Graham Kilmer
Transportation

Amtrak, Buses, Uber Requiring Masks

Train, bus and ride share companies taking various steps to combat the pandemic.

By - May 16th, 2020 11:37 am
An Amtrak Hiawatha Service train crosses N. Plankinton Ave. near the Milwaukee Intermodal Station. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

An Amtrak Hiawatha Service train crosses N. Plankinton Ave. near the Milwaukee Intermodal Station. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

As social restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 start to be peeled back, more of us will be out and about in the coming days and weeks. As travel starts to pick up, it’s worth noting some of the restrictions are still in place and still important.

A number of transit providers have already cancelled or limited services during the pandemic. And all of them have instituted guidelines for social distancing and hygiene, like washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes, and, most importantly, staying home if you’re sick.

But some have begun to require face masks, too. Amtrak, Lyft and Greyhound buses are implementing requirements that passengers wear some type of cloth face mask. While others, like the Milwaukee County Transit System, are recommending their passengers wear masks.

In a statement, Amtrak’s CEO Bill Flynn said that safety is a top priority for the company “and requiring a facial covering is one more way we can protect everyone.” This new policy for Amtrak requires a face covering on trains, in stations and buses.

The CDC recommends the wearing of face masks and coverings wherever other social distancing measures are difficult, like in grocery stores. Confined spaces like trains, buses and cars definitely meet this standard.

Face coverings help limit the spread COVID-19 by protecting those around you from coming in contact with your respiratory droplets. 

You may think you don’t need to protect others from your respiratory droplets because you’re not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. But as Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services for Milwaukee County explained, “One of the most contagious periods with COVID-19 is actually before you even develop symptoms.”

“So as a reminder, while not a substitute for physical distancing these masks provide an additional level in minimizing the spread of respiratory droplets,” Weston said during a media briefing.

Ride-share companies Lyft and Uber have also announced mask requirements. Uber’s begins next week. Lyft said it will institute a mask requirement by the end of the month. Greyhound has also announced that as of this week it will begin requiring passengers to wear a face covering on its buses.

Many of these transit providers, and the CDC, recommend homemade face coverings. Medical grade personal protective equipment like surgical masks and N95 respirators should be saved for healthcare workers and first responders.

Still, access to masks can be difficult. MCTS, a public transit service, has not instituted a mask requirement. Instead, its latest pandemic guidelines recommend passengers wear a mask or other type of cloth covering their nose and mouth.

MCTS has stopped collecting fares. And it has instituted a number of restrictions, like social distancing on the bus, not riding if you are sick and limiting rides to essential trips only. And it limits all buses to 10 passengers. So if your bus doesn’t stop, that’s why.

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Categories: Health, Transportation

One thought on “Transportation: Amtrak, Buses, Uber Requiring Masks”

  1. steenwyr says:

    Wonder when Hiawatha trips might return to MKE?

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