As ridership increases, masks still required on Philadelphia transit

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As vaccinations are rolled out across the country, SEPTA and Amtrak officials distributed free masks to riders in Philadelphia as face coverings remain a federal requirement.

Shukri Wrights of Boston already had a mask, but he got another at 30th Street Station on Thursday morning.

"We have to realize although things are getting better, we are still in the fight," Wrights said.

The ample signage and announcement about mask-wearing did not go unnoticed to James Polistina of Upper Darby.

"There are signs everywhere. Life as we used to know it is over," said Polistina.

The mask giveaway was part of Mask Force Philly.

Mask Force began with the MTA in New York, which partnered with transit officials in other states.

In January, Mask Force Philly was born.

"Ridership is creeping back; we want to keep coming back to public transit, and to Amtrak, and this is a great way to remind our customers to keep the faith-keep it going," said Kim Scott Heinle of SEPTA.

"Amtrak, of course, is a 46-state network. We serve all of America, and while states and localities may be changing some of their guidance, the guidance remains simple and consistent across the entire Amtrak network," explained Amtrak President Stephen Gardner.

Gardner said that last March and April, Amtrak lost about 97% of their business.

Since then, Gardner said the agency has stabilized and benefited from federal support.

In recent weeks, Amtrak ridership has gradually increased, and Gardner says masks help with that progress.

"We're at about 30% of our pre-pandemic demand as of today, and we'll see that hopefully continue with the rise in vaccinations," Gardner reported.
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