Across the US, local transit authorities are deciding whether they will continue requiring passengers to mask up after a federal judge struck down the public transportation mask mandate aimed at mitigating Covid-19 risk.
Their decisions are mixed, as some transit officials say they will let riders choose whether to mask, while others say they will keep their masking policies in place.
The mandate, enacted in February 2021 by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, required people on public transit and at transportation hubs like airports to wear masks regardless of their vaccination status.
But following the Florida judge’s decision on Monday, the order is no longer in effect while the ruling is being reviewed, a Biden administration official said.
From New York to Atlanta to San Francisco and Seattle, here’s how some city transit systems are handling their mask requirements:
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, or MARTA, will stop enforcing its mask mandate, a spokesperson told CNN.
“If customers and employees want to continue wearing masks while on the transit system, they are free to … but masks are not required at this time,” MARTA spokesperson Stephany Fisher said.
Riders of the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or CapMetro, are no longer required to wear masks, spokesperson Tawaun Cole told CNN, adding the CDC “is still encouraging customers to mask up to protect themselves while using public transportation.”
Masks are not required on Chicago Transit Authority trains and buses after Illinois Gov. Gov. JB Pritzker announced Tuesday the statewide mask mandate for public transportation is ending. Riders who wish to wear a mask are “encouraged to do so,” CTA said in a Tweet.
On Metra, “masks will be welcome but not required,” the rail service said on Twitter.
Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) will no longer require passengers to wear masks, a METRO spokesperson told to CNN.
“METRO is in the process of removing all signage and messaging requiring masks on our system,” spokesperson Monica Russo said. “We are also going to move away from requiring masks for METRO employees. They will continue to have the option to wear a mask.”
LA’s Metro service said Tuesday it will not require face coverings.
The Metro has made masks optional for riders, the service announced on its website, adding that it continues to recommend passengers mask to “protect themselves and others.”
Statewide New Jersey Transit won’t require masks anymore on its buses and trains, it said Tuesday morning, reversing its initial decision to continue to require them.
“The federal (Transportation Security Administration) announced it will no longer enforce a mask mandate in public transportation settings. Masks will no longer be required on NJ TRANSIT and by South Jersey Transportation Authority,” the agency said.
New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) operators “will no longer enforce its mask mandate on buses, streetcars, ferries, paratransit vehicles, and at RTA facilities,” the RTA said in a statement Tuesday.
It still recommends people wear masks in indoor transportation settings, the statement said.
The Metropolitan Transportation Agency, or MTA, will keep its mask requirement in place in accordance with the determination made in March by the New York State Department of Health, the agency said in a statement.
Orlando and Central Florida
Masks are now optional for riders on Lynx buses in and around Orlando and at its facilities, a spokesman told CNN Tuesday.
Masks are “recommended but no longer required” on Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA, vehicles and at stations and concourses, the agency tweeted Monday night.
Passengers of TriMet must still wear masks for now, the agency tweeted Monday afternoon, pointing to the TSA directive extending mask public transit mask requirements through May 3. The TSA announced Monday night it would not enforce the directive in light of the court decision.
The state’s public transportation system, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, said its drivers and passengers are no longer required to wear a mask on board, but it encourages them to continue to do so.
Seattle and Puget Sound region
Multiple transit agencies in the Puget Sound region announced they would lift their masking requirement.
Seattle’s King County Metro Transit Department said Monday in a release it was keeping its mask mandate in place, but Tuesday, the department said in an update it will no longer require masks.
Everett Transit, which serves the city of Everett, also informed riders in a Facebook post that masks would be optional.
Sound Transit, which operates transit services in Pierce, King and Snohomish Counties said in a release Tuesday that masks are no longer required on board its services.
Riders and employees of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, dubbed Metro, will no longer be required to mask up, the agency said in a statement. This includes its Metrorail, Metrobus and MetroAccess services.
CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian, Taylor Romine, Amy Simonson, Jamiel Lynch, Jenn Selva, Paradise Afshar and Theresa Waldrop contributed to this report.