Mass transit users face fines for not wearing masks

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NEW YORK – The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced that as of Monday, September 14, all customers who refuse to wear a mask on public transit will be subject to a $50 fine. The new measure follows Governor Cuomo’s executive order directing the MTA to develop a plan to bolster mask compliance across public transit. MTA officials say that mask usage is already above 90 percent across New York City Transit subways and buses, the Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North.

The MTA’s Mask Force, comprised of hundreds of MTA employees, elected officials, and advocacy groups, also kicked off additional outreach efforts and has made four million free masks provided by the state and NYC available to customers to-date. Additionally, the MTA launched a new “State of Respect” campaign to remind New Yorkers to wear masks on public transit as a sign of respect towards their fellow New Yorkers and to stop the spread of COVID-19. The art, which will be on display on more than 8,000 digital screens throughout the transit system and on a billboard in Ridgewood, Queens, features a diverse group of New Yorkers wearing a New York State-shaped mask. View the new campaign here.

“The goal is to achieve universal mask compliance,” said Patrick J. Foye, MTA Chairman and CEO. “This is about saving lives not generating revenue, and we’ll work with a range of law enforcement personnel to make sure riders are given every possible opportunity to wear a mask. This is about encouraging safety, not punishment.”

“As we welcome more riders back we want to maintain the high compliance that we are currently seeing,” said Catherine Rinaldi, President of Metro-North Railroad. “We have ambassadors at our busiest stations and conductors onboard trains who can provide a mask to anyone in need, and there are also PPE vending machines throughout our system. We have made tremendous progress throughout our reopening — let’s keep it going.”
The MTA has filed an emergency rule with the New York Secretary of State allowing a $50 fine for refusal to wear a mask on public transit. A 60-day comment period is in effect, after which the MTA Board will consider the public comments and adopt a final rule. The new rule follows Governor Cuomo’s most recent directive and the nation-leading executive order issued on April 17 requiring all customers and employees to wear face-coverings while in the public transit system.
The new enforcement and outreach measures build on the MTA’s ongoing multi-layered strategy to encourage universal mask compliance. More than 600 employees and volunteers joined the MTA’s Mask Force in July and August. The MTA has made four million free masks available to customers since the start of the pandemic. Any customer in need of a mask can ask a station agent, customer ambassador, conductor, or law enforcement officer for assistance.