NJ Transit is joining New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Port Authority, Amtrak and SEPTA to create a 'Mask Force' meant to encourage everyone to wear masks while riding on public transportation.

During a news conference at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub in New York City, NJ Transit President Kevin Corbett said he’s glad to be part of the Mask Force, and whenever you ride NJ Transit “please wear the mask.”

He said as NJ Transit works hard to make sure rail cars are sanitized and safe, but passengers must do their part as well.

“If you are sick, please stay home," he said. "Otherwise if you are coming to any of our facilities, any of our bus, light rail or rail, make sure you have the mask on."

Corbett said that’s the single most important thing you can do to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“We are glad to have people coming back. We see ridership start to come back,” he said. “But it is really important that people do wear the mask.”

He said there have been more than 1,600 incidents involving NJ Transit police interacting with the public, promoting mask use.

"All our officers have masks, our bus drivers and our major terminals and facilities have masks if they need them, so there’s no excuse not to have them," he said.

MTA and Port Authority police have issued a limited number of $50 fines for passengers not wearing masks. NJ Transit police have the authority to do the same, but Corbett did not mention fines in his prepared remarks. Calls to NJ Transit seeking comment about whether the agency had issued any citations were not immediately answered Tuesday.

Last month, a spokesman said no fines had yet been issued for not wearing face coverings on buses or trains, or in stations, saying NJ Transit police “have been able to successfully resolve any compliance issues without the need for summonses. The spokesman said NJ Transit police officers are equipped with masks that they distribute regularly to those who need them.

Corbett stressed wearing a mask while riding a bus or train may not be the most comfortable thing in the world, but said it’s the right thing to do.

“We know about COVID fatigue. I think all of us feel it one time or the other,” he said. “But there’s no excuse, with the winter coming — just keep the mask on. You’re safe riding Transit.”

Corbett also said while NJ Transit is already making sure all vehicles and station areas are properly cleaned at least once a day, the agency is working closely with Rutgers on the best technologies to disinfect the facilities.

He added “working together we can definitely succeed in slowing the spread as we get life back to normal, as we look forward going into the New Year.”

As part of the state's "Safe NJ" initiative, NJ Transit uses high-visibility signage throughout the its system to maintain awareness of recommended best practices for life in the pandemic. A primary focus of the “SAFE NJ” campaign reinforces the state's requirement to wear masks when in public and social distancing isn't possible.

Additionally NJ Transit has teams of "customer service ambassadors" at a number of stations reminding customers to maintain social distancing and to wear face coverings onboard vehicles, in stations and on platforms, and to refrain from eating or drinking on vehicles. The ambassadors also provide free masks to those who need them.

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