Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit riders will be required to wear face masks as of 8 p.m. Friday, according to a TCAT press release.
The mandate comes from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D-N.Y.) executive order — announced in a Wednesday press conference — which requires all people in New York State to cover their mouth and nose when in public and in close proximity to others.
On April 16, the governor’s office issued an updated version of the executive order specifying that all people on public transportation must wear masks, regardless of their proximity to others, according to the press release.
The order permits the use of mask types varying from medical masks to bandanas. Children younger than 2 years old and people who are medically unable to cover their faces are exempted from the order.
“We are asking TCAT riders to please follow Gov. Cuomo’s orders to help protect their fellow riders and bus operators as we all continue to grapple with this pandemic,” said General Manager Scot Vanderpool in the press release. “The face-covering order has enough flexibility to allow people to use materials they already own without having to spend money.”
As of April 15, New York has required bus operators and all front-line essential workers to cover their faces while carrying passengers in their vehicles, the release stated.
TCAT’s service has been drastically reduced since March. On March 30, services were cut for most routes by 7 p.m. On April 6, TCAT extended its no fare policy until May 23, the end of the transportation service’s spring service season.
In the same April 6 announcement, Vanderpool also asked people to avoid using public transportation unless they are essential workers. “This is probably the first time in history that transit agencies all over the globe are asking their riders to stay home,” Vanderpool said in the announcement.
Most of TCAT’s ridership consists of college and university affiliated people — Cornell staff, faculty and students alone make up 70 percent of ridership.
Since April 6, TCAT has imposed a 20-rider limit on buses, and asked people to stay as far away from one another as possible while riding the bus.