from a field Supervisor). Inventory continually replenished.
13: 9AM Directors’ Meeting to immediately address emerging conditions and accelerate protective measures
13: Begin daily texts with safety messages and employee notices.
13: All work travel canceled until further notice to minimize risk of exposure. Staff traveling for approved time off should report to HR prior to returning to work.
13: Personal trash bags begin being installed on buses to help with disposal of unsanitary items.
13: Planning & Scheduling begin drafting service updates in response to projected changes in ridership during the emergency.
13: Management stated commitment to maintain 100% employment for as long as possible
16: Admin staff begin transitioning to telework to minimize unnecessary exposure to front line staff in building. Admin building closes to public. Admin cleaning increased with enhanced focus on high-touch places (door handles, buttons, railings, etc).
16: All internal monitors display exclusively COVID-19 information.
16: Implemented daily weekday 9AM COVID-19 tele-meetings for leadership staff and Union leadership.
17: Began providing paid quarantine to staff with possible exposure or family exposure to COVID or with COVID-like symptoms
17: Additional trash can placed at bus lot door.
17: Cleaning milestone – 50% of fleet (high-touch surfaces) cleaned daily.
19: Discontinue fare collection and limit front-door access to only passengers needing Operator assistance.
19: Placed signs and physical separation for more than six feet distancing between passenger areas and operators.
23: Additional trash can placed at front door.
23: Cleaning milestone – 80% of fleet (high-touch surfaces) cleaned daily.
24: Unaccompanied minors asked not to ride.
26: Cleaning milestone – 90% of fleet (high-touch surfaces) cleaned daily.
26: New PSA announcement deploys on buses asking customers to only ride for essential trips, follow CDC public health guidelines, enter/exit through rear doors.
27: Porta Potties deployed.
30: Hand sanitizer replenished with locally produced sanitizer from distillery.
30: Confirmed availability of paratransit vans and operators for use on express and low passenger runs.

April 2020:

1: Hand sanitizer stations deployed in high-traffic areas.
1: GRTC begins gathering cloth face masks to make available to front line staff. Ongoing.
3: Personal 4oz bottles for hand sanitizer distributed to staff. Ongoing.
4: Received notice of GRTC’s only known COVID Positive staff member and took immediate precautionary measures
5: Cleaning milestone – 100% of fleet (high-touch surfaces) cleaned daily.
6: PR Code “Essential Trips Only” deploys on fleet.
8: Express resources redeployed to high-ridership local routes to help promote physical distancing while riding.
17: GRTC gathers enough cloth face masks for all staff to have two, if they choose. Ongoing.
23: Limited supply of cloth face masks available on buses for customers.
23: First bonus for frontline workers authorized by CEO.
26: Service updates take effect to redistribute transportation resources from low-ridership routes to high-ridership local routes to further help promote physical distancing while riding.
28: Additional COVID-19 testing site available for staff. This location is free for employees to use with an appointment. 
28: Physical/social distance notices posted at HQ reminding employees to space 6FT apart at work. Floor markings added at both Fixed Route and CARE Dispatch and check-in areas for visual guidance. 
29: GRTC received notice of first Operator testing positive for COVID-19 and took immediate precautionary measures, including encouraging all Operators to be tested for free using GRTC's site in Henrico County.

May 2020:
Operator wearing face mask and face shield

1: GRTC employees can be tested at area BetterMed sites for free. Any employee tested previously can be reimbursed the co-pay.
1: GRTC procures 400 face shields for all Operators. Delivery May 11.
7: GRTC places aerosol cans of Steriphene disinfectant and deodorant on buses to be sprayed in vehicles while in service.
8: GRTC begins installing on-vehicle hand sanitizer dispensers on all buses and CARE vans. Complete May 18.
11: OBS Janitorial begins additional cleaning of buses.
11: Begin installation of Driver Shields on buses.
21: Additional hand sanitizer (wall mounted) dispensers installed throughout GRTC HQ. (There is one on every floor at the elevators, one by the fire doors, two in the lobby, one in every office suite, training room, customer service, at dispatch by clock-in, in the Board Room, 2nd floor conference room and in the Maintenance department.)
29: Executive Order 63 takes effect, requiring face masks/coverings on public transit. GRTC begins distributing more than 36,000 face masks to passengers.

June 2020:

Operator wearing GRTC uniform face mask beside their bus

1: First on-site, voluntary, free COVID-19 testing event for staff. POSTPONED to June 8.
4: Sneeze shield installed at Front Desk.
7: Operators’ Lounge closed to encourage social distancing.
8: First on-site, voluntary, free COVID-19 testing event for staff. No new cases! All people tested were negative for COVID-19.
10: Block number display able to show “MASK” or “BLM” messages.
16: Second frontline bonus authorized by Board of Directors. Bonuses deposited beginning July 2.
17: PR Code “Face Mask Required” created (fully deployed on fleet by July 3).
18: Second on-site, voluntary, free COVID-19 testing event for staff. No new cases! All people tested were negative for COVID-19.
19: Sneeze shields installed at all Dispatch windows and Parts Room Window (in Maintenance).
22: GRTC uniform face masks distributed to Operators.
22: GRTC distributes aerosol cans of Steriphene disinfectant and deodorant to each Operator.

July 2020:

1: Disinfectant wipe containers assigned to every Operator
15: Third on-site, voluntary, free COVID-19 testing event for staff.
23: Fourth on-site, voluntary, free COVID-19 testing event for staff.
30: Fifth on-site, voluntary, free COVID-19 testing event for staff. No new cases! All people tested were negative for COVID-19.

August 2020:

24: Sixth on-site, voluntary, free COVID-19 testing event for staff. 
31: State-mandated COVID-19 training completed by staff.

September 2020:

30: Completed installation of driver plexiglass shield doors on entire bus fleet.

October 2020:

2: Completed installation of driver plexiglass shield doors on entire CARE van fleet.
2: Seventh on-site, voluntary, free COVID-19 testing event for staff. No new cases! All people tested were negative for COVID-19.
6: Flu Shot Day (free for all staff)
31: October did not have any new COVID cases among staff!

December 2020:

10: Eighth on-site, voluntary, free COVID-19 testing event for staff. Out of 188 employees tested, two were positive for COVID-19.

January 2021:

14: Ninth on-site, voluntary, free COVID-19 testing event for staff. Three GRTC COVID-19 Cases Detected. 
14: Virtual Town Halls with Department of Health to discuss vaccine.
January: The first GRTC employees are eligible to voluntarily receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

February 2021:

1: CDC issues Face Mask Order [PDF – 11 pages] effective on February 1, 2021 at 11:59 pm (EST).
February: Vaccine eligibility continues for employees aged 65 and older.

March 2021:

8: Health District opens vaccine availability for public transit workers in Group 1B. Staff encouraged to voluntarily register to receive their vaccine once available. 
10: Vaccine appointments become available for all GRTC staff. 

April 2021:

12: Staff who are voluntarily vaccinated are paid for one sick day after their final dose.  
30: Federal Mask Mandate extended through September 13.

May 2021:

Staff continue to be voluntarily vaccinated in May. By mid-month, approximately 177 employees fully vaccinated. 

June 2021:

1: Staff continue to be voluntarily vaccinated. As of June 1, 246 employees self-reported full vaccination. 
2: GRTC begins temporarily removing on-board hand sanitizer dispensers during a voluntary recall of Spartan hand sanitizer for possible temporary skin irritation. Replacement sanitizer is expected later this month.  Although this is voluntary and any possible impact is limited to a low risk for skin irritation, GRTC decided to remove the inventory and replace it with a new batch to be extra cautious. Spartan recall info: "Since Spartan Chemical Company’s initial voluntary recall announcement on July 2, 2020 and again on March 29, 2021, we have worked diligently with the FDA to demonstrate product suitability for its intended use. At this point, we find it best to expand our voluntary recall to all drug products manufactured back to June 1, 2019 and move forward. Potential health concerns associated with the use of these products are generally considered to be low, with temporary localized skin dermatitis being the most probable effect. To date, no qualified reports of any adverse reactions have been reported related to these products."
15: GRTC's Board of Directors authorizes the FY22 operating budget supporting ongoing fareless rides through June 2022. 

July 2021:

1: On-site vaccination event for GRTC & First Transit staff. 
1: Third bonus for frontline workers distributed to staff.
22: On-site vaccination event for GRTC & First Transit staff. 

August 2021:

8: More standing room now available for passengers in the priority seating area, but riders must remain behind the blocked area near the front wheel well to maintain distance from Operators.

October 2021:

6: Annual flu shot event at GRTC HQ offered for all GRTC and First Transit staff.
21: CDC authorizes boosters for public transit workers. 
26: GRTC Board of Directors approves the draft GRTC Vaccine Policy. 

November 2021:

4: The Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on Vaccination and Testing was officially filed in the Office of the Federal Register by the US Department of Labor

December 2021:

17: Vaccine and booster bonuses for staff are distributed. 

21: More than 93% of employees reported full vaccination.

January 2022:

10: Staff can begin receiving boxes of 10 KN95 masks.