South Shore Line mask optional car provides truce among commuters

Sept. 30, 2020
The South Shore Line reports mask complaints have dramatically decreased following introduction of mask optional cars.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District implemented a mask optional car on its South Shore Line (SSL) trains in July. The second car of each SSL train traveling between Illinois and Indiana has been designated as mask optional.  

Both Indiana and Illinois have active executive orders that require face coverings while on public transit and SSL requires face coverings for all passengers and employees. However, these executive orders at both the state and local levels did not provide SSL with clear powers of enforcement. Passengers who refused to comply with the face covering requirements were allowed to ride rather than be removed, which resulted with compliant and non-compliant passengers mixed together.

“Therefore, the mask-optional car was created to permit such passengers to ride while maintaining social distance from those passengers who comply. Since implementation of the mask-optional car, mask complaints have decreased dramatically, and our mask-compliant passengers appreciate the relocation of those who choose not to comply,” notes SSL.

Free masks are provided to passengers and crew who need a mask and SSL says it continues to ensure the safety of all who enter its property through improved sanitization procedures such as disinfecting seats, windows, crash pads, handrails, door handles, headrests and grab handles. Each train car is mopped with a stringent disinfectant and the SSL has also purchased state-of-the-art equipment that fogs train cars with disinfectant.

Train crews are required to wear masks, social distance as much as possible and wash hands often. To facilitate that requirement for crews and passengers, SSL has installed hand sanitizer stations in each train car.