As I was boarding a bus a few days ago, I saw a young gentleman sitting close to the middle of the bus, maskless. I pulled a mask out of the dispenser at the front of the bus, walked back to the gentleman, and handed the mask to him. He thanked me and put it on.
Then, I caught the 1 Line. I sat in the fourth car, per usual, to be in the least-populated part of the train. A maskless gentleman claimed a standing position a few feet away from me. I got up and headed toward the raised seating section at the end of the car, where there is a 50/50 chance of being a mask dispenser. Unfortunately, this car’s dispenser was on the far side of the traincar, and the maskless guy was standing between me and the dispenser. So, I settled for keeping my distance from the guy.
Having more mask dispensers so there is one near each door pair would have come in handy in this encounter. The more crowded the train gets, the more these dispensers will be needed, including being restocked throughout the day. It’s a tiny investment for one-time installation of these clear plastic dispensers, and a rounding error within a rounding error of Sound Transit’s maintenance budget. If it saves one rider’s life, the investment will have paid for itself.
The air on the 1 Line may be among the safest indoor air to breathe (so long as no oblivious or malicious unmasked or partially unmasked passenger is breathing directly at your face), with the air being replaced every 5 minutes and filters designed to collect the viral particles.
But there remain plenty of people riding the 1 Line maskless, or with their masks down, though they are a distinct minority of the ridership. That said, it is not the percentage of ridership following safety rules that matters. It is the number of maskless riders you have to deal with on your trip that matters. Indeed, one infected maskless rider can render more harm on a packed train than on one that is mostly empty. Still, they are most likely to infect just the other maskless riders, and the unvaccinated ones in particular.
Tolerance for maskless riding makes the train less accessible for the 2% of the population who are immunocompromised, including some who can’t take any of the vaccines, making it a potential ADA issue.
I’ve found that roughly half of maskless riders are open to reason, but that only matters if there is a mask dispenser within reach.
If you have an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination, you get to ride transit free to the appointment, on nearly all public transit buses in the region, as well as the 1 Line. But you still have to wear a mask, like everyone else, over both your nose and mouth.