The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) was directed by Governor Andrew Cuomo last week to develop a plan to bolster mask compliance across public transportation system’s subways, buses and railroads.
As a result, the MTA announced riders who refuse to wear a mask on public transit will be subject to a $50 fine. The new measure, which went into effect September 14, requires all customers and employees to wear a face covering while riding on public transit.
MTA surveys show more than 90 percent of customers are using masks on subways, buses, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North.The $50 fine is the latest measure to drive mask compliance even higher.
“While mask compliance in the MTA system remains very high, we want to make sure that people feel comfortable coming back to public transportation,” Cuomo said. “I have asked the MTA to come up with an enforcement regimen so people know that not only are the cars clean and the stations clean, but the riders will be acting appropriately. We have to be able to say to the riding public that everyone will be wearing masks – and if they refuse to wear a mask they will be penalized.”
“Health experts agree that wearing a mask is the single best thing we can do to limit the spread of Covid-19,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye. “The $50 fine gives us another tool to help achieve our goal of universal mask usage on New York City Transit subways and buses, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad.”
The MTA has launched an aggressive public awareness campaign, “Operation Respect,” as part of a multi-layered strategy to encourage riders to wear a face covering while on public transit. The agency has made available four million masks from the State of New York and City of New York available for free at station booths, across New York City Transit, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad. Hundreds of volunteers with the MTA’s “Mask Force” are distributing these masks to riders systemwide.
The MTA has also deployed vending machines at New York City Transit subway, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North stations allowing customers to buy Covid-19 personal protective equipment (PPE). The machines, part of a pilot program, offer reusable face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes. In addition, the MTA has installed free surgical mask dispensers inside 360 buses across 15 routes to help further protect customers while on board.