29 Sep 2020

Mask Optional Car Notice

South Shore News

In accordance with state and local executive orders, the South Shore Line requires masks or face coverings for all passengers and employees. The SSL provides masks free of charge to all passengers and crew who need a mask.  In July, the SSL introduced a mask-optional car for those passengers who choose to not wear a mask as a response to complaints from mask-compliant passengers. Pursuant to state and local orders, certain passengers with mask exemptions (including medical/health issues) are not required to wear a mask nor are they required to move to the mask-optional car.

The state and local executive orders do not provide the SSL with clear powers of enforcement. If passengers refuse to wear masks, the transit industry standard has been to permit such passengers to ride. Without clear guidance on enforcing the orders, the SSL is unable to remove passengers who refuse to comply.  Prior to the introduction of the mask-optional car, passengers without masks were sitting next to mask-compliant passengers. Therefore, the mask-optional car was created to permit such passengers to ride while maintaining social distance from those passengers who comply. Since implementation of the mask-optional car, mask complaints have decreased dramatically, and our mask-compliant passengers appreciate the relocation of those who choose not to comply.

We continue to take further steps to ensure our passengers’ and crews’ safety, including improved sanitization procedures such as disinfecting seats, windows, crash pads, handrails, door handles, headrests, and grab handles. Each train car is mopped with a stringent disinfectant, and the SSL has also purchased state-of-the-art equipment that fogs train cars with disinfectant. Train crews are required to wear masks, social distance as much as possible, and wash hands often. To facilitate that requirement for crews and passengers, we have installed hand sanitizer stations in each train car.

The mask-optional car is located as the second car of every train, and at South Bend, you may still board the first car of the train without having to access the second car.

Indiana’s Executive Order for Face Covering Requirements, including guidance on mask exemptions, can be found here: https://www.in.gov/gov/files/Executive Order 20-37 Face Covering Requirement.pdf

Illinois’ COVID-19 Executive Order No. 30 can be found here: https://www2.illinois.gov/Pages/Executive-Orders/ExecutiveOrder2020-32.aspx

More information can also be found on the SSL mask requirement page at https://www.mysouthshoreline.com/news/item/299-mask-announcement-update-7-27-2020.