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Vaccinated people in California don’t need to wear masks in most places — except when riding public transit. According to federal guidelines, face coverings are required for riders through Sept. 13.
However, as LAist notes, the enforcement of this guideline is mostly through the honor system. L.A. Metro spokesperson Brian Haas reportedly said the agency is focusing “more on education, rather than enforcement.” He further explained, “We do regular spot checks to see how people are complying with the face mask federal rules. Time and time again, we find that the vast majority of folks have been following the rules, which is great.”
Back in Mar., LA Metro installed numerous mask dispensers on buses, trains, and at stations to make it easier for riders who may have forgotten or misplaced their masks. Moreover, the agency will begin restoring pandemic-caused service cuts later this month, with a goal of reaching “pre-pandemic service levels” by Sep. Metro’s basic strategy is to run buses more frequently (to arrive every five to ten minutes) on more streets and reduce trip times by making fewer stops along those routes.
With the state reopening, the number of people taking local and regional transit systems is expected to continue to rise. Quoted by LAist, the current average weekday ridership on the county’s system is approaching 650,000, Haas said, compared to 1.2 million in Feb. 2020. However, reaching pre-pandemic ridership isn’t Metro’s top goal. Instead, the agency is far more interested in how those changes could affect the county’s congestion and air quality issues.
“The pandemic gave us a glimpse of what life could be like with people taking fewer car trips alone. Traffic was kind of a dream for a while here — it’s still much better than it was pre-pandemic — [and] air quality has been improved,” Haas reportedly said. “Metro wants to see if we can capitalize on that experience, and sort of not return to normal but develop a new normal, where that lighter traffic and that better air quality is a feature of L.A. and not just a quirk of a pandemic.”
Moreover, Metro is hosting vaccination sites at several regional transit hubs:
Despite an early panic regarding the use of public transportation during the pandemic, scientists said public transit was proven to be one of the most COVID-safe places to be outside the home. This is because many public transit vehicles are relatively uncrowded, well-ventilated, and usually not the site of the kind of loud conversations that can accelerate the spread of airborne particles. Moreover, the fact that most transit agencies require personal protective equipment to passengers also factors in.