With New York's new order to wear masks or face-coverings—when you might be in contact with others—in effect, the MTA has rolled out its own public service campaign to remind mass transit riders to heed the imperative.
Called “Keep Them Covered," the messaging will appear on "more than 4,000 screens across the NYC Subway, 2,600 screens on buses, and 550 screens on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad," according to the agency. The campaign will also appear on signs on buses and paratransit vehicles.
“This executive order follows our efforts, leading the country, to keep our customers and employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Patrick Warren, MTA Chief Safety Officer, in a statement. “Wearing the face covering is critical to protecting public health and could ultimately save lives.”
Further, there's an audio announcement that lets "customers – healthcare workers, first responders and other essential personnel – making their way throughout the system" know they should "wear a face covering as the MTA has observed the majority of its customers already doing."
Currently, due to New York's state at home order which tells non-essential workers to stay at home, MTA ridership is down by 80%. However, those still riding include those "healthcare workers, first responders and other essential personnel," so the MTA is offering a reduced schedule that is essentially, as we reported yesterday, "75 percent of its regular service, for just 5-6% of the usual riders."
The MTA now expects to lose nearly $8 billion in revenue this year, amidst the loss of customer revenue and increased costs including increased cleaning of stations and rolling stock.
A press release from the MTA stated, "The MTA has been a national leader among transportation agencies in taking aggressive action to battle the COVID-19 pandemic since the early days of its arrival in New York. In order to protect employees, the MTA disregarded federal guidance and began handing out masks to all employees before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention later issued new guidance recommending all Americans wear masks. The MTA has also strongly recommended all riders wear a face covering since March 2, well in advance of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issuing guidelines for all Americans to wear masks."
A subway train operator told Gothamist in early March that his supervisor asked him not to wear a respirator mask for fearing of panicking the public.
At least 68 transit workers have died due to COVID-19.