Some public transit agencies in California are asking riders to continue wearing masks on buses and trains, despite a federal court ruling in Florida on Monday that struck down the masking mandate on public transportation.
The Biden administration said Monday’s court decision means that the federal order issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requiring mask use on public transit — including planes, airports, buses and trains — is not in effect at this time. The CDC still recommends the public wear masks when using public transportation.
California transit agencies scrambled to formulate messages on mask-wearing guidance and requirements on their transit systems. It was unclear Monday whether local transit officials would adopt stricter rules and require masks, but some agencies asked passengers to still wear face coverings while they await further clarification by the federal government.
Los Angeles International Airport is following the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s lead by no longer enforcing the mask requirement “in indoor public transportation settings,” said Heath Montgomery, an airport spokesman.
It will be up to each traveler to decide for themselves whether to wear a mask at the airport, Montgomery said, adding that officials encourage anyone who wants to wear a mask to continue to do so.
“We encourage everybody to be a good fellow traveler to everybody else and respect the choices they make,” he said.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it is “continuing to ask riders to please wear masks on our system. We are aware of today’s ruling and waiting for further guidance from the federal government,” spokesman Dave Sotero said in a statement.
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation, which runs the DASH bus service in downtown L.A. and Commuter Express lines across the region, said it is continuing to ask riders to wear masks, pending further review.
But Metrolink, a commuter rail service system for Southern California, said masks are no longer required aboard its trains or at its stations “effective immediately.”
However, spokesman Scott Johnson said the CDC “still recommends that people continue to wear masks in indoor public transportation settings.”
“We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust as needed, always with the safety of our riders in mind,” he said in an email.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, a spokeswoman for the Bay Area Rapid Transit commuter rail system, Alicia Trost, said it was waiting to see whether TSA will issue a formal decision that a mask-wearing directive is no longer in effect.
“If we get that, there will not be a mandate” on BART, Trost said.
San Francisco’s Muni system — which runs buses, light rail, streetcars and cable cars — said a mask order remains in effect until further guidance from the Federal Transit Administration is issued. “We’re waiting to hear more,” spokeswoman Erica Kato said.
The Associated Press and Times staff writer Gregory Yee contributed to this report.