Poftak wary of taking hard policy stances at T

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER’S order requiring all passengers on the MBTA to wear face masks or face coverings took effect last week, but don’t expect strict enforcement by the state’s transit authority.

Steve Poftak, the T’s general manager, said the order exempts people who are unable to wear a face covering because they have a medical condition. He also noted that the order doesn’t require someone claiming a medical condition to provide proof of the condition.

“We won’t be refusing rides to people who are not wearing face masks,” Poftak said, quickly adding that “obviously we want the wearing of face masks to be the normative.”

Making his first appearance on the Codcast, Poftak said the T is facing a time of great uncertainty, with fare revenue currently 10 percent of its pre-COVID level and not expected to reach 60 percent until June 2021. Budgeting over the next two years won’t be easy, and polls suggest convincing riders to return to the system will be difficult. Befitting someone who has the governor, the secretary of transportation, and an oversight board looking over his shoulder, Poftak is very cautious about adopting sharp policy stances.