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Not maskless yet: Public transportation still requires face coverings despite lifted restrictions

Buses, planes and trains are regulated by the federal government, not the state.

As restrictions are lifted across the state, there are parts of our day that won't be fully back to normal just yet. Public and mass transportation still require passengers to wear masks.

"If I get on the bus, I don’t know if that person has had a vaccine or not," said Connie, a passenger waiting for the Rapid. "I ask to sit in the back of the bus, I don’t sit among people.” 

Connie takes the Rapid every day. She says being immunocompromised, it makes her feel more comfortable to see other passengers wearing masks. Not everyone feels the same way.

“I think that now that the mask mandate is lifted, the government and public transportation should be more understanding,” says Kendra Shuck, another passenger. 

Public transit like the Rapid, along with mass transit like airlines and trains, are all mandated by the federal government and the TSA, not the state of Michigan. That means even if you don’t need a mask where you’re going, you may need one getting there.

“When we serve the community, we try to do it as safely as possible, and those decisions are made above our head,” says Tom Burghardt.

Burghardt drives for Harbor Transit. He says once the restrictions are lifted, he’ll be first in line to take his mask off, but he can handle a little more waiting.

"Most of us do this job because we love the community and love serving it," he says. "If it takes wearing a mask, that’s what we’re going to do."

The current TSA restrictions are scheduled to end Sept. 13, which would end mask restrictions for air travel, trains and buses.

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