NEW YORK - A sign of the times: NYPD officers staffing a table inside the Union Square subway station and handing out masks.

Anyone who refuses to cover up now faces the threat of a $50 fine.

What You Need To Know

  • Commuters who refuse to wear a mask can get a $50 fine

  • The rule applies to subway, buses, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North commuter railroads

  • MTA surveys show more than 90% of riders have a mask, though some wear it improperly

The new requirement is in effect for all subway, bus and railroad riders.

Officials concede the goal is not to write summonses but to assure compliance.

"In many cases, the first action will be, 'here's a mask, put it on,' no fine, no summons," MTA Chairman Pat Foye said. "We are not interested in collecting fines or issuing summonses and police officers in the course of their job will of course use discretion."

NY1 saw some maskless riders in the station.

But Candice Murray, taking her first subway ride since the pandemic hit, said most riders had face coverings.

“It was a pleasant experience. Everyone was wearing masks, it was pretty clean," Murray said. "I definitely do feel like they should implement the fines for those who aren't wearing the mask, just to secure the safety of others and to have everyone feeling comfortable."

MTA surveys show more than 90% of subway and bus riders are wearing facial coverings, although some wear it improperly.

"Everybody had a mask on today everybody's been very respectful with masks," said a commuter at the Union Square station. "It's a shame they have to go that far, but I guess some people don't want to respect it."

MTA officials say the most important thing a rider can do to prevent the spread of coronavirus is, wear a mask. Riders say they feel comfortable taking the subway and bus because so many of their fellow commuters are covering their faces.