Get ready for more seats, fuller buses and more options for bus travel in Riverside County.

That’s the message Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) is putting out this week as it makes plans to open all buses to full capacity beginning next Tuesday. The move coincides with California’s plan to fully reopen its economy on June 15 with no physical distancing restrictions for most businesses and activities in California.

That should be good news for bus riders who have grown accustomed to fewer seats and the possibility of needing to wait for the next bus to get a ride.

For more than a year, RTA has limited seating on its buses to follow federal and state guidelines regarding social distancing on public transit. Large buses, which can carry up to 60 customers, have been limited to just 10 open seats, and smaller buses, which can carry up to 28 customers, have been limited to just seven open seats.

No more.

“It’s been a long time since we have had full buses so this news is encouraging,” said RTA Chair Linda Krupa. “This is a huge step forward in our ongoing efforts to get back to normal. We especially thank our customers for their support and sacrifices they’ve made during these challenging times.”

While social distancing may be going away, masks are another story.

Last month, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) extended the federal mandate requiring passengers to wear face coverings through September 13, regardless of their vaccination status. That means RTA customers will still be required to wear masks at transit hubs and onboard the bus.

Other safety measures will remain in place, including hand sanitizers on the bus, driver barriers, and the option for customers to pay their fares contact-free with mobile ticketing.

During the pandemic, RTA ridership dropped by roughly 70 percent. Although RTA has no immediate plans to bring service back to pre-pandemic levels, the Agency will consider boosting service levels as customers return and demand increases. Also on June 15, RTA expects to fully open its reception area for customers.

RIVERSIDE, CA — June 11, 2021