New Mass Transit Mask Refusal Fine Takes Effect in New York Monday

The fines will start Monday, Sept. 14.

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What to Know

  • Gov. Cuomo announced that in order for passengers to feel safer riding public transportation he is ordering the implementation of a fine for MTA passengers who refuse to wear masks on public transportation.
  • According to Cuomo and the MTA, the fines will start Sept. 14.
  • Although the new law aims to fine those who do not comply with wearing a mask, officials say the majority of people do comply with wearing masks while riding public transportation.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he expects substantial upticks in mass transit use as New York City and the rest of the tri-state area take more reopening steps in the coming months -- and he wants people who ride subways and rails to feel safe.

To that end, the governor said Thursday he was ordering the implementation of a $50 fine for MTA passengers who refuse to wear masks on public transportation.

Cuomo said that part of the reason behind the measure is that New York City doesn't need an influx of vehicular traffic, which has been the case as people tentatively return to work amid the pandemic. The goal is to convince people it's safe to ride the subways, buses, LIRR and Metro-North with COVID precautions.

The governor went on to say that although mask compliance on the MTA transit system “is very, very high, roughly 90 percent, but we want to make sure that people feel comfortable coming back to public transportation. We want people on Metro-North. We want them on the Long Island Rail Road. We want them on the subway system. They know the cars are cleaner. They know they are disinfected. The last variable is, are the other riders on the trains recognizing social distancing and are they wearing masks. That’s what people want to know.”

Daily Percentage of Positive Tests by New York Region

Gov. Andrew Cuomo breaks the state into 10 regions for testing purposes and tracks positivity rates to identify potential hotspots. Here's the latest tracking data by region and for the five boroughs. For the latest county-level results statewide, click here


Chairman and CEO of the MTA Pat Foye said due to the governor’s previous executive order mandate masks on public transportation is required. He went on to say that mask compliance remains high 96 percent on buses, 90 percent on subways well over 90 percent on metro north and Long Island Rail Road, “but we want to drive it even higher. Achieving universal mask compliance is our goal” and because of this starting Monday the MTA will start fining people $50 for not following the mask directive on subways, buses, LIRR and Metro-North.

To date, the MTA has already distributed 4 million masks to its riders for free, Foye said.

Sarah Feinberg, the interim president of the New York City Transit, shared similar sentiments adding that the fine is “just another tool in our toolbox to ensure mask compliance.”

“This will be enforced by the MTA police and the NYPD as well,” Feinberg said. “This will be enforced just like all of our rules and regulations by law enforcement. The NYPD, MTA police and our BTL officers, our bridge and tunnel officers are already in the system. When they see someone without a mask, they remind them to put a mask on. If they don’t have a mask, they send them to the booth to get a mask or they hand them a mask from their own supply they carry and the vast majority comply… so when we have someone who is seen by an officer who is not complying, who is refusing to wear a mask, those are the folks who are going to be fined.”  

Cuomo praised the MTA for the work it has done during the pandemic to keep buses and trains sanitized. However, he said there must be a plan to enforce mask-wearing compliance in the system “to give riders comfort to reengage the system.”

Following the announcement Thursday, Transport Workers Union Local 100 issued the following statement: "Cuomo's announcement that the MTA will be fining riders without masks $50 is a big victory for Local 100. We've been demanding or advocating for this for months - in our 10 point plan, in testimony before the state Assembly, interviews and after we released our own bus rider survey in July showing riders were not complying like the MTA claimed."

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