The former interim president of the city’s transit authority says the governor’s decision to make masks optional on subways and buses is an indication of the current conditions found in the subway system — fewer riders are wearing masks.
“I think it’s a reflection of the reality that we are seeing in the subway and on buses right now,” Sarah Feinberg said. “Anyone who’s in the system is seeing that we are not seeing nearly the masks that we used to see.”
The mask mandate for the city’s transportation system was enacted in April 2020 in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Feinberg told “News All Day” on Wednesday that the new policy might confuse riders since trains are again becoming more crowded.
“The trains are very crowded right now. I had to wait for a second train this morning during rush hour. So you got all of these folks piling back in and at that moment we’re saying no need for masks,” she said. "I think it’s very reflective of reality, but a little confusing."
Feinberg also touched on fare evasion, which could cost the MTA $500 million this year. She said the city should expand the Fair Fares program, which gives eligible low-income New Yorkers a discount.
“In my opinion, if you are going to increase enforcement of fare evasion, let’s expand that program significantly,” she said. “The state can put money in, the city can put more money in, and let’s grow that program so that this is truly not going to be a crime of poverty.”
Regarding the recent congestion pricing hearings, she said that her takeaway is that there are strong opinions involved, including many who want exemptions from paying the tolls for city and state employees. She added that the more exemptions the program has, the more expensive the tolls will be for New Yorkers.
“The state government is fully behind this. The city government is fully behind this. You can’t have those government entities saying ‘this is our policy, this is where we’re going’ and then saying ‘except for everyone who works in my office,’ she said. “That’s just not going to work."