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MTA 'Mask Force' Begins Distribution of 60,000 Child-Size Masks Throughout the Subway System

Updated April 5, 2021 2:00 p.m.
Child-Sized Masks Mask Force

Cloth Masks Donated to MTA by New York State Also Available at All Station Booths 


View Photos of Today’s Pop-Up Mask Force 


Leaders from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) participated in a pop-up “Mask Force” event today in the Bronx to begin handing out free child-size masks. MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye and MTA Chief Accessibility Officer Quemuel Arroyo, along with New York City Transit volunteers began distributing free child-size cloth masks throughout the subway system. Masks were distributed to booths at 472 stations and the St. George Staten Island Railway station, and are available to riders at no charge. Thousands of masks are also being handed out by the Mask Force.  

Mask usage throughout the system has exceeded 98% and free masks are available through various means including Mask Force, ambassador programs, free availability at stations, free mask dispensers on buses, and PPE vending machines across the MTA network.  

“I want to thank New York State for the donation of 60,000 masks that will allow all of our customers to protect themselves and their fellow riders when they enter the transit system,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye. “Mask usage, along with vaccines and testing bring hope that we can return some sense of normalcy and combat the spread of COVID-19.” 

“We are grateful to receive this donation of soft, washable, reusable masks, and to be able to do everything we can to ensure everyone in the system is masked, including our youngest customers,” said NYC Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg. “Not only is wearing a mask the law in New York, but it is a sign of respect to your fellow riders and can save lives.” 

“With this donation from New York State, even the smallest subway riders can mask up and keep their fellow riders safe,” said MTA Chief Customer Officer Sarah Meyer. “We’re grateful to our Mask Force volunteers who have handed out more than 600,000 masks, and anyone who wants to be a part of this great initiative is encouraged to join.”

“Ensuring that every person who enters our system has access to a mask continues to be a top priority,” said MTA Chief Accessibility Officer Quemuel Arroyo. “As riders continue to return to the system, we want to make sure they know that masks are available at no cost at station booths and by the Mask Force.” 

“It is important that we welcome families back to transit safely by providing free child-size masks,” said family advocacy group “UP-STAND” Founder and CEO Christine Serdjenian Yearwood. “This will serve to protect our city’s children and all of their close contacts while we continue to vaccinate adults. We thank the MTA and the Advisory Committee for Transit Accessibility for hearing our concerns and addressing this need quickly.” 

More than 920 people have volunteered for the MTA Mask Force since its inception. The volunteers include top MTA officials and other employees, elected officials and their staffs, advocates, community board members and members of the riding public. The program is based in 10 subway stations for maximum line coverage and the busiest bus hubs with broad coverage across New York City. 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 https://new.mta.info/maskforce

Across agencies to date, the MTA has acquired for distribution to customers eight million masks and 750,000 2-oz bottles of hand sanitizer. Additionally, the Authority has distributed to its workforce 18 million masks, 19.7 million pairs of gloves, 119,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, 257,000 7-oz and 2-oz bottles of hand sanitizer, 13.3 million individual sanitizing cleaning wipes, 268,000 gallons of cleaning solution and 18,000 face shields. 

To date, the MTA has held nine “Mask Force” events. The 10th event is scheduled for April 22. Wearing a face covering on public transportation in New York was required by law under Executive Order 202.18 issued by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo effective April 17, 2020. A $50 fine was implemented on Sept. 14, 2020 for violations. As a reminder, customers who are partially or fully vaccinated are required to wear a mask while in the transit system.