ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – While the state’s public health order has changed over the course of the past year, the federal government’s mask mandate on public transportation has been constant and is being extended through next year. So, how is it being followed in Albuquerque?
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The Transportation Security Administration is serious about its mandate, recently increasing the fine to up to $3,000 for repeat offenders. From buses to planes, masks are required on all public transport and at their transportation hubs. The City of Albuquerque and bus regulars said most do comply with the mandate on city buses, but not all.
“The drivers require it. But on almost every bus I’m on, somebody tries to get on without one,” said Robert Harnack, who said he takes the bus almost every day.
Video from late last month shows Mary Figueroa refusing to wear a mask and swearing at officers on the ART bus. After more yelling and swearing, she gets off the bus. She wasn’t cited for not wearing a mask but was cited for damage to property after throwing a ‘baseball-sized’ rock at the bus windshield, cracking it.
Like city buses, the Rail Runner said most passengers do wear masks. “For the most part, people are more than happy to put masks on when they get on the Rail Runner,” said Augusta Meyers, communications manager for the New Mexico Rail Runner Express.
However, since returning to full service in May, the Rail Runner has had to remove about six passengers for not wearing a mask. “That simply occurs when you know, one of our ticket agents or conductors sees that somebody’s not in compliance, they’ll ask them to put a mask on. If that person refuses, we have to have them removed at the next stop,” said Meyers.
A spokesperson with the Albuquerque Sunport said most travelers do wear masks or put one on when asked. According to TSA, there have been no citations given at the Sunport for not wearing a mask.
There also have been no citations given on city buses or the Rail Runner since drivers, ticket agents and even local officers onboard cannot issue the federal citation. TSA said local law enforcement can take a report then refer it to TSA who then decides whether to issue a fine. The federal mask mandate is in effect through January 18, 2022.