Masks are no longer mandatory on most airlines or at airports, but Metro Tuesday said passengers on Los Angeles County buses and rail lines must continue to don face coverings pending further guidance from federal authorities.
However, Metrolink officially dropped its mask mandate on commuter trains and stations.
Mask-wearing requirements on transit operations were thrown into doubt Monday when U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Florida issued a ruling saying the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had exceeded its authority by mandating face-coverings on mass transportation.
Most major airlines — including Southwest, Delta, American and United — quickly made mask-wearing optional in response to the ruling. The Transportation Security Administration also announced that it would no longer to enforce the mask rule at airports — hence face coverings are now optional at Los Angeles International Airport, Hollywood Burbank Airport and John Wayne Airport in Orange County.
But local transit agencies were still trying to determine the effect of the federal judge’s decision on county or state-level transportation systems.
Metro, therefore, has kept its mask mandate in place on buses and trains, with its website proclaiming, “Per federal law face masks are still required to ride on all buses and trains.”
The agency informed passengers it was awaiting further guidance from the Federal Transit Administration on whether face coverings should still be required. The Los Angeles city Department of Transportation was also still asking passengers to wear masks on its DASH and Commuter Express buses.
The Orange County Transportation Authority was also continuing to require masks.
Metrolink officials, however, opted to drop the mandate, making it only a recommendation.
The ride-hailing service Uber also dropped its mask mandate for drivers and passengers, saying face coverings are still recommended. Lyft had not yet issued any changes in its masking policy.
The CDC first issued an order mandating masks on public conveyances in January 2021, saying “traveling on public transportation increases a person’s risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.”
“Air travel often requires spending time in security lines and busy airport terminals,” the agency stated. “Travel by bus, train and other conveyances used for international, interstate or intrastate transportation poses similar challenges.”
Mask mandates have slowly been lifted in many settings in recent weeks. Los Angeles County and the state have scrapped requirements for masks at outdoor and indoor mega-events, and face coverings are no longer mandatory in most indoor environments.
Mask requirements inside school classrooms have also been lifted, and face coverings are now only strongly recommended at L.A. County campuses. Masks are also “strongly recommended,” but not required, on school buses.
The county still requires masks at health-care facilities.