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MTA Leadership and Members of ‘Mask Force’ Hand Out Pink Masks for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to Promote COVID-19 Safety

Updated October 19, 2021 7:45 p.m.

Mask Compliance Throughout the System at 90 Percent Following Increased Enforcement 


More Than 200 Volunteers Marks the Largest Single-Day “Mask Force” Participation Since Program Began in July 2020 


See Photos of Today’s Mask Force Event  


Leaders from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) joined MTA staff and volunteers and elected officials in distributing tens of thousands of free pink masks throughout the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and NYC Transit subway system. This is the second year members of the “Mask Force” have handed out pink masks during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

Since its inception, more than 1,200 New Yorkers have participated in the MTA Mask Force, handing out about 850,000 masks. Today, more than 200 volunteers distributed masks – the largest single-day participation for Mask Force. 

Mask usage across the MTA network has increased to the 90% range. Latest surveys show that subway mask usage is back at 90%, while mask usage onboard buses remains strong at 94%. On commuter rails, mask usage on the LIRR is approximately 92% and on Metro-North it is approximately 95%. Masks are still required onboard trains, buses, paratransit vehicles, and at indoor stations regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.  

“With more and more riders returning to the system, it is vital to remind everyone that masks are still required while riding with us,” said MTA Acting Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “And by handing out pink masks this month, we are also honoring those who have been affected by breast cancer.” 

“Wearing a pink mask this month means riders can protect themselves and others from COVID while raising awareness for the fight against breast cancer,” said MTA Chief Customer Officer Sarah Meyer. “I’m proud to be one of the hundreds of Mask Force volunteers ensuring every person who riders the train or bus has access to a free mask.”  

Mask Force volunteers, MTA staff and elected officials today are at the following stations:       

Long Island Rail Road     

  • Atlantic Terminal 

  • Babylon 

  • Hicksville 

  • Jamaica  

  • Penn Station  

  • Ronkonkoma 

  • Woodside 

Metro-North Railroad     

  • 125 St 

  • Grand Central Terminal  

  • Peekskill 

  • Tuckahoe 

  • Westport 

New York City Transit  

  • 74 St-Roosevelt Av-Jackson Hts  

  • E 180 St 

  • Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr  

  • Coney Island-Stillwell Av 

  • Times Square-42 St 

  • St George SIR 

The MTA has acquired for distribution to employees and customers 39.4 million masks to date. In addition to the 12 million masks available for customers, the Authority has also made available 750,000 2-oz bottles of hand sanitizer. Additionally, the Authority has distributed to its workforce 27.4 million masks, 30.5 million pairs of gloves, 146,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, 290,000 7-oz and 2-oz bottles of hand sanitizer, 16.8 million individual sanitizing cleaning wipes, 358,000 gallons of cleaning solution and 22,000 face shields.   

Employees and volunteers wear bright yellow t-shirts and vests identifying them as part of the team. To sign up to volunteer for the MTA Mask Force, visit new.mta.info/maskforce.  

The MTA first launched its Mask Force in July 2020 in order to supplement its existing distribution of masks in the transit system and acknowledge customers who are already compliant. Wearing a face covering on public transportation in New York was required by law under Executive Order 202.18. A $50 fine was implemented on Sept. 14, 2020 for violations.     

Under updated CDC guidance, face masks are required on nearly all forms of public transportation through at least January 18, 2022, regardless of vaccination status. Masks are no longer required on outdoor NYC Transit platforms, outdoor Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and Staten Island Railway stations and platforms, and bus stops.