Metro to provide 500,000 masks for local commuters on trains, buses

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WMATA announced its own mask mandate back in May, but transit officials haven’t been heavily enforcing the rule, according to DCist.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will start passing out 500,000 cloth masks to local commuters next month, DCist reported.

Metro received the masks from the U.S. Department of Transportation and will individually wrap each face covering when officials distribute them at “major stations and bus transfer points,” according to DCist. The announcement Thursday comes a day after Mayor Muriel Bowser signed an executive order requiring masks to be worn when local residents leave the house.

Paul Wiedefeld, the general manager and CEO of WMATA, said he hopes the masks will prevent disputes between transit officials and commuters who may not wear their own face coverings on trains or buses.

“We hope that people take one as they see fit, and hopefully everyone self-polices,” he said.

WMATA announced its own mask mandate back in May, but transit officials haven’t been heavily enforcing the rule, according to DCist. Metropolitan Transit Police Department officers have previously been handing out masks as needed, DCist reported.

The report states it is “unclear” when officials will distribute the masks and how they will share them with commuters.

Metro ridership has hit an average of 130,000 daily passengers this summer, despite the agency’s claims that it can only handle 85,000 on a single day under social distancing guidelines, the report states. WMATA officials announced Monday that the agency will continue to bump capacity up to 70 percent on trains and buses starting next month.

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