MTA Launches Campaign Reminding Riders Masks Are Mandatory, Hands Them Out For Free

The MTA has launched what it calls Operation Respect, where volunteers go from station to station, as well as on buses and trains, handing out masks to riders, reminding them that face masks are required

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As thousands more New Yorkers return to work for Phase IV, the MTA is flashing yellow caution lights to remind riders masks are mandatory. 

Only these caution lights aren’t electronic, and aren’t found on the rails or hanging at intersections – they’re MTA volunteers in yellow shirts.

The transit agency is calling it Operation Respect, where the volunteers go from station to station, as well as on buses and trains, handing out masks. Some have been given to those already wearing masks, others who were spotted without a face covering were handed one.

A new PSA from the MTA was debuted as well, with city native Rosie Perez telling her fellow New Yorkers to put a mask on.

The new initiative comes as ridership still remains low during the pandemic. Subways are operating at around 23 percent of normal levels, while buses are at 60 percent of usual amounts. But with the lower numbers did come some good news: mask compliance remains high with riders.

Around 90 percent of subway passengers and 96 percent of bus passengers have been wearing them, the agency said.

“If you fail to show respect, it’s disappointing for everyone given what New York has gone though over the last couple of months," Feinberg said when asked if there was enough enforcement.

MTA officials said that the education campaign is their best technique they have to encourage and enforce mask-wearing, because it shouldn’t be left to the bus operators and train conductors to call police if commuters fail to cover up.

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