When mask mandates end, lawyer asks NJ Transit to have face-only car

Mandates for masks and face coverings inside transit vehicles, airplanes, airports and indoor stations have been extended by federal authorities once again through May 3, but a commuter is considering what will happen when he is abandoned for good.

A commuter advocate and passenger asked NJ Transit officials to consider designating a car on each train where face coverings or masks should be worn, to accommodate passengers with immunodeficiency diseases or other health issues that could make them susceptible to COVID-19.

“It would be comforting to people with health issues, and it would reflect the quiet car, having only one car,” said Adam Reich, a commuter on the Northeast Corridor line. “Is it under study?

Reich made the request in the past, when the Federal Centers for Disease Control’s deadline for its mask mandate on public transit vehicles, airplanes and indoor facilities was about to expire. Last week, the CDC extended the mandate until May 3.

Reich’s request won board support on April 13 to investigate the matter further.

Board member James D. Adams asked NJ Transit staff to report to them on the possibility of having a face-only car on trains.

The model would be the silent car, where passengers are asked to refrain from cell phone use, loud conversations, music and other noise. NJ Transit is a model after that of Amtrak, except that on this railway, the crews apply the rule. On NJ Transit, compliance on Long Island Rail Road and Metro North is voluntary, although crews remind people they’re in a quiet car.

That doesn’t mean it always works and social media has examples of riders complaining about the noise and inflexibility. Train crews also say they are caught in the crossfire between passengers who want quiet car rules enforced in the sole refuge from noise and passengers who want to do whatever they want.

The request comes as COVID-19 transmission rates in the state are considered low under recently updated guidelines from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is no longer recommended that healthy people in the lower and middle categories wear masks, except in confined spaces inside public transport vehicles and airplanes.

New Jersey reported two new COVID-19[feminine] deaths and 1,508 confirmed positive tests as confirmed cases continue to decline on Sunday. A total of 1,818 confirmed positive tests were reported on Saturday.

The state’s seven-day average for confirmed cases rose to 1,707 on Sunday, up 23% from a week ago and 170% from a month ago, which some attribute to the rise of BA.2, the new strain of COVID-19, has been spreading in New Jersey for weeks and accounts for 81.2% of the positive tests sampled.

To mitigate the low rate of transmission, the increasingly high ridership rates that NJ Transit officials have reported on trains and buses as people begin to return to workplaces, even if not is only a few days a week. If there is an informal measure of passenger concern, it could be the rising level of ridership on the windy NY Waterway ferries, which on April 13 hit 15,000 daily weekday passengers for the first time. since COVID-19 hit.

“If it doesn’t work, it could be canceled,” Reich said when he pitched the idea to officials in late March. “The warrant could be lifted. You have to be ready to act.”

Please sign up now and support the local journalism YOU rely on and trust.

Larry Higgs can be reached at [email protected].

Comments are closed.