Passengers on New York buses and trains who don’t wear a mask are now subject to a $50 fine, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday.
Anyone using public or private transportation in New York state, including for-hire vehicles, has been required to wear a mask since April 17, per an executive order by Cuomo. Over 90 percent of riders on subways, buses, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad already wear masks, according to surveys by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Cuomo issued another executive order Thursday directing the MTA to develop a plan to further strengthen mask compliance, and in response, the MTA announced that it was instituting the fine, starting Monday.
The fines will not be given by regular MTA employees, but by officers of the MTA Police, New York Police Department, and Bridge & Tunnel Officers (New York State Peace Officers who patrol New York City’s toll bridges and Tunnels).
“While mask compliance in the MTA system remains very high, we want to make sure that people feel comfortable coming back to public transportation,” said Cuomo. “We have to be able to say to the riding public that everyone will be wearing masks – and if they refuse to wear a mask they will be penalized.”
“Health experts agree that wearing a mask is the single best thing we can do to limit the spread of COVID-19,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye. “The $50 fine gives us another tool to help achieve our goal of universal mask usage.
To promote compliance with the mask directive, the MTA is distributing 4 million free masks, provided by the state and city, at New York City subway, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad station booths. The masks are also being given out systemwide by volunteers with the MTA’s “Mask Force,” and mask dispensers have been placed on inside 360 buses.
The MTA has also installed vending machines at several New York City subway, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North stations, which offer for sale reusable face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.