U.Md. reverses course, says bus drivers can enforce mask usage

The union representing bus drivers at the University of Maryland said a driver was blamed for an incident last week that resulted in refused service and broken windows.

In a long thread posted to Twitter on Saturday, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 1072 said a driver last Wednesday refused to let two students on board because they didn’t have masks on. After a brief argument, the driver drove away, and he claimed the two threw rocks at the bus, breaking some windows.

The union went on to explain the driver was admonished and blamed for the damage caused to the bus. It then posted a memo given to drivers from the university’s Department of Transportation Services that explicitly said “drivers may NOT refuse service from passengers for not wearing a face covering (mask).”

Under emergency orders issued by Gov. Larry Hogan, anyone riding public transportation is required to wear a facial covering. The union argued the department’s policy required drivers to break the law.

But that appears to no longer be the case. The university issued a statement Monday morning to WTOP that called the incident “unfortunate” and said it fully supports the driver “who put first the health and safety of everyone on the bus.”

The statement said drivers can refuse to let people on board if they feel there are too many people on board already, or if passengers refuse to wear a mask.

“We are beginning the process to communicate to drivers the authority they have to forego a stop if they see any threat to safety, which includes situations at the bus where people are not wearing masks,” according to the statement.

The school added that any driver who doesn’t feel comfortable about a situation happening on their route can also stop the bus and call for assistance.


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