The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has announced that its observers have found a mask usage rate of 97%-99%.
In a survey of 111,785 subway riders between Jan. 11 and 22, MTA observers found a mask usage rate of 97%. In a survey of 64,620 bus riders between Jan. 4 and 8, MTA observers found a mask usage rate of 99%.
“We all want to continue moving customers safely to wherever they need to go, and we need to get to 100% mask compliance,” said MTA COO Mario Péloquin. “We are nearly there, and our Mask Force campaign coupled with other extraordinary employee efforts are what truly brings us closer to the day when we will be able to stop the spread of COVID.”
To date, the MTA has acquired more than 21 million masks for distribution to customers and employees. The masks are available through various means including Mask Force, ambassador programs, free availability at stations, mask dispensers on buses and PPE vending machines across the MTA network.
“We are seeing very good compliance throughout system which means the majority of riders understand the importance of keeping themselves and everyone around them safe,” said NYC Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg. “We remind customers that if they have forgotten their masks we have them at station booths and in dispensers on buses and of course our Mask Force who has been instrumental in flattening the curve.”
“Getting masks into the hands of our customers is one of the best things we can continue to do to help stop the spread of this virus. I’m incredibly proud of our Mask Force and all our customers who continue to comply with this important mandate,” said LIRR President Phillip Eng. “Wear a mask. It’s that simple. You never know whose life you’re going to save.”
“We all know by now how important it is to wear a mask while out in public, but for those who still need to be reminded we have our own superhero, Metro Man, to help with mask distribution and safety tips,” said Metro-North President Cathy Rinaldi. It’s always great to thank our customers in person for wearing their masks when they are riding the railroad and to have our helpful staff out here to assist any customers who may have forgotten their masks at home.”
“I’m proud to kick off the year with lucky Mask Force 7 and have our elected officials greet customers with a smile and a mask,” said Sarah Meyer, MTA Chief Customer Officer. “We could not do this without our dedicated employees and volunteers who continue to make a difference in helping to the flatten the curve.”
The Port Authority launched its newest Mask Force initiative on January 12, which includes a PATH ambassador program. Twenty-four PATH representatives ride the trains daily and staff stations and platforms while wearing special t-shirts with the logo “Mask On. Ride On.” Since July, the Port Authority has hosted mask giveaways at its bus and PATH stations during rush hours on 32 occasions, with more than 1.1 million masks distributed overall through last week. More than 80 percent of the giveaways took place at the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
The MTA first launched its Mask Force in July 2020 in order to supplement its existing distribution of masks in the transit system and acknowledge customers who are already compliant. Wearing a face covering on public transportation in New York was required by law under Executive Order 202.18 issued by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo effective April 17, 2020. A $50 fine was implemented on Sept. 14, 2020 for customers who refuse to wear a mask on public transportation. Since taking office, President Biden has bolstered regional efforts with a nationwide mandate for travelers.
More than 800 people have volunteered for the MTA Mask Force since its inception. The volunteers include top MTA officials and other employees, elected officials and their staff, advocates, community board members, and members of the riding public. The program focuses primarily on almost a dozen subway stations for maximum line coverage and the busiest bus hubs with broad coverage across New York City. Employees and volunteers wear bright yellow t-shirts and vests identifying them as part of the team. The Mask Force has distributed more than 440,000 masks since July 2020.
Across agencies to date, the MTA has acquired for distribution to customers 6.9 million masks and 750,000 2oz bottles of hand sanitizer. Additionally, the Authority has distributed to its workforce 14.7 million masks, 16.7 million pairs of gloves, 100,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, 242,000 7oz and 2oz bottles of hand sanitizer, 11.3 million individual sanitizing cleaning wipes, 239,000 gallons of cleaning solution and 16,000 face shields.