I need my space while commuting

Has the pandemic created new rules for the way we take public transit?

Bus drivers aren’t the only ones who deserve their own personal plexiglass. Graphic Joey Bruce

At the start of the school year, I wasn’t looking forward to the long ride from the West Island all the way to Loyola campus. I was hoping COVID-19 would scare some passengers into keeping a distance instead of rubbing against other commuters. I was wrong. 

I see people remove their masks on a daily basis as if their 30 minute commute will suffocate them. Most people are forced to wear their masks while working eight hours shifts, but God forbid they wear it for the duration of the bus ride. 

The STM’s website claims removing masks for eating or drinking is prohibited. People still remove masks to eat their entire breakfast on the metro while a lovely display of crumbs, sauce, and breakfast sandwich remnants fall all over the place. Some people do keep their masks on for the duration of their trip, but will still stand directly next to you as they have a coughing fit. 

I remember an older woman on the 105 Sherbrooke bus who seemed rather uncomfortable as a man towered above her coughing. He had a standard surgical mask on his face, but lowered under his mouth as if that counted for any protection. He kept coughing in all directions even as she kept glaring up at him. 

I always hoped to see it happen in real life, one of those viral videos where people start yelling at each other for not wearing a mask. Yet, when we see the rules being broken, we throw a couple of nasty looks, but do not actually say anything.We pretend our masks and vaccines can keep us safe from the covidiots. 

I once glared at a guy sitting directly across from me for a 40 minute bus ride while he grinned back with his mask completely off. Yet, it’s not like I said a word to him. People are worried about starting fights on the bus. You never know who you’re dealing with and you could be indefinitely stuck on the bus with someone who now hates your guts for calling them out. 

Most of the new COVID-19 safety measures implemented by the STM are to keep their own drivers safe. You cannot sit in the spots closest to the driver and everyone is encouraged to sit in the back of the bus while the maskless bus driver gets to sit behind a makeshift plexiglass fortress. 

The STM claims 99 per cent of their commuters wear mask coverings at all times, yet it’s always easier to notice the ones who don’t. 

I think the STM likes to act as if they are encouraging health and safety measures, but I haven’t once seen any employee tell someone to put their mask back on. I’ve never seen a single worker cleaning any part of a bus or metro during a busy day filled with hundreds of thousands of commuters. Everyday I try my best to be safe, but there’s an alarming amount of people who couldn’t care less about anyone else’s health.