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CENTRO keeps its public transport mask mandate in place

CENTRO bus in Syracuse
Max Mimaroglu
Centro Bus Hub downtown Syracuse. 2/11/22. (Photo by Max Mimaroglu)

The New York State Health Department is still requiring masks on public transit, so Monday’s federal ruling doesn’t change anything for Centro, its employees, and its customers. This comes as Onondaga County has seen COVID-19 hospitalizations double over the past three weeks and is now considered a high-risk area by the CDC.

Centro’s Vice President of Communications Steve Koegel said this ruling has confused bus riders this week.

"There are individuals who heard about the court ruling who made some assumptions, perhaps, that masks were no longer required. But we've had no issues, complying still continues to be very strong with masking on our buses."

Koegel adds that Centro will keep providing masks for customers, and they'll enforce the mandate accordingly. But, he says the buses are still not nearly as full as they used to be.

"Our ridership compared to pre-pandemic levels is still about 50% to 55% of where they were. There's a lot of reasons why our ridership is affected, and one of the significant reasons is that there are still a lot of people working remotely. A lot of people that used to use our buses are no longer there because they have no reason to commute."

Koegel says Centro workers and drivers have mixed feelings on the mask mandate for public transit and there’s no real consensus about it. Governor Kathy Hochul said the state mandate will stay in place for the short term, but hasn’t offered a specific timetable on when it may end.