PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- SEPTA is now supplying more personal protective equipment to their employees to protect against the spread of COVID-19 and the transit agency is also now offering riders surgical masks.
Beginning today, the transit agency is making a limited quantity of surgical masks available on some vehicles, including buses, the Market-Frankford Line, the Broad Street Line, and at 69th Street, 15th Street, Suburban and Jefferson stations.
"Masks will be metered and replenished throughout the day to ensure supplies last as long as possible. When our supply is depleted, we will no longer be able to provide masks to the public," SEPTA told Eyewitness News.
SEPTA has also ordered 10,000 neck gators to hand out to their employees. You may now see SEPTA operators with different types of face coverings: from surgical masks, to bandannas, to neck gators.
"We've really stepped up our efforts in the last couple weeks to get our employees outfitted with the proper equipment, most notably masks," said Scott Sauer, assistant general manager of operations for SEPTA.
In the last week-and-a-half, SEPTA acquired 500,000 surgical masks, Walmart donated 1,500 bandannas and the transportation outlet teamed up with Pennsylvania sporting goods company Dick's to garner 10,000 neck gators.
"We're giving them coverings they can own," Sauer said. "It's theirs, they can take it home, clean it, wash it, wear it over and over again, where surgical masks are only good for one use."
After last week's incident where police dragged a man off a bus for not wearing a mask, SEPTA is now offering free masks for those who need it.
"We've already seen most of our customers covering their faces and there are a few that just don't have access to masks, so we have a limited supply of masks that we can make available to the customers," Sauer said.
Twenty-thousand of them will be metered and replenished throughout today and tomorrow until supplies run out.
SEPTA officials say they will continue to work with frontline employees in an effort to keep them and riders safe.
The transit union says three SEPTA employees have died from the virus.
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