An MTS trolley passenger wears a mask to guard against contracting COVID-19. Photo courtesy MTS

While masks are no longer mandatory on most airlines or at airports, the Metropolitan Transit System Tuesday was mulling its requirement for passengers on buses and rail lines to don face coverings pending further guidance from federal authorities.

The North County Transit District took time to deliberate Tuesday morning before ending the mask policy.

“Based on updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the North Country Transit District will no longer require face coverings to be worn onboard vehicles or in stations, effective immediately,” said Colleen Windsor, spokeswoman for the transit agency.

The change impacts Coaster and Sprinter trains, Breeze buses, Flex on- demand service and Lift paratransit services.

Mask-wearing requirements on transit operations were thrown into doubt Monday when U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Florida issued a ruling saying the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had exceeded its authority by mandating face coverings on mass transportation.

Most major airlines — including Southwest, Delta, American and United — quickly made mask-wearing optional in response to the ruling. The Transportation Security Administration also announced that it would no longer enforce the mask rule at airports.

According to Sabrina LoPiccolo, spokeswoman for the San Diego County Airport Authority, masks remain optional while traveling through San Diego International Airport for both passengers and employees.

“Our primary goal is to ensure the health and safety of the traveling public,” she told City News Service. “We will continue to comply with TSA guidance on masking. At this time, TSA’s mask mandate is not in effect.”

Mark Olson, MTS’ director of communications, said the agency would have an update later Tuesday afternoon.

The ride-hailing service Uber also dropped its mask mandate for drivers and passengers, saying face coverings are still recommended. Lyft had not yet issued any changes in its masking policy.

The CDC first issued an order mandating masks on public conveyances in January 2021, saying “traveling on public transportation increases a person’s risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.”

“Air travel often requires spending time in security lines and busy airport terminals,” the agency stated. “Travel by bus, train and other conveyances used for international, interstate or intrastate transportation poses similar challenges.”

Updated at 1:15 p.m. April 19, 2022

— City News Service