Side view of passenger seated on train wearing a baseball cap and mask

Transit Agencies Scramble to Decide Whether to Keep Mask Mandate

Side view of passenger seated on train wearing a baseball cap and mask
Bay Area transit agencies are largely upholding mask requirements following a court ruling against the federal mandate. Here, a passenger rides in Washington, D.C., in 2020. (Photo by Elvert Barnes on Flickr under CC BY-SA 2.0 license)

By Bay City News

A Monday ruling by a federal judge in Florida overturning mask mandates on public transportation doesn’t appear to be immediately changing local transit agency policies.

BART, the San Francisco Municipal Railway, Caltrain, The Vine transit services and Solano County Transit all say that riders and staff are still required to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at least through May 3, the previous end date for federal mask mandates.

>>>Read: As Public Transit Mask Mandate Is Extended, Local Agencies Asked to Go Further

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of Florida ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not authorized to enforce the travel and transit mask mandate. The decision has sent local agencies scrambling to determine whether to honor the federal ruling or keep masking in place.

A spokesperson for BART said that the agency is currently figuring out what to do about the sudden change in federal guidelines.

“We haven’t made an official or final determination yet,” said the BART spokesperson. “We are currently touching base with other transit agencies in the Bay Area and looking to see if there is any movement on the local, state or federal level about a mandate. Things moved quickly yesterday and the dust hasn’t settled yet.”

A spokesperson for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in Santa Clara County also said that masks are still being required “for today,” meaning Tuesday, but that the agency is currently deciding what to do about the reversed federal mandate.

Virtually all transit agencies still post a mask mandate on their websites, though it appears the posts were created before the change and not updated.

Sonoma County Transit and the Alameda-Contra Transit District, better known as AC Transit, did not respond to inquiries about current masking requirements.

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