Maskless riders on Red Buses flourish again after a few days of show by RIOC’s Public Safety Department. In the last ten days, Roosevelt Island’s coronavirus positivity jumped from 0% to 1.73%. It’s rising, but the state’s efforts aren’t up to the challenge.
By David Stone
It’s not just maskless riders on Red Buses that signal the state’s failures at promoting coronavirus protection. Last year, when infections first swelled through Roosevelt Island, RIOC was front and center in setting a healthy example.
Weekly bulletins from RIOC were filled with how-tos about coronavirus safety. But that was then, when we had Terrence McCauley, a professional public relations specialist, and a president/CEO with her head on her shoulders.
And this is now…
Maskless riders welcome on Red Buses
In witnessing the hazardous state of things on Red Buses, not a lot of time is needed. These photos were taken on two bus rides, totaling no more than twenty minutes.
Most passengers, the majority by far, mask up on boarding or are already masked. But violators are consistent.
And while they try, drivers should not be enforcers. It doesn’t come with the job, and they have plenty else to look out for. Like cramped streets and crosswalks.
PSD could help, as one driver told me, but they don’t, nor reliably anyway.
Soccer players on a free ride…
When the driver paused on schedule at the Octagon, I asked him about it.
“They sneak in through the back door,” he said.
If they refused to mask up, what choices had he?
“I could call PSD,” he said, but stopping a bus full of people heading home on Friday made little sense.
Noting that sometimes officers board for spot checks, it’s not consistent and only at a single location where they never leave eyesight of their comfortable headquarters.
He could use some more help, the driver told me.
A driver wades in with maskless riders, but then retreats…
When a young couple entered the front of the next bus, the driver acted swiftly, telling them face masks were required, handing out a pair from his supply. They cheerfully agreed, and we rode on without maskless riders.
How must the young man and woman have felt, after complying with the driver’s request, then watching an older man go uninterrupted?
This violation was worse because this maskless rider barked into his phone all the way, a perfect spreader standing right over the driver and only feet from other passengers.
But then, a final touch of graceless disregard for everyone else….
Just as the first driver reported, passengers sneak in through the back door, these two carrying drinks, also not allowed, supposedly, on Red Buses.
Conclusion: Maskless Riders on Red Buses
If not to protect us from risks forced on us by people who refuse wearing masks on public transit, why are we paying PSD $4 million every year? For a bloated staff of 50, mostly invisible and/or motionless.
And where’s management? Hiding in Blackwell House, for one, but the problem goes deeper.
When, in the wake of an organized effort forcing Susan Rosenthal out, her replacement, Shelton J. Haynes, blew up RIOC’s communications efforts, he promoted insiders for staffing an alleged Communications Team.
Trouble was, none of them had any experience in the field, and the failings show up daily.
While coronavirus infections rise, aged and inaccurate signs, small and tucked out of sight, are the only lingering indication on Red Buses that RIOC once cared about doing its job.
A RIOC Advisories system repeatedly blasts cookie cutter, redundant announcements about minor events but coronavirus guidance never spills out. Not these days.
Maskless riders on Red Buses put at risk everyone else, but we see every day that RIOC is not up to the challenge.
How long must the most heavily taxed community in America continue paying for these failures?
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