CHICAGO (WLS) -- Despite the risks, many people across Chicago still rely on the CTA to get around. But some CTA bus drivers say many of their passengers are refusing to wear masks.
In Chicago, people are required to wear masks in public places and that includes CTA buses, if social distancing is not possible.
ABC7 spoke with a few bus operators who said many riders are completely disregarding the mask rules and they're urging city leaders to do something about it.
Per CTA rules, bus drivers are not allowed to ask someone to put their masks on and they are not allowed to refuse service to someone who doesn't have a mask on.
That is why CTA Union President Keith Hill said it's up to Mayor Lori Lightfoot to be more vocal and bold with the public. They want her to make it clear that passengers must wear their masks on buses.
"The bus is a vessel. You're locked in a vessel. The air is recycled, so you're jeopardizing the whole bus," Hill said. "We're putting ourselves on the line, our families on the line. We're concerned about our health, too."
A mayor's office spokesperson issued a statement saying, "The health and safety of our CTA employees and customers is always our top priority. For months now, the Mayor has been clear that all residents must wear face coverings in public and while riding the CTA so that we can save the lives of our residents by containing the local spread of COVID-19 and preserving the positive progress we've made thus far. During this pandemic, CTA has not only conducted extensive outreach and communications to all residents through signs at stations, trains, buses and more but the agency has also proactively provided thousands of "Travel Healthy" kits to customers so they can stay safe. Wearing masks, social distancing and following the latest public health guidance goes beyond government mandates, it comes down to personal responsibility and accountability for every individual in this city as we work to beat COVID-19."
But according to the union, those efforts simply are not enough because many people are not following the rules. The union is asking people to sign an online petition to get the mayor to make a strong public statement about wearing masks on CTA buses and trains to keep riders and operators safe.
For more information on the petition, visit http://atu241chicago.org/member_resources/facemask-petition/.
Statement from CTA: "The State and City orders require masks in public places, including public transit, and CTA customers and employees are required to wear masks/coverings while on CTA vehicles or properties. We expect all customers to follow the orders, and are strongly focused on educating and encouraging all riders to comply with the order to wear masks in public.
"That's why we have installed signs in stations, on trains and buses, and on our digital screens-all promoting wearing masks and social distancing. We are also using audio announcements to amplify this message. Everywhere one travels on CTA, they will see and hear these important reminders. While CTA will continue to promote and encourage prudent behaviors, there is a level of personal accountability and common-sense behavior that's required on the part of customers. We are asking and encouraging our customers to follow the common-sense practices we've all learned over the past three-plus months
"Given the nature of public transit-with hundreds of bus stops and stations, and riders constantly boarding and alighting during trips-enforcement of every single person boarding a bus or train is impractical. What we can do-and what we are doing-is educating and encouraging customers to follow this guidance from health experts. CTA is also distributing masks-along with hand sanitizer and healthy-travel tips-at various locations throughout the summer. We are working to educate riders into compliance."