The Metropolitan Transit Authority has announced a $50 fine for any rider who refuses to wear a face covering on public transit in New York City in a bid to slow transmission of coronavirus.
The fines will go into effect on Monday, and come in response to an order from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to bolster mask compliance on public transit.
‘While mask compliance in the MTA system remains very high, we want to make sure that people feel comfortable coming back to public transportation,’ Cuomo said in a statement on Thursday.
‘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,’ he added.
People ride a nearly empty Manhattan subway on August 26 in New York City. A $50 fine for any rider who refuses to wear a face covering will go into effect on Monday
The fines will go into effect on Monday, and come in response to an order from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo (above) to bolster mask compliance on public transit
The MTA says that surveys show more than 90 percent of customers are already using masks on subways, buses, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North.
Free masks have been available at subway stations for some time for riders who don’t have their own, yet some scofflaws continue to ride transit without the face coverings.
Masks have been mandatory on New York transit since April, but the $50 fine is the latest measure to drive mask compliance even higher.
Mask compliance will be enforced by MTAPD, NYPD and Bridge and Tunnel Officers. MTA frontline employees are not responsible for enforcement, the agency said.
People with and without masks walk on an outdoor subway platform in Williamsburg, Brooklyn as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening on September 3
‘We know the vast majority of New Yorkers are already doing the right thing and wearing a mask while riding with us,’ said Sarah Feinberg, Interim President of New York City Transit.
‘The fine is a last resort measure for those who refuse to comply. It’s critical that every customer does their part to keep our system safe.’
Last month, the MTA announced a ‘doomsday plan’ that would see subway service slashed by 40 percent if the agency does not get a $12 billion federal bailout.
‘Horrendous choices lie ahead,’ Metropolitan Transit Authority Chairman Pat Foye said in an emergency board meeting.
People wearing masks walk through a subway turn-style on August 30 in New York
The agency needs $12 billion in funding before the end of 2021 to avoid drastic measures, like raising metro fares to $3.75 and reducing service on commuter rail lines.
Fewer trains on the rails or subway means longer waits and more crowded cars while the pandemic continues.
For the subway, wait times would increase by eight minutes; for the bus it would be 15 minutes. Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North trains would run at every hour or two.
Foye added: ‘The future of the MTA and the future of the New York region lies squarely in the hands of the federal government.’