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June 07, 2020

All SEPTA riders now required to wear face coverings

The measure takes effect on Monday

SEPTA face coverings Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

SEPTA customers will now be required to wear face coverings when riding trains, buses, trolleys, and subways.

Starting Monday, all SEPTA riders will be required to wear face masks in order to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 across the entire transit system. 

The decision was made as ridership is expected to increase and the Philadelphia region moves into the yellow phase of Pennsylvania’s reopening plan amid the coronavirus pandemic, the transportation authority said.

Thorough cleaning and sanitation of SEPTA stations and vehicles will continue, capacity limits on buses and trolleys will be put in place to enforce social distancing, and signs will be placed marking off seats so passengers know where they can sit and remain six feet apart.

“As the region enters the Yellow Phase, more people will be returning to work and riding SEPTA," SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards said. "We want to make sure our customers feel safe and comfortable on our system, and we will continue with an enhanced cleaning program system-wide. Also, riders have made it clear that requiring everyone to wear face coverings would help make them feel safe returning to transit, so we are putting a face covering requirement in place on Monday."

SEPTA customers had previously not been required to wear face coverings, but were strongly encouraged to when riding. SEPTA officials have been wearing face masks when riding on trains, subways, buses, and trolleys to protect staff. 

The transit authority has provided surgical masks to riders on some subways—including the Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines—buses, and trolleys.

The CDC has recommended everyone wear cloth masks when leaving their homes. The masks do not protect the person who wears them; rather, they prevent sick individuals—including those who do not have symptoms—from spreading their germs. Some 25% of people infected by the coronavirus do not display symptoms, but they may still be able to transmit the virus.

New Jersey Transit and private carrier riders are also required to wear face masks when traveling, and workers are required to wear face masks and gloves while on the job. 

NJ Transit and private carriers are required to limit capacity on all trains, buses, light rail vehicles, and paratransit vehicles to 50% of the maximum number of passengers allowed onboard in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Amtrak riders are also required to wear face coverings over the nose and mouth when riding on trains and thruway buses, as well as when situated in stations, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Face masks can be taken off when customers are eating in designated areas, in private rooms, or seated alone or with a travel companion in their own pair of seats. Small children who are unable to wear a face covering are exempt from the rule.

Amtrak has been limiting bookings by keeping capacity to 50% on its trains to enforce social distancing guidelines, only processing cashless payments in stations and on trains, and limiting seating in dining areas in order to protect customers and employees from the virus. The company has also placed signage across its stations to enforce social distancing in typically-crowded areas such as waiting rooms, ticket offices, lounge areas, and escalators.

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