Today, L.A. Metro announced that all passengers on buses and trains will have to wear facial coverings starting on Monday, May 11. This follows similar requirements put in place for the Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica and DASH, Cityline, and Commuter Express buses earlier this week.
In a post on Metro’s The Source, Metro said it had previously encouraged riders to wear masks, but had not required it because enforcement is complicated. Metro didn’t want to “put our bus operators in harm’s ways” or put “law enforcement officers in an untenable position where confrontations with riders escalate—as we’ve seen happen in other cities.”
These incidents have indeed occurred in the U.S. In Florida, a woman spit on a bus driver who asked her to wear a mask. In Michigan, a security guard was shot and killed after asking a customer to wear a mask.
Noting that enforcement is a work-in-progress, Metro said it will be looking at best practices for enforcement going forward and how it can help riders who need masks get them.
On Monday, Supervisor Janice Hahn sent a letter to Metro CEO Phil Washington asking Metro to require its passengers to wear facial coverings. Hahn’s letter followed a report from the Los Angeles Times, in which several drivers said they felt unsafe at work. One driver told reporter Laura J. Nelson about a man he saw cough several times into his hands. The man then rubbed his hands on the seat.
Metro seemed to reference that article in its post:
“We want our bus operators to know that we are listening to them. And while we have been engaging employees constantly, we’re a big agency with nearly 11,000 employees and we’re acutely aware that some employees have been on social media and telling the news media that this is a change they want.”
Metro’s ridership has gone down since the onset of the pandemic, resulting in service changes. To see those the most current schedule, check here.