Man without mask forced off SEPTA bus amid confusion over whether riders are required to wear them

By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)  A viral video Friday captured Philadelphia police forcing a man who wasn't wearing a mask off of a SEPTA bus. And after some confusion, SEPTA now says riders are "strongly urged" to wear masks. 

A video posted to social media shows several Philadelphia police officers forcing a man off a Route 23 bus in Center City, with one cop pulling the passenger by the leg while the man profanely protested. 

The man was not arrested or charged. 

City Managing Director Brian Abernathy said police responded because the man refused the bus driver's request to leave the bus because he wasn't wearing a mask.

"When a bus driver says he's kicked somebody off for whatever reason, our officers are going to support SEPTA in that effort, especially given some of the challenges SEPTA has faced during this crisis,” Abernathy said. 

The incident happened days after SEPTA reported three of its workers had died from COVID-19. 

Mayor Jim Kenney had the bus driver's back. 

"We're in strange times and people are reacting in strange ways. But I don't blame the bus driver,” Kenney said. 

SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said the transit agency Friday tried to require riders to wear masks, but that led to confusion. So now, SEPTA is back to strongly urging masks. 

And Busch says riders will not be told to leave buses or exit stations if they're not wearing one.