Since my last fit-throwing over passengers not wearing face coverings on buses, I’ve seen noticeable improvement in passengers having masks. Now, we need to figure out how to get them to put the masks on, over their mouth and nose, before they board the bus, and how to get them to keep the masks on.
Bus operators have some power over the ship they captain. One is the power of the voice, as in, to play PSAs, which is mostly done inside the bus, but can also be done over the exterior loudspeaker.
Another power is the power of the door. Operators control them, at least since Metro abandoned the experiment of allowing riders to open rear doors by pushing on them, while the bus is stopped.
A third power is the power of the gas pedal and the brake. Operators decide whether to stop when someone is waiting to board.
Used in combination, these tools could save many riders’ (and maybe a few operators’) lives.
Usually, masklessness starts before boarding. Passing up a rider who looks “non-destinational”, just because they don’t have a mask or don’t have it on, would be the extreme (but still possibly life-saving) approach.
An alternative approach is to stop, but keep the doors closed, and then play an external message, such as, “Wearing a face covering over your mouth and nose is required before you board the bus.” Wait a few seconds for them to comply. Move on if they don’t. Given the high rate of mask possession I have observed, most will put their masks on at that point.
But what if other passengers are also waiting there, and the rest have their masks on? Same plan. Keep the doors closed and play the message. Once the chin-wearer pulls their mask up, then open the door. Everyone else waiting there will be glad the driver took the time to goad their non-compliant compatriot into putting the mask on.
But what if other riders are trying to alight? Same plan. Wait, and let the passengers inside know why the operator can’t open the door yet. Those trying to alight will be glad when they don’t have to pass by a mouth-breather spewing potentially toxic water droplets at them. It might it even make some feel safer about riding Metro again.
This should clear up 90%+ of the cases of unmasked riders.
Then there are those passengers who take their masks off once seated. And of course, they will be sitting behind someone else, and breathing on their neck. Slight alteration to the plan. Play the interior message about masks being required while riding Metro. Then sit there. Inform the passengers over the loudspeaker that the bus is not going anywhere until everyone has their mask on.
If the troublemaker walks toward the front, start driving (slowly enough that he will sit down), and call security. That passenger may not be physically violent, but he is risking the lives of his fellow passengers nonetheless. Once security arrives, they can start by offering a mask if he doesn’t have one, and take down his identification so as to track future transgressions. If he refuses and does not have a doctor’s note as to why he can’t wear a mask safely, then tell him he has to leave the bus.
But don’t physically remove him from the bus, at least yet. Have a replacement bus already there, and everyone else can move to that bus. Then take the original bus back to base for biohazard/deep cleaning.
The externality of stopping other respiratory viruses
Most common respiratory viruses spread the same way the novel coronavirus does: through water droplets exhaled by an infected person. Studies have shown that the proper wearing of masks (mostly by infected people) and washing hands has helped reduce their spread. If someone spews a talking point at you about the flu being just as deadly, that’s all the more reason for them to WEAR THEIR DAMN MASK.