The Metropolitan Transit Authority issued 18 summonses between Sept. 23 and Sept. 29 — nearly half as many as were issued since the start of the pandemic — for passengers failing to wear masks on public transportation.
In response to a request for data specific to Metro-North, MTA spokesman Michael Cortez told CT Examiner that the transit authority was able only to provide aggregate numbers across the entire system.
The stepped-up enforcement is part of a recent campaign to ensure that riders abide by a federal order by Centers of Disease Control that riders must wear masks on public transportation — an order that comes with a $50 fine in New York and $100 in Connecticut.
Between Sept. 14, 2020, when MTA instituted fines for failing to wear a mask and when the “mask blitz” began on Sept. 23, 2021, the authority had issued 41 summonses for failing to wear a mask — and an additional 2,993 riders left a bus or train rather than wear a mask or accept a fine.
In an email, the transit authority — which currently serves nearly 5 million riders a day on MTA buses, the subway, Metro North and Long Island Railroad — explained that it was much more common for riders to be given masks or for riders to comply when they were asked to wear a mask, than it was for riders to leave or be written a citation.
During the “blitz,” MTA reported distributing 5,502 masks, and 1,669 instances when a rider put on a mask after being asked. In the two days after Labor Day, MTA distributed a combined 3,674 masks between Sept. 8 and 9.
Since the 2020 rule took effect, MTA has distributed over 52,249 masks to riders, according to data provided by the authority.
In July, MTA reported that it had not issued any citations to riders on Metro-North trains for mask violations since the start of the pandemic. After that number was publicized in a July 13 article in CT Examiner, MTA issued three citations within a week — on July 17, 20 and 22 — and no further citations until Sept. 23 and the “blitz.”