What the future may look like for NJ Transit and masks

Travel Maven

According to reports online, The Biden administration has recently announced it will be extending the mask mandate requirements on mass transit until May 3rd. The mandate, which took effect during the pandemic, was set to expire today, April 18th.

The mask mandate remains one of the most visible signs of government containment of the virus and one of the most controversial. Over the years, surges of abusive and oftentimes violent incidents have occurred on airplanes and other forms of transportation over mask-wearing disputes.

Train StationCharles Forerunner/Unsplash

Covid cases have fallen significantly since the Omnicron spike back in January of this year. The decrease in cases has resulted in a rollback of rules requiring masks in public spaces including restaurants, stores, and other indoor settings.

However, on April 17th, NJ.com reported that a commuter advocate and fellow passenger has asked NJ Transit officials to consider designating just one car on each train where face coverings or masks would be required to be worn. This train would specifically accommodate passengers with immunodeficiency diseases or other health issues that might make them more susceptible to COVID-19.

Reich has made this same request in the past, and as of April 13th, garnered the support of a few NJ Transit board members.

This proposed idea would allow riders a lot more flexibility when it comes to covid precautions with public transportation. Similar in nature to the quiet car, which is available on all Amtrak, NJ Transit, LIRR, and MetroNorth trains that give riders the choice of riding in silence.

The request for a flexible model like this comes as cases and transmission rates are still considered low by the state.

New Jersey has reported 2 new cases as of Sunday and a total of 1,818 positive cases that same weekend. The state’s seven-day average for cases has been up 23% from a week ago and up 170% from a month ago, which some blame on the rise of the COVID-19 strain, BA.2, which accounts for over 80% of positive cases.

Only time will tell whether or not mask optional train cars will come to fruition. NJ Transit ridership has increased significantly since pandemic numbers in 2020. With more riders, comes more risk so critics may be against the new proposed idea.

According to NJ.com, as of right now, NJ Transit board member James D. Adams has asked transit staff to report on the feasibility of having just one face-covering only car on trains.

Would your health/safety feel at risk under this new mask model? Let us know in the comments section.

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