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November 18, 2020

SEPTA, NJ Transit enter into regional transportation coalition to boost wearing of face masks

Millions of free face coverings will be distributed across participating transit systems

Transportation Coronavirus
septa nj transit mask force.jpg Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

Over 90 percent of SEPTA riders have complied with the transportation system’s face covering requirement since June, General Manager Leslie Richards said.

As many people prepare to use public transportation in their travels for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, SEPTA and NJ Transit are joining with their regional transit counterparts to form a “Mask Force” that will focus on encouraging universal compliance on wearing face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The participating transit systems, including Amtrak, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York, will distribute millions of free face masks to customers across the region to further promote health and safety guidelines across public mass transit.

“Public transportation continues to be on the frontline of this pandemic, and SEPTA remains committed to protecting the health and safety of our customers and employees,” SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards said. “The Mask Force initiative highlights that public transportation is in it together as we move forward.”

SEPTA riders have been required to wear face masks on all buses, trains, trolleys, and subways since June

Over 90 percent of SEPTA riders have complied with the transportation system’s face covering requirement, Richards said. 

Beginning in July, SEPTA employees volunteered to serve as “social distancing coaches'' by distributing face masks to customers. In the coming weeks, a team of staff and volunteers will appear at various SEPTA stations, where they will hand out free face coverings.

“NJ Transit is proud to join our regional transit partners on the Mask Force initiative, reinforcing the critical importance of wearing masks while traveling through our stations and on our vehicles,” NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett said. 

“The Mask Force initiative is yet another example of the extraordinary collaboration taking place among transit agencies at this time. We remain committed to working hard every day to provide the safest possible travel environment for our customers and employees.”

NJ Transit customers have been required to wear face masks while on vehicles, in stations, and on platforms since April. 

Since the summer, the transportation system has deployed ambassadors at stations across the state to remind customers to wear face coverings and to provide free masks to those who need them. NJ Transit has already distributed roughly 20,000 masks to customers at no cost, Corbett said.

Like SEPTA, NJ Transit is planning to introduce more volunteers as part of the “Mask Force” campaign at stations and terminals across the state in the coming weeks.

Since May, Amtrak riders have been required to wear face coverings over the nose and mouth when riding on trains and thruway buses, as well as when situated in stations.

Amtrak will have ambassadors at their largest stations along the Northeast Corridor during Thanksgiving week, where they will have a small supply of masks available if anyone needs one.

Since July, residents in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have been mandated to wear face masks whenever in a 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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