Masks no longer required on Spokane Transit Authority buses

SPOKANE, Wash. – People riding Spokane Transit Authority buses no longer have to put on face-coverings starting Tuesday.

A spokesperson said masks are now “welcomed” on their buses, a switch from what the transit agency said Monday afternoon.

STA still required masks on its buses Monday following the federal announcement, wanting to wait for the Transportation Security Administration or the Federal Transit Administration to put out guidance.

“There was a lot of information flowing, but we were still looking for that TSA or FTA guideline. That was finally issued late last night and we were able to send that out to employees and customers this morning,” said Brandon Rapez-Betty, the chief operations officer for STA.

It’s still clear the decision was made quickly through signs that were still posted on STA buses saying masks are required, even though they’re not. STA said it will take a few days to take those down.

“We’ve been prepared for this day to come, not the way it came, but we’ve been prepared for the day that masks would end. What we want people to understand is masks are still welcome on STA,” Rapez-Betty said.

The change happened so fast, bus rider Jon Santiago didn’t know until 4 News Now asked him for his thoughts.

“That’s awesome. I like it. Good idea,” Santiago said.

There were a mix of people wearing masks and those without Tuesday morning. Some decided to continue wearing them because of health issues. For others, it was a personal preference.

The CDC extended the mask mandate through May 3, however, a federal judge in Florida struck down the Biden administration’s mask mandate for public transportation including planes and buses.

“I think that the CDC, if they require it, they have the education to say, not a federal judge,” said Craig Walter, who wore a mask in the STA Plaza.

STA says it is prepared to turn around and put the “mask required” signs back up if another ruling comes down. On Tuesday afternoon, the Department of Justice said it would appeal the judge’s ruling if the CDC still feels the mask mandate is still needed for transportation.

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