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January 28, 2021

SEPTA rolls out Mask Force Philly initiative to increase compliance across transit system

Ambassadors will be at stations providing riders with face masks and hand sanitizer

Transportation Coronavirus
SEPTA mask force philly Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

SEPTA has required all passengers to wear face coverings since June, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This week the authority started its Mask Force Philly initiative to increase compliance with its COVID-19 safety protocols, as more people return to offices for work and resume using public transportation.

SEPTA has embarked on a new public awareness campaign that encourages riders on subways, trolleys, buses and trains to wear face masks more frequently.

The transportation authority began its Mask Force Philly initiative on Wednesday to increase compliance with its COVID-19 safety protocols among customers.

Along with continuing to promote the wearing of face masks, the goal of the program is to familiarize passengers, who have yet to return to public transportation amid the pandemic, with the transit authority's coronavirus mitigation efforts, SEPTA said.

"Public transportation is on the frontline of this pandemic – and has proven to be a lifeline to essential jobs and services," SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards said. "The Mask Force initiative will help us as we continue to engage our customers, and remind everyone that we are all in this together."

Mask Force Philly ambassadors will be set up at stations across the transit system, providing face masks and hand sanitizer to those who don't have them. These ambassadors will also distribute literature detailing all of SEPTA's coronavirus mitigation efforts.

Mask Force Philly is being rolled out with other regional transit agencies, including NJ Transit and Amtrak. The regional public transportation coalition to boost compliance with COVID-19 protocols was originally unveiled in November.

Compliance with the transportation authority's COVID-19 health guidelines among riders is over 90%, SEPTA said.

SEPTA riders have been required to wear face masks on all buses, trains, trolleys and subways since last June. Customers are also required to follow strict social distancing measures.

Beginning in July, SEPTA employees volunteered to serve as “social distancing coaches'' and distribute face masks to customers. 

Since the summer, Pennsylvania residents have been required to wear face masks when in public, outdoor setting, where social distancing is not possible. Face coverings must be worn in all public, indoor settings — regardless of social distancing measures.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended everyone wear face masks when leaving their homes to combat the spread of COVID-19.

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