By Sriya Reddy
Some DART riders said Tuesday that the end of the mask mandate worries them, while others believe it is a positive change as cases of COVID-19 decrease in the Dallas area.
DART as of Tuesday is no longer requiring face masks after a federal judge’s ruling ended the mandate and the Transportation Security Administration decided not to enforce it on public transportation and in transit hubs.
This comes after DART had previously said that masks would be mandated on its services until May 3. Face masks and sanitizer will remain available in DART vehicles. However, passengers and operators will not be required to wear them if they choose.
Face masks will also not be required in airports and on planes after the Monday ruling.
Thomas Crook, a bus driver for the DART shuttle at the University of Texas at Dallas, said wearing a mask should be an individual’s choice.
“It’s a common sense thing,” he said. “If you’re around a group of people, put it on. That’s what I’ll do.”
Crook said the riders who typically take his bus — students, not the general public — usually wear masks so he doesn’t have to worry about them. Overall, though, he thinks the mask mandate being lifted is a good thing.
Graduate student Krupa Modi said the end of the mask mandate on the bus doesn’t really change much. She said she’s neutral on the ruling because it was an individual’s choice anyway.
She said that she would wear a mask if she was sick. “If I know that I’m not feeling well, it should be up to me if I wear a mask or not,” Modi said. “Because if I’m coughing I should know that at least it should spread out to others.”
Angel Pham takes the bus every day and is worried about the mandate being lifted.
“It’s a little concerning since everyone is so close on a bus, like there’s no room to have any social distance,” Pham said.
Pham said she interacts with high-risk individuals regularly so masking is important to her.
The lack of a mask mandate also worries Presley Sequeira, who often takes the bus.
“I think it’s not the greatest decision because it’s known that wearing a mask can reduce your chances of transmission by like 50% or something. That’s what I read somewhere,” Sequeira said. “So I don’t think it’s the most prudent decision at all, but it should be up to people to choose and I think people should be smart enough to choose what’s right for them.”
He said that he wears his mask on the bus, in crowded spaces and in class out of precaution, but usually doesn’t wear a mask outside of those spaces.