COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) is now one of the many transportation services no longer requiring face masks.
COTA said the masks are optional for both customers and employees, with some saying that, depending on how many people are on the bus, they may choose to wear a mask.
“I have mixed feelings about it,” said COTA rider Donald Vreeland.
Most people said they’re glad the decision on whether to mask up is now the customer’s decision.
“I think everybody should have the opportunity to make their own decision on that,” said customer Reginald Richardson.
Richardson said that, for the time being, he’s going to continue to wear a face covering when on the bus.
“I’m going to give it a little time and be patient and wait to see what’s going to happen,” he said.
And Richardson was not alone.
“I’m still going to wear it, to be honest, because I want to keep myself safe,” said Owen Abbey, another COTA customer. I’ve gotten COVID before and I know how bad it is when I get it, so I’m going to keep it just as a precaution, but I mean everyone… it’s their choice.”
COTA’s decision to make masks optional comes after a federal court ruling in Florida and the Transportation Security Administration saying it will no longer be enforcing a mandate.
“Oh, man, I felt relief,” said Tyson Brown, a 13-year COTA bus operator and vice-president of the TWU Local 208, the local transportation workers’ union. “These past two years have been very stressful with trying to enforce the policy, with everybody wearing a mask and not everybody wants to wear the mask, you know, that cause problems on the drivers, when we have to enforce the policy.”
Brown said he’s had three arguments with passengers who didn’t want to mask up and know of other drivers who had more.
“I think days are going to get a lot easier because, like I said, it’s one less headache we have to worry about,” he said.
COTA is asking for patience from customers as the authority said it could take a day or so for this new information to get around to the whole community.