After issues regarding the wearing of masks in other public establishments have risen, will the same issues crop up in public transit?
Preventative measures have been taken by the STM in order to protect the drivers and citizens during these trying times all over the city. This has all been going on for quite some time obviously—since March in fact—but as of Monday, July 27th the so-called ‘gracing period’ is up and the STM and if necessary, we presume the SPVM, will be cracking down on anyone not complying.
The specific date for the mandatory face-covering law was July 13th. After said ‘gracing period,’ if passengers do not comply, they can be blocked entry on busses or metro lines.
How are things in Park Extension?
After observing many of the bus stops in the city, as well as riding many of the busses that pass through the borough—specifically the 179, the 92, 16 and of course the 100 bus lines, we’d have to say that things are actually going quite well in the borough thus far. This is of course difficult to monitor if you’re not the STM or even the aforementioned authorities of course, but most, if not all civilians were complying by the rules throughout Park Ex on the days in which we were observing.
How the rest of the city seems to be doing
We spoke to an STM bus driver that wishes to remain nameless from elsewhere in the city. He or she drives the 49 bus out East and at multiple hours of the day, his or her schedule changing from day to day. They stated that so far, everything was going well and they didn’t encounter any difficult situations. We hope this remains to be the case moving forward, but after what happened at a local Tim Horton’s since the 18th of July, we’ll definitely be keeping our ears to the ground.
There is no doubt that there is a sub-portion of the community that regards the wearing of masks and face-coverings as rubbish, so if anything we’d expect an uprising from that portion of the community if nothing else.
The metro lines
To walk into Acadie Metro station is to walk into the depths of some horror movie set where the world has been overtaken by fictional zombies or vampires. Saying that it was deserted shortly after rush hour on a Monday would be putting it way too mildly, but there it is just the same.
The STM worker behind the ticket booth sat reading from what looked like a newspaper and when I descended into the lonely depths of the subway station and lurked by his window, he didn’t even look up, he was probably so used to the tranquility and seclusion he felt. You could hear a pin drop for how quiet it was. He wasn’t wearing a mask, but he was behind the Plexiglas those booths are known for, even before Covid-19.
Of course, this can’t be said for all Metro stations in the city, as many of them are quite jammed, especially in the morning and afternoon rush hours, but as it applies to our borough, things were pretty deserted at that hour; many seemingly avoiding the depths of the earth as a mode of travel right about now. But of course, this can change at the drop of a hat.
It must be noted that each and every single other passenger we saw down there (all both of them during a 15 minute period) were wearing masks.
How transit workers are keeping safe
And very much like the STM worker in the booth, there are those drivers that aren’t wearing masks, and yes, even on the 27th of July, the end of the aforementioned ‘gracing period,’ but other measures are being taken and have been taken since the start of this whole mess … specifically the blocking of passengers getting on the bus from the door at the front. The drivers are sectioned off by tape and some are even encased within a Plexiglas enclosure of their own. It must be noted that many drivers are wearing masks, and all sorts of masks, but we have seen others without, and the only question we pose is: is the tape enough? For those drivers separated by travelers only by the yellow tape and no Plexiglas and no mask … is that distance enough? If someone sneezes in that enclosed space, isn’t the driver at risk or vice-versa?
Of course this is very reminiscent of the many questions we’ve all had since the start of this whole thing … questions that we have seldom gotten answers to during this whole ordeal.
And we can’t answer it either. Because we won’t lie to you.
What we can tell you is that the health authority of Montréal and the labor safety board of this province has decided that they (transit workers) are exempt from wearing masks because of the aforementioned measures taken, such as the Plexiglas, tape, etc..
We can assume that the STM knows what they are doing and we have to trust them the way we’ve trusted our local McDonald’s and Tim Horton’s restaurants for our burgers and coffee; the way we’ve trusted our leaders, and all for the good of us all, as those in power should know better, and it is in times like these that we hope that they do.