Metro to make masks mandatory for riders, starting Monday

Until now it has been recommended, but Metro’s general manager said all passengers will be required to wear at least a cloth face covering on trains and buses, as of Monday, May 18, to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld on Thursday told the Metro Board of Directors that requiring a mask, which can be made of cloth or other materials, is consistent with what Maryland and the District have done.

“We think regionwide, from an operational standpoint, this needs to be done,” he said.

“Our customers have overwhelmingly said they expect to see masks on the system, before they would consider using it, so I think it’s a necessary and wise step to take.”

In addition, Wiedefeld said bus drivers and train operators need protection from the coronavirus.

“This is a major concern for our employees as they operate the system,” said Wiedefeld.

“They feel the brunt of a lot of exposure, and they want the added comfort level that other people are also contributing to solving this issue.”

Wiedefeld said the emphasis will be on safety, rather than enforcement by Metro Transit Police.

“What we want to do is encourage everyone” to wear face coverings, said Wiedefeld.

“We think it’s a social responsibility, and the vast majority of people will do it, and yes, I think there will be some that won’t.”

Metro is trying to develop ways to get riders to willingly comply with the new requirement.

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He said Metro is looking to see if it has the supplies so that officers could perhaps offer a mask to someone who does not have one. He said officers will use common sense when talking with riders.

“We’re not looking to write tickets.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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