Why Won’t Metro-North Release Their Numbers?

Metro-North, July 1, 2021. Credit: Fair Use


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On May 21, CT Examiner’s Brendan Crowley made a simple Freedom of Information request, asking Metro-North to document the number of citations or tickets the railroad has issued for mask-wearing violations since January 1, 2020.

It’s the sort of straight-forward request that a well-functioning public agency can usually fill in a week, maybe two, often less. So, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that we have our answer, and that Metro-North is not a well-functioning agency.

How far that dysfunction extends is less clear — but I see no reason to believe that transit officials are doing a better job of complying with CDC and state guidelines for public health than they are with laws requiring public transparency.

Abundant anecdotal evidence suggests that enforcement by Metro-North has been haphazard at best – sometimes numbers of passengers are observed riding mask-free without comment, at other times staff have asked passengers to comply. We really have no idea how many, if any, citations have been issued over the last year, but apparently not enough to release publicly.

For our part, we believe in common sense, moderation and following the law. While an order is in place, we obey it. When the order is lifted, we’ll happily shed our masks as we have for the rest of our daily lives. If we don’t like a rule or order, we push for it to be overturned.

That said, for anyone who has ever waited for a train to depart from Grand Central on a Friday afternoon in July, it doesn’t take a degree in epidemiology to know that the cabin air gets pretty close. For the elderly and infirm in particular who ride the train, with variants spreading, we are more than happy to do our part. And while some might say that Ned Lamont, with his orders and extensions, is acting the king, only a fool believes that those refusing to wear masks on Metro-North are freedom riders. Selma this is not.