Covid Mask Mandate for Transportation

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Status
Not open for further replies.

AmtrakBlue

Engineer
Gathering Team Member
Joined
May 6, 2011
Messages
13,801
Location
Delaware
But their website page for masking does not say in rooms is ok to be maskless (I'm not arguing about not wearing a mask in the rooms - as I did not wear mine in my rooms on my trips).
But he said "Amtrak website stated it clear you dont need mask in sleepers ONLY."
Here's what I found on the website
Federal law requires all customers and employees to wear a mask at all times while onboard trains and in stations, regardless of vaccination status or state or local laws. Refusing to wear a mask is a violation of federal law; passengers may be subject to penalties under federal law, denied boarding, removed from the train and banned from future travel in the event of noncompliance.
Learn more about face coverings.
Neck gaiters, open-chin triangle bandanas, face shields, and masks containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind do not qualify as acceptable face coverings. Face masks can be removed briefly while actively eating, drinking or taking medication. Children under 2 years old are not required to wear a face covering. Refusing to wear a mask is a violation of federal law; passengers may be subject to penalties under federal law, denied boarding, removed from the train and banned from future travel in the event of noncompliance.
 

CraigInNC

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 9, 2013
Messages
41
I was just on the Silver Star and I wore a mask when I boarded and when I went to the diner. I did not have a mask on when I was in my roomette. The SCA did not ask me to put one on when he came by my door to greet me or ask me about dinner. He was out in the hall and was masked so it was pretty safe. I slipped to the restroom and shower without a mask but we were in the last car of the consist (with the baggage car as the caboose) and the restroom and shower were at the end so there wasn't going to be any cross traffic. I never went to the cafe car so I wasn't able to observe what the coach passengers were doing. However I was on the Capitol Limited in June and I was masked for the ride from DC to Pittsburgh.
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
4,881
My understanding and experience has been that you are ok not wearing a mask while in your room. Once leave it goes on. I forgot once or twice during a quick dash to the bathroom at night. But I suspect had I met the conductor I would have been reminded.
I wasn't. A few times on the four trains on my last trip these past few weeks, I forgot late night/early morning to put on my mask to use the bathroom down the hall and the shower room. I encountered one conductor and two other staff and nobody said anything. When our SCA or the LSA came around, they all were wearing masks and most of the time we put ours back on before opening the door (but while visible to them through the glass) or opened the door with our masks not quite up to our faces yet but on their way. Nobody said anything.
 

joelkfla

Conductor
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
1,777
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
This video from Amtrak (Facebook page) says so:

That's dated July of 2020, which was before the federal mandate requiring masks on all transportation, so I wouldn't count on it being current policy. The press release you linked was from the same time period.

BTW, is everyone else seeing the link to Facebook in Chinese?
1636868435535.png
 

SubwayNut

Conductor
Joined
Nov 17, 2011
Messages
1,555
Location
South Bend
Ignore anything old and archived regarding mask mandates on Transportation in the USA before January 29, 2021 when the Federal Mask mandate went into effect. The only exceptions today which went into effect in June are on transportation that's fully outdoors, like on the outdoor deck of a ferry boat or when on an outdoor area at a transit station like waiting on an outdoor rail platform (or in an outdoor courtyard of an airport, which do exist, Long Beach, CA that I flew out of last month had no problems letting people be maskless in the outdoor courtyard just after security, it was a great place to wait for a flight).
 
Joined
Jun 24, 2017
Messages
11
My husband and I are looking forward to the dining car again (first time with real food back) on the Zephyr. Will be able to ask the steward for a table for just the two of us? That way we would not have any concern about being seated with people who have not had the vaccine. That would be a shame, because many of our funest experiences on trains have been the conversations with people in the diner, often from different worlds with fascinating stories. I guess we could ask anyone seated with us whether they had the vaccine, and (hoping they are honest), if they said no, we could ask the steward to be moved. I'm assuming the mask policy in the diner is like in a restaurant -- off while actually eating, and you're pretty close to anyone sitting opposite you at the table. Why don't they just ask everyone to show the vax card? We're getting used to that in Chicago when entering a theatre or many other crowded places. Frankly, we have no sympathy with anyone not being vaccinated.



33

3 Comments
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
4,881
My husband and I are looking forward to the dining car again (first time with real food back) on the Zephyr. Will be able to ask the steward for a table for just the two of us? That way we would not have any concern about being seated with people who have not had the vaccine. That would be a shame, because many of our funest experiences on trains have been the conversations with people in the diner, often from different worlds with fascinating stories. I guess we could ask anyone seated with us whether they had the vaccine, and (hoping they are honest), if they said no, we could ask the steward to be moved. I'm assuming the mask policy in the diner is like in a restaurant -- off while actually eating, and you're pretty close to anyone sitting opposite you at the table. Why don't they just ask everyone to show the vax card? We're getting used to that in Chicago when entering a theatre or many other crowded places. Frankly, we have no sympathy with anyone not being vaccinated.
33

3 Comments
You won't have to ask to be seated alone. That's automatic. Instead of sitting across from each other like in a restaurant, we always sit side by side - me for the view and she because sitting backwards sometimes makes her nauseous. Since we did so on the Zephyr a week ago, the SLA asked us if we would mind if a single person who disliked sitting alone could sit with us. It was most definitely voluntary to do so. Everyone else in pairs sat across from each other so asking them to allow someone else to sit there would have been a problem because one of them would be very close beside that other person.

Asking someone to produce a Vax card is a waste of time as recent events in multiple states showed that there are too many unvaccinated people that try to pass themselves off as vaccinated so you can't trust any evidence you can't verify and verification on the train is a problem. Easier to just separate people.
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
9,506
Location
Ithaca, NY
Given that Covid is airborne, I generally wear masks pretty much 100% of the time in public. Yet I don't think taking off your mask in an Amtrak private room (when the fans are running, anyway) is really a significant risk given Amtrak's good ventilation.

I managed to find two cites from the maintenance manual for the Superliners: 72% recirculated but filtered, probably at HEPA or near-HEPA level (not 100% clear) and 38% fresh. On average the air is replaced by fresh air every 5 minutes, which is very good (far better than nearly any building).

Haven't found any references for the Viewliners, which lack the obvious "return ducts" of the Superliners, but probably have them *somewhere*. Though it always feels like the Viewliners have more fresh air than the Superliners (dunno if that's actually correct though).

So the issues with taking masks off in a private room are essentially in these categories:

(1) another infected person on train breathes out, it goes through return duct and gets to your room. Since it's filtered, this is a pretty low-risk scenario (and yet it's the highest-risk scenario I'm listing here, because this recycled air is moving during the entire trip, so it's the longest exposure).
(2) infected people outdoors on the platform during a smoke stop breath out, it goes through return duct and gets to your room. Again, the fresh air is filtered too. Pre-pandemic, the filters weren't keeping out 100% of diesel fumes or cigarette smoke though, so I'm not sure whether they're as good as the filters for recycled air. :-( I would hope Amtrak has upgraded all the filters during the pandemic. Anyway, this would only apply at station stops where people were hanging out next to the fresh air intake, which isn't particularly common.
(3) small amounts of infected air slip into the room from the hallway. Everyone's supposed to be wearing their mask in the hallway so this shouldn't happen, and there isn't much airflow from the room to the hallway... with the fans on high, which tends to force air through the room towards the hallway, this shouldn't happen.
(4) You are infected, breathe out, and your infected air passes through cracks and under the door into the hallway and infects someone else. Get a negative test before travelling, then don't worry about this possibility.

I am pretty darn paranoid but even for me, this is a remote enough set of risks that, being vaccinated, I don't think they're serious risks. Much more worried about unmasked unrelated people just sitting or standing in the same room (in the coach, cafe, or dining car, or the hallways).

Indeed, I am more worried about unmasked *outdoor* gatherings on a calm day with no wind. There are a lot of documented Covid-19 infections from outdoor events now. Outdoors isn't *magic* -- it's safer because of the wind. But there isn't always wind. Amtrak's ventilation system is, of course, making sure your roomette has wind!

As far as the federal rules go, the federal regulators just forgot that private compartments exist, and wrote the rules without thinking about them.
 

daybeers

Conductor
Joined
Jan 6, 2016
Messages
1,553
Location
NHV
It's been extended for another two weeks until May 3rd. Pretty meaningless IMO since emolyees aren't allowed to enforce it anymore except for asking people to put them on. Most of the time scary, oppressive announcements are made saying you'll be thrown off the train and possibly banned from future travel when in reality the conductor comes by to scan an unmasked passenger's ticket and they say nothing. I'd like to no longer be yelled at by annoucements, signs, and meaningless acknowledgments when I've been wearing one for the nearly two years I've been traveling on public transportation since the start of the pandemic.

It irks me that it seems new riders or long-returning riders seem to be the worst offenders. If I've worn it this whole time, for hours at a time on LD trains I might add, and the employees even more so, you can wear it for less than 10 to get to your sporting event.

Either way, without requiring high-quality masks, actual enforcement, and with the current level of those not wearing them, wearing them incorrectly, or wearing ill-fitting cloth, surgical, gaiter, or other low-quality mask, this mandate won't do much to prevent covid on public transportation.
 

rs9

Train Attendant
Joined
Dec 26, 2021
Messages
89
Location
Chicago
It's been extended for another two weeks until May 3rd. Pretty meaningless IMO since emolyees aren't allowed to enforce it anymore except for asking people to put them on. Most of the time scary, oppressive announcements are made saying you'll be thrown off the train and possibly banned from future travel when in reality the conductor comes by to scan an unmasked passenger's ticket and they say nothing. I'd like to no longer be yelled at by annoucements, signs, and meaningless acknowledgments when I've been wearing one for the nearly two years I've been traveling on public transportation since the start of the pandemic.

It irks me that it seems new riders or long-returning riders seem to be the worst offenders. If I've worn it this whole time, for hours at a time on LD trains I might add, and the employees even more so, you can wear it for less than 10 to get to your sporting event.

Either way, without requiring high-quality masks, actual enforcement, and with the current level of those not wearing them, wearing them incorrectly, or wearing ill-fitting cloth, surgical, gaiter, or other low-quality mask, this mandate won't do much to prevent covid on public transportation.
This sounds to me like "we're going to do whatever we can before we call it quits." Once the mandate is lifted, there's really no going back, in terms of public cooperation.
 

fillyjonk

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Messages
539
It's been extended for another two weeks until May 3rd. Pretty meaningless IMO since emolyees aren't allowed to enforce it anymore except for asking people to put them on. Most of the time scary, oppressive announcements are made saying you'll be thrown off the train and possibly banned from future travel when in reality the conductor comes by to scan an unmasked passenger's ticket and they say nothing. ...

Either way, without requiring high-quality masks, actual enforcement, and with the current level of those not wearing them, wearing them incorrectly, or wearing ill-fitting cloth, surgical, gaiter, or other low-quality mask, this mandate won't do much to prevent covid on public transportation.

this is how EVERYTHING goes. If you're raised to be a rule-follower, you follow the rules but have to listen to the announcements (or in some cases - deal with increasingly burdensome compliance tasks). Asking people to wear a mask is not unreasonable or draconian no matter how much some want to paint it as totalitarian.

I don't mind wearing a mask in public areas on the train too much. It's harder and less pleasant teaching in a mask - making myself heard and also dealing with my asthma and slightly restricted airflow. On the train I don't have to talk much. I've managed to make it through, from fall 2020 when we returned to teaching in-person without getting COVID and I'm sure part of that (before I was vaccinated) was credited to wearing a mask - I've had numerous exposures and tested a few times but never came up positive.

I also get that once the mandate is lifted, there's no putting it back, no matter how bad a new "wave" might be; too many people in our culture have made opposition to things like that a big part of their personalities. I think transpo leadership are just considering psychology here. So when they lift the mandate, they better be sure that the bad waves are done. (And if they aren't? A lot of us just won't travel if another one hits)
 
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
4,623
Location
Baltimore. MD
Either way, without requiring high-quality masks, actual enforcement, and with the current level of those not wearing them, wearing them incorrectly, or wearing ill-fitting cloth, surgical, gaiter, or other low-quality mask, this mandate won't do much to prevent covid on public transportation.
The point isn't to prevent every possible case and have a zero percent infection rate, it's to reduce the number of cases to the point that the health care system isn't overwhelmed. So even partial compliance has some benefit. And you don't necessarily need an N-95 mask, either to get some benefit, though, of course, the benefit is less. I have gotten a bit more relaxed about mask-wearing, but I still wear mine inside, especially in crowded places. I would consider a public transportation vehicle (plane, train, bus, ferry) a crowded indoor place, and I am particularly vigilant about masking while traveling in such conveyances. Fo me, it's no big deal, I'm just sitting there and it's not all that uncomfortable. And even if there might be yahoos out there spewing their internal microbiological ecosystem into my face, my KN-95 mask does give me some protection.
 

jebr

Enthusiastic Transit Rider
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2012
Messages
4,708
Location
"The Last Great City of the East," St. Paul, MN
A US District Court judge has struck down the CDC's mask mandate on public transportation. From Thrifty Traveler:

A U.S. District Court judge on Monday struck down the federal mask mandate on planes and in airports, but it’s unclear whether that will immediately allow travelers to go maskless for the first time in two years.

Florida U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle’s ruling struck down the year-old federal mask mandate for planes, airports and other public transportation, finding that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exceeded its regulatory authority. That decision was first reported by CNN Monday afternoon.

[...]

While Monday’s ruling immediately struck down the mask mandate, it’s unclear what that means for travelers. The Biden administration could appeal the decision to a higher court, leaving it in place. And the CDC could re-institute the order following the requirements for public comment periods they skipped when first imposing the mandate in early 2021.

As of this moment the Amtrak website still states that there's a mask requirement, and I don't think the current removal precludes Amtrak (or other transportation companies) from having their own mask mandates independent of the CDC (though with Amtrak being a quasi-governmental entity they may be impacted differently than a fully-private company.)
 

jebr

Enthusiastic Transit Rider
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2012
Messages
4,708
Location
"The Last Great City of the East," St. Paul, MN
My hunch is that transportation providers will continue with their own mask mandate until this gets sorted out - or until the Executive Order expires.

It's gonna be a mess. I do not envy anybody on the front lines who's expected to enforce mask wearing, particularly now where there's quite a bit of uncertainty (and technically is it still "by federal mandate" - verbiage I've heard a lot - if the federal mandate has been struck down?)

EDIT TO ADD: United's still requiring them pending further guidance from the federal government. First one I've heard of one way or the other in terms of reacting to the ruling.

 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
Messages
1,311
I do not envy anybody on the front lines who's expected to enforce mask wearing
Agreed. You make a good point that perhaps the safest thing for transportation providers to do is to follow whatever the courts have mandated at this point.

There is a chance that the Biden administration decides NOT to appeal. If they were inclined to let the mandate expire on May 3rd, why risk some bad case law.
 
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
4,198
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
My hunch is that transportation providers will continue with their own mask mandate until this gets sorted out - or until the Executive Order expires.
That makes sense with airlines, since you are essentially on their "private property", as is the case with other businesses in areas where mandates have been lifted that continue to require masks. Amtrak and public transit are a more interesting study, since one could argue that's public property. I can see the lawyers lining up on both sides.
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
32,325
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
It is quite possible that eventually I myself will find this post off topic and remove it. But till then....

Beyond the legal jousting I think at present there is a more fundamental problem of credibility.

CDC seems not to understand that a large population is unlikely to do something simply to allow them to assess and that too only on transportation(?). It is not obvious how they would assess what in two weeks. There has to be a deeper and more understandable reason than that to carry a significant proportion of the population along. The flattening the curve argument was a good one when it was relevant, and many more people understood that. Of course now there is virtually nothing to flatten, only to assess if something may need to be flattened months hence, and not even clear how one does that in two weeks.
 
Last edited:
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top