Despite some push back, SF Muni reports 90% of riders wear face masks

Lyanne Melendez Image
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
SF Muni reports high mask compliance rate on buses
While face mask compliance is high while riding San Francisco Muni, there are reports of operators being accosted and even assaulted for demanding that people wear a mask.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The so-called battle between those who mask-up and those who don't have also been an issue when riding Muni buses in San Francisco. While mask compliance is high, there are reports of Muni operators being accosted and even assaulted for demanding that people wear a mask.

When getting on a bus in San Francisco the rules are in plain sight.

No mask, no entry.

Since April 22, when the mask ordinance went into effect, The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has kept a record of the number of people who wear a mask while onboard. On average, 90% of passengers comply. MTA looks at their surveillance video on a weekly basis.

"We are able to take an aggregated look at the service on the street from week to week to see how well the mask compliance is going, explained Kristen Holland, of the SFMTA.

MASK MANDATE: These CA cities will give you a ticket for not wearing a face covering

The SFMTA also reported having trouble with a few passengers when told to mask-up.

According to their data, from April 22 through Aug. 31, there have been 63 verbal altercations specifically dealing with masks.

And nine operators have been assaulted. One driver was struck several times with a wooden bat in July.

"And there was a miniature bat that was involved as well and it was due to facial compliance or lack thereof. It's a scary situation indeed," said Roger Marenco of the Transit Workers Union Local 250-A.

He believes many more drivers are not reporting passengers who don't comply to avoid any interruption to their bus route.

"We would definitely like to see more assistance out there, more boots on the ground in terms of people working, assisting us with more compliance, added Marenco.

RELATED: Pres. Trump says Bay Area will receive over $700M to support SFO, Muni and BART during pandemic

The SFMTA says a few things are helping.

It's mandatory for bus drivers to use the protective plexiglass barrier as seen in this video from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

"We've also deploying ambassadors, increased that group of people throughout the city. We're using some crossing guards, our transit fare inspectors as they come back from doing other disaster-service work are deployed city-wide," said Holland.

All of those ambassadors and transit fare inspectors have received de-escalation training. Muni operators will start that training in the fall.

Take a look at all of ABC7's Building a Better Bay Area stories and videos.