MARTA: Nearly all passengers wearing masks

Earlier this summer, MARTA estimated that only 35 percent of passengers wore masks. But MARTA has required passengers to wear masks for more than a month, and the agency believes about 90 percent are abiding by the rule. for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By David Wickert

MARTA’s recent decision to require customers to wear masks amid the coronavirus pandemic seems to be paying off.

Earlier this summer, the agency estimated that only 35 percent of customers were wearing masks – even though public health officials stress masks are effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19. But after hesitating to require masks, MARTA did an about-face last month and vowed to enforce Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance-Bottoms’ citywide mask requirement.

Now, MARTA estimates that about 90 percent of passengers are wearing masks.

Another measure of compliance: MARTA is having a hard time giving away masks.

Last month the agency announced that it would give away two million masks to customers to encourage their use. To date, MARTA has given away just 380,194 masks.

“So many people are wearing masks that we just don’t have the need out there (to give them away),” CEO Jeffrey Parker told the MARTA Board last week. “I think we’re in a really, really good spot.”

MARTA had been reluctant to require customers to wear masks for fear of sparking confrontations between its employees and angry customers. But spokeswoman Stephany Fisher said there have been no confrontations since MARTA began requiring masks more than a month ago. She said police have not removed any customers for not wearing masks.

The agency also worried about turning away customers who didn’t have easy access to masks. The mask give-away was designed to ensure that didn’t happen.

“Masks are still required on MARTA as part of our ‘ride with respect’ policy,” Fisher said. “If an issue arises with compliance, MARTA police will assist.”

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