MTA Mask Force pays off: New survey shows highest make usage throughout MTA system

Jan. 28, 2021
The authority reports mask usage is more than 97 percent on transit.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has announced a record number of customers using masks, as the authority kicked off the first Mask Force of 2021.  

“Masks continue to be an effective and vital piece of the ongoing fight against COVID-19 and we're glad to be here to help customers mask up,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye. “Vaccines and expanded testing bring new hope this year as we continue to battle this public health crisis, and continued widespread mask compliance throughout our system helps keep our customers, employees and each other safe.” 

“We all want to continue moving customers safely to wherever they need to go, and we need to get to 100 percent mask compliance,” said MTA COO Mario Péloquin. “We are nearly there, and our Mask Force campaign coupled with other extraordinary employee efforts are what truly brings us closer to the day when we will be able to stop the spread of COVID.” 

In a survey of 111,785 subway riders between Jan. 11-22, MTA observers found a mask usage rate of 97 percent. In a survey of 64,620 bus riders between Jan. 4-8, MTA observers found a mask usage rate of 99 percent. 

The MTA’s most senior officials were at various locations for the kickoff of Mask Force 7 and were joined by local elected officials and other special guests. 

Mask Force appearances include: 

  • MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye, MTA COO Mario Péloquin and Long Island Rail Road President Phil Eng at the Jamaica LIRR Station and the Sutphin Blvd - Archer Av – JFK Airport subway station with Queens Borough President Donovan Richards 
  • New York City Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg at Atlantic Av-Barclays Center with appearances from local and state elected officials 
  • Metro-North President Cathy Rinaldi at North White Plains Station with local and state elected officials along with Metro-Man  
  • MTA Chief Customer Officer Sarah Meyer with New York City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez, and local elected officials at 149 St-Grand Concourse   
  • 145 St at St. Nicholas Av  
  • Grand Central - 42 St  
  • Times Sq  
  • Broadway Junction 
  • 74 St-Roosevelt Av-Jackson Hts 
  • Staten Island Railway’s St. George Terminal 

To date, the MTA has acquired more than 21 million masks for distribution to customers and employees.  The masks are available through various means including Mask Force, ambassador programs, free availability at stations, mask dispensers on buses and PPE vending machines across the MTA network. 

"We are seeing very good compliance throughout system which means the majority of riders understand the importance of keeping themselves and everyone around them safe,” said Feinberg. “We remind customers that if they have forgotten their masks, we have them at station booths and in dispensers on buses and of course our Mask Force who has been instrumental in flattening the curve.”  

"Getting masks into the hands of our customers is one of the best things we can continue to do to help stop the spread of this virus. I'm incredibly proud of our Mask Force and all our customers who continue to comply with this important mandate," said LIRR President Phillip Eng. "Wear a mask. It's that simple. You never know whose life you're going to save." 

“We all know by now how important it is to wear a mask while out in public, but for those who still need to be reminded we have our own superhero, Metro Man, to help with mask distribution and safety tips,” said Metro-North President Cathy Rinaldi. It’s always great to thank our customers in person for wearing their masks when they are riding the railroad and to have our helpful staff out here to assist any customers who may have forgotten their masks at home.”  

Regional Mask Force update 

Partners from regional transportation agencies were also out to hand out masks to customers, building on a Regional Mask Force campaign announced in November. 

The Port Authority on Jan. 12 launched its newest Mask Force initiative that includes a PATH ambassador program. Twenty-four PATH representatives ride the trains daily and staff stations and platforms while wearing special t-shirts with the logo “Mask On. Ride On.” Since July, the Port Authority has hosted mask giveaways at its bus and PATH stations during rush hours at 32 occasions, with more than 1.1 million masks distributed overall through last week. More than 80 percent of the giveaways took place at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. 

New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) ambassadors handed out masks at various locations, including New York Penn Station, Newark Penn Station, Secaucus, Broad St., and Trenton. NJ Transit hosted its first Mask Force Event in November at a dozen locations during morning and afternoon peak periods. The agency has distributed almost 37,000 masks to customers through its Mask Force, ticket offices and customer service field offices. 

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) kicked off its Mask Force Philly event at its 15th St Station. SEPTA Police are also participating by hosting a Rolling Thunder event where they ride trains and do “Meet-n-Mask Greets” with riders. SEPTA will continue to do weekly Mask Force Philly “Greeter Events” that will take place at various stations as staff and volunteers thank customers and offer masks and hand sanitizer, as well as COVID-19 fact cards that contain health tips and information about the safety of the system. 

Amtrak Chief Safety Officer Steve Predmore joined leaders from other local transit agencies in November to provide masks to riders and highlight their shared commitment to customer and employee safety. Per federal mandate and Amtrak policy, all customers and employees must wear a face mask, or covering, that fully covers the entire mouth and nose while onboard and in stations. By working with the Mask Force Campaign, it also ensures everyone has the right type of masks so they can travel safely and help stop the spread of COVID when traveling.