No more ski masks on SEPTA transit — agency announces it’s ramping up enforcement

Riders wearing ski masks should expect to be confronted by SEPTA police and asked to remove them or get off the ride.

A transit security officer works on the platform of the Girard stop

File photo: A transit security officer works on the platform of the Girard stop of the Market-Frankford El train on July 15, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

SEPTA is ramping up enforcement of its ski mask ban, following a recent string of violent incidents on public transit.

Riders will be escorted off the system if they don’t remove them, said SEPTA spokesperson John Golden.

“For the safety of our customers and employees, and to help in identifying suspects who commit crimes on SEPTA, ski masks and similar types of coverings are prohibited on SEPTA property,” Golden said.

The agency made the announcement after the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Randy Mills on a bus in Germantown on Thursday. Two men were also shot on the Route 33 bus on May 17, near 21st and Diamond streets.

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“These full head coverings are a major issue because we’re seeing it routinely being worn in 80-degree weather or above, and there is no legitimate reason, pandemic withstanding, no legitimate reason to wear a full head covering in public,” SEPTA Transit Police Chief Charles Lawson said in a press conference on Thursday,

Golden said that people wearing COVID-19 safety masks, religious coverings, or medical masks will not be impacted.

District Attorney Larry Krasner reported on May 1 that Philadelphia’s homicide rate was down 15% compared to last year. But he described the amount of violence on public transit as “unacceptable,” and said security cameras will help catch perpetrators.

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