Maskless transit riders in NYC will face $50 fines as officials crack down
NEW YORK — The MTA is done playing nice on its mask mandate.
Transit officials on Wednesday announced a crackdown on riders who skirt a state rule that requires them to wear a mask while on transit.
The new enforcement push begins Thursday, officials said. It comes more than a year after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Sept. 10, 2020, order mandating all commuters in New York wear face masks or else face a $50 fine.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Michael Cortez said the agency’s police department has issued just 41 summonses to subway, bus and commuter railroad riders who flouted the mask mandate, or about one every nine days since the policy took effect.
That figure doesn’t include summonses that might have been issued by NYPD Transit Bureau officers.
MTA surveys conducted during the first six months of 2020 found more than 80% of subway riders wore their masks over both their noses and mouths — but that figure dipped to 71% in early July and remained below 75% in early September.
Transit officials to date have taken a soft approach to encouraging mask use.
Instead of issuing fines, an MTA volunteer initiative dubbed the “Mask Force” has distributed hundreds of thousands of free face covers to riders. Free masks are also available at subway token booths.
“In the coming weeks officers will step up enforcement efforts on commuter rails and work with our partners at the NYPD for the subway and bus system,” acting MTA police chief Joseph McGrann said in a statement.
“The message is clear — wear a mask,” McGrann said. “Riders who are still not getting this message will now see the cost associated with that thinking.”
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