BART riders, employees must go back to wearing masks

BART riders and employees must wear masks on trains and at station platforms until July 18 under a new mandate approved Thursday by the board of directors. 

The rule takes effect immediately. 

Seven directors voted in favor of bringing back the mask mandate and two directors, Robert Rayburn and Debora Allen, abstained.

"I strongly support requiring a mask to ride BART to keep all our riders safe," BART Board President Rebecca Saltzman said. "I’m especially concerned for our riders who are immunocompromised, people with underlying health conditions, and children under the age of five who are not yet eligible for vaccination." 

The reinstatement of the masks comes after a federal judge in Florida earlier this month tossed out a national mask mandate for public transit systems and airlines.

The vote made community member Peter Straus pleased.

He told the board that he was concerned about taking BART from San Francisco to Berkeley to see a play because the "virus is very much with us." 

The newly voted on rules means that riders and employees must wear masks in paid areas of the system with limited exceptions, meaning trains and all portions of the stations beyond the fare gates.

As with the previous federal mandate, BART PD will continue its education-based enforcement of the mask requirement by offering free masks to anyone who needs one before taking any enforcement action which could include a citation up to $75 or being ejected from the paid area. 

BART has installed special air filters on all train cars, which are dense enough to trap the virus and provide an extra layer of protection to our riders. Air is replaced every 70 seconds onboard cars mixing filtered air with fresh air, BART said. 

In addition, all BART employees are fully vaccinated.