RTD’s mask requirement is over

Employees and riders are still “encouraged” to wear masks for health and safety.
2 min. read
A “masks required” sign on an RTD bus April 19, 2022, on Denver’s 17th Avenue.
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News

After being in place for nearly two years, the Regional Transportation District's requirement that passengers wear face masks in its stations and on its buses and trains is over.

The announcement comes a day after a Florida judge struck down the federal government's mask mandate.

Stephen St. Clair of Lakewood, who has been riding RTD regularly throughout the pandemic, welcomed the end of mask requirements on public transit in the Denver metro.

"I think this is the right time to start it. If there's a problem, we can always go back," he said.

St. Clair is fully vaccinated and boosted and said he's worn a mask faithfully as required even though the mask aggravated his breathing and sinus problems. Today was the first day he's commuted on the train without wearing a mask in nearly two years. "It felt like fresh air," he said.

Phat Mai, a student at the Community College of Denver, said he intends to keep wearing a mask on the train even though it's no longer required.

"It doesn't really change anything," he said. "Sometimes it feels suffocating but I'm getting used to it.

Denver International Airport dropped its mask requirement late Monday. (Here's what that was like.) Smaller public transit agencies, including those in Fort Collins and the Roaring Fork Valley, followed suit Tuesday.

RTD started requiring masks on April 24, 2020, a month after the coronavirus swept into the state and shut down life for many of the state's residents. But tens of thousands of people still rode RTD daily through the pandemic, and the mask requirement, though difficult to enforce, was one of the main ways the agency tried to keep its patrons safe.

"My team has kept in mind the well-being of employees and customers at every turn during this global health emergency," RTD CEO and General Manager Debra Johnson said in a statement.

RTD said it would continue to encourage riders to wear masks, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends. But signage on vehicles and at stations regarding the mask requirement would be coming down, according to RTD's statement.

This story has been updated to include interviews with RTD passengers.

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