Metro riders need to cover up to hop on, following a decision by the transit agency’s board Thursday to require masks on its buses and trains.
Metropolitan Transit Authority board members approved the requirement at their monthly meeting Thursday morning, citing the need for all residents to protect themselves — and others — in public as COVID-19 cases in the Houston area increase.
“We owe an obligation to each other to treat our neighbors as we treat ourselves,” Metro Chairwoman Carrin Patman said. “In order to flatten the curve we have to take prudent steps.”
The requirement means all riders must wear face coverings, unless it is medically harmful to do so, while on buses and trains and at Metro transit stations and buildings. Workers and contractors also are required to wear masks. Anyone entering a Metro building also will need to have their temperature checked.
Metro drivers will have masks to provide to customers who do not have one, transit agency CEO Tom Lambert said.
For those who refuse to cover up, [Metro chief operations officer Andrew] Skabowski said, Metro drivers will work through a checklist, informing reticent riders that it is a requirement; if they do not wear a mask, the bus cannot proceed and a Metro supervisor will have to be called to arrange alternative transportation for them, which will take time to coordinate.
“From there, the patron typically either puts on the mask or walks away,” Skabowski said, adding that “peer pressure” on the bus can help diffuse the situation.
As drivers worked to encourage mask use over the past three days, Skabowski said only 10 refusals led to a supervisor being called. In each of those cases, the person either complied or left without seeking alternative transportation from Metro. In two cases, Metro police responded but did not take any action against the rider.
“We are not looking at civil or criminal penalties,” Lambert said.
See here for the background. How Metro has handled recalcitrant riders is exemplary and encouraging. And it really makes you wonder how much better off we’d be if this kind of social pressure to wear masks when out in public had existed at all levels of society. No point crying over spilled hydroxychloroquine, I guess.