Bus dispute erupts over masks 

En route to Woods Hole, the masked and the maskless squabble, are put on separate ferries.

While mask orders are being lifted for most public places, they'll still be required on public transportation. - George Brennan

Updated July 8

A brouhaha over mask use on a Steamship Authority shuttle bus erupted on June 21 when masked passengers boarded and found passengers inside not wearing face coverings. 

Exchanges between the two sets of passengers evidently became so heated, the driver had to pull over and admonish both sides, which still didn’t quell the dispute. The two sides argued the whole trip from the Palmer lot to the Woods Hole terminal, according to SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll. At some point the discord became physical, according to the Massachusetts Environmental Police.

At one point, someone called the Falmouth Police Department. 

In an email to The Times, Lt. Douglas DeCosta provided incident notes from the call: “A caller on SSA bus 8 reported a disturbance,” he wrote. “The caller later advised us that the bus had made it to Woods Hole. Finally, an Environmental Police Officer advised our [department] that both parties were separated and each party was being put on a different boat.”

At some point “there was some pushing and shoving,” Massachusetts Environmental Police Lt. Colonel Pat Moran said. Nobody pressed charges, he said. 

Driscoll said two people were on the bus without masks around noon when two people boarded with masks, and “they exchanged words.” The bus driver told them to “knock it off,” but they persisted, he said.

From what he has been able to learn, Driscoll said the people who boarded with masks asked the people inside the bus without masks to move farther away, and those people “took umbrage at that.”

The bus driver was forced to pull over at the Elks Lodge to try to quell the argument, Driscoll said. It didn’t work. They kept at each other all the way down to Woods Hole. 

Driscoll said he was unable to shed light on Environmental Police intervention or the separation of the two sets of people onto two different ferries.

Asked why the maskless people were able to board the bus, Driscoll said, “There was nobody else on the bus, so they were able to socially distance.”

He went on to say, “it was not a fight we were going to pick” at that point.

“It’s a tricky thing right now because of politics and the pigheadedness that goes along with the mask issue,” he added.

Buses are marked with signs that read, “Wear masks inside shuttle.”

As of April 30, the SSA required passengers to wear masks inside vessels. 

“All passengers when boarding, disembarking, and while onboard the Authority’s vessels are required to wear a cloth face coverings in interior passenger areas, including vessel freight decks,” language on the SSA site states. “Passengers who choose to remain in their vehicles when boarding shall be required to remain inside their vehicles for the duration of the voyage if they do not possess a cloth face covering to wear outside of their vehicle.”

Governor Charlie Baker’s order from the same time period extends to all mass transit, but also allows for social distancing. Shortly thereafter, and in accordance with an order from Governor Charlie Baker, the SSA extended the mask requirement beyond the ferries. 

“[T]he Steamship Authority will require the use of cloth face coverings at its landside facilities, shuttle buses, and onboard its vessels,” the ferry line site states, “as Gov. Baker’s order specifically states ‘(a)ll persons are also required to wear masks or cloth face coverings when providing or using the services of any taxi, car, livery, ride-sharing, or similar service or any means of mass public transit, or while within an enclosed or semi-enclosed transit stop or waiting area.’”

All in all, Driscoll said, “our frontline employees are doing a great job under difficult circumstances.” 

While not familiar with the incident, SSA board chairman Jim Malkin said, “It’s in everyone’s best interests to wear masks to protect themselves and others.”

He added that the issue has polarized parts of the nation — ”people are in one camp or the other. There’s no reasonable discussion anymore.”

Updated with more details.



  1. “Not a fight we wanted to pick” so, we cannot count on the SSA to keep people safe? The maskless people should have been given a choice by the driver. Put on masks in order to ride on the bus or find another way to the boat. I’m assuming the maskless folks got on the boat without masks and continued on to the island without them as well. Nice job SSA. Way to go.

  2. Masks required on busses. Period. End of story. SSA has to enforce or they are not doing their jobs. No wiggle room here. You cannot socially distance on those busses in the summer.

  3. If you’re wearing a mask you’re supposedly protected so why would masked passengers be upset about the unmasked?

    • No, you have it backwards. The point of wearing a mask is to prevent people who may be infected from spreading it to others. You can be asymptomatic and still infect people who are near you. A mask lessens that possibility.
      All that aside, the photo above clearly shows a sign stating the policy on masks.

    • Why people insist on being selfish is beyond me. For those who still don’t get it, my mask protects you from my germs, and yours protects me from yours. Ideally, we both are wearing masks. My mask alone does little to protect me from your cooties if you are without a mask and you happen to cough, sneeze, talk, sing or BREATHE anywhere near me. Put your damn mask on in public.

      • That makes absolutely no sense. You’re saying that wearing a mask offers little protection to you? Then why wear a mask. I’m fine if you sneeze on me. Considering the odds of getting the virus in this state are in the vicinity of one tenth of one percent of the population I’m not afraid of your sneeze at all. But if you are afraid by all means wear a mask, oh ya, sorry, you’re mask doesn’t protect you.

        • BS, a shot of the truth.
          Masks cut down on transmission of infectious diseases.
          Surgeons wear them to to try to keep from infecting their patients and their patients from infecting them.

          The metric is simple, more mask use equals less infectious disease transmission.


          • BS, go with this example with surgeons. Masks are also used biochem labs where it’s key not to taint a sample with unknowns. A person breathing emits particles when they exhale. In a clean biochem lab it screws up testing. In the coronavirus world at can kill the accidental target of a breath. Okay? Please?

        • BS-I can’t read past your comment to Jackie, your ignorance is part of the problem with this country. It’s beyond me how a a human being on this planet believes your ignorant garbage.

        • You don’t actually expect us to believe that you’re this ignorant on how masks work do you? You’re obviously feigning ignorance to try to make a point.

        • I like how you’re touting your education, but don’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re”

      • I hate to go down this road but I assure you my academic credentials are solid. According to statistics roughly 92% of Americans are less educated than I. I wish for once you would confront the issue with facts and not tyrannical hyperbole.

        • There is no shortage of ‘educated’ idiots.
          Trump is a fine example.
          He knows just how stupid masks are.
          Fauci is intelligent and very well educated.
          He wears a mask.
          How stupid is that!

          • Trump is not educated. He can’t name his favorite book. He is a cheater. He had a proxy take his SATs. He never would have gotten into Wharton otherwise.

        • Being as how you can’t understand something as simple as how wearing a mask works, somehow I doubt that 92% of Americans are less educated then you.

    • Bs– look at it this way– We know that masks are not 100% effective. Not even close.
      So, if I’m wearing a mask and you are drooling and spitting all over the seats and surfaces of the bus, I may at some point touch a surface that you just spit on– now, “spit” has a definition, but in this case, water droplets coming out of your mouth, possibly containing the virus are technically “spit” .
      If you are infected and billions of these viruses come out of your mouth and directly into the air, they eventually settle on all nearby surfaces, where anyone could get it on their hands.
      If you have a mask on , then number of viruses leaving your body are greatly reduced.
      How hard is that to understand, and why would you condone such rude and irresponsible behavior ?

        • Bs sometimes there are not hand washing stations readily available.
          And what about my clothes ? Should I strip down before I go into my house because some willfully ignorant over educated fool has some sort of a problem with helping people avoid this disease.
          You should have taken a few common sense classes while you were wasting your education.

    • The same reason boats have primary and secondary fuel filters.
      What the first one misses the second one gets.

    • I’m open-minded to your opinion, BS, but what exactly is it ??? Must you have hard and definitive proof that a simple gesture such as wearing mask, even if YOU do not believe the facts/science/ or even just theory before you sign on ?? Have you ever held the door open to someone behind you ? Let a driver through at an intersection ? Helped a stranger in need ? You don’t HAVE to – it’s not the law. Somethings we humans do because they’re acts of kindness or generosity.Somethings we humans do just to make others feel at ease. Sometimes we humans err on the side of caution for the greater good because giving all around us a big “F-U” would be such a horrible act or gesture. Unless your medical condition disallows, Is it so much to ask that you join us humans in the slight inconvenience of wearing a mask ?

    • BS- it’s this ignorance of yours that keeps this debate going. Read all the comments here that will tell you, your mask keeps YOUR GERMS from spreading to others.
      The maskless riders should NEVER BEEN ALLOWED TO BOARD. SSA you have to get your act together.

  4. We’re literally four months in, daily conferences with Governors and Mayors, and you legitimately think a cloth mask protects the wearer? Why do you have any opinions about anything if you can’t even grasp the basic facts of the situation?

  5. The idiots without masks on the bus were simply following the top idiot in the White House. “Hey, I’m an American. I can do what I want! No government is going to prevent me from getting others sick- it’s my God-given right!”

  6. June 21st and it is now July 7th and this is news? Just like the SGT in Edgartown which is old old news too.

  7. It’s against the law to not wear a mask on the bus! Period. Are the police refusing to enforce the laws of the Commonwealth now?
    Are face coverings or masks required on public transit?
    Yes. Residents are required to wear a mask or face covering at all times when using any means of transportation service or public mass transit. This includes in an enclosed or semi-enclosed transit stop or waiting area.
    Is there a penalty for not complying?
    The Department of Public Health and local boards of health are authorized to enforce the face covering order and, if necessary, with the assistance of State or municipal police. Violation may result in a civil fine of up to $300 per violation.

  8. So I take it the “masks must be worn on the shuttle” posting is just for decorating purposes???

  9. Why is it so hard for some people to wear a mask? Have consideration and respect for other people? I just don’t understand it. It’s not all about you.

    • There are serious medical considerations for many people who aren’t wearing a mask. You so lucky not to have to worry about it.

      • What percentage of the unmasked have serious medical considerations?
        How many times have doctors told Island patients that they should not wear masks due to their serious medical considerations?
        Has your doctor recommended that you do not wear a mask?
        Anyone in your household?

      • Unless I am overlooking something, there are two groups who cannot tolerate masks for medical reasons — those with sensory concerns and those who truly cannot breathe in them, which is not too common. Now that it’s hot and humid, I am in the second group. The obvious catch is that anyone who cannot breathe in a mask would probably not survive COVID, so they can’t take chances. Don’t think you’ll find too many folks with serious breathing conditions out and about. Not unless they need groceries or have a doctor’s visit. I don’t believe for a second these crowds can’t wear masks.

        • Actually there are 3 groups that can not tolerate masks, the 3rd group being the selfish dopes who imagine safety measures to be part of a fascist plot.

          • True, Jackie. I can’t imagine how easy someone must have it if fighting against masks seems like the constitutional crusade of a lifetime. ????

        • True. Me too on the second one. This is why I socially distance and only wear a mask when I cannot (such as going into a grocery store or pharmacy).

  10. Given the sign on the bus– why did the driver allow these people on ?
    Yeah, lame excuse they were on first.
    perhaps they should have a sign that says “if you are the first one on the bus, you are exempt and are free to contaminate others and the driver.
    The ssa should make it clear what the policy is. When the driver stopped to try to mediate, they should have said, wear a mask or get off the bus. How many brain cells does that take ?
    Follow the rule or get off the freaking bus. If they refuse to do either, call the police and have them forcibly removed. Even if it’s a “Karen” and her family.
    And what do you think happened when these rude people got to the boat? And disembarked on the island ?
    I am very happy to see tourist here. But S*** heads can stay home, thank you.

    • SSA drivers do their best to not look at people.
      They can take only so many “dumb” questions a day .

    • There is a big overlap in the demographics of tourists and S*** heads.
      By late August they are almost indistinguishable.

  11. I think that BS just likes to stir to pot, as they say. Wonder if they wear a seatbelt; put their seat in an upright position, put their table tray up and secure their seatbelt when flying; empty their pockets and remove their shoes when directed by TSA. Essential workers, like bus drivers, put their lives on the line every day for the convenience of others, and at least two have died after being infected. (See link below.) BS, get off your high horse and wear a mask for the greater good. It’s the HUMAN thing to do. https://youtu.be/NpibDL_lViE

  12. A single ounce of prevention- the mask- instead of massive infection and damage? Foolish human. Groovieness shall elude you eternally.

    • Phantom Stranger, I have no idea why you’re posting about grooviness, but I dig it. It’s a nice touch. ???????? And of course you’re right.

  13. There’s no sense lecturing anyone who behaves like a troll. BS is stirring the pot, as he always does. It’s how some people get their kicks. I doubt he believes a word of the garbage he writes. For all we know he could be hunkered down in his mother’s basement, too frightened and angry to go get his own food. It could be worse. At least he’s not mishmash quoting a bible, giving us a BS resume, worshipping Trump as chosen by his god, or bragging about clandestine work with mask-averse gun lovers. We get some real doozies on these pages, people who cry about having to wear a mask— Real tough guys who think everyone else is stupid. Maybe they’ll get to wear a ventilator and be able to compare that to why being such a sissy about wearing a mask was so stupid and selfish.

    • Jackie you seem to be a sad lonesome person. I have a medical condition which endangers me when I wear a mask. I didn’t chose it and honestly wish I didn’t have it. But you just keep on yapping your nonsense. Are you on the RNC payroll because you sure seem intent on getting President Trump re-elected!

      • BS, I have never accused someone of lying about a medical condition online before. Thought I never would. Because there’s just no way to know. But it’s impossible you’re telling the truth. Very, very few people have a real physical problem with wearing a mask. Again, those who do already have breathing issues even without a mask on, making them extremely high risk and unable to weather COVID. You told us flat out you don’t care if you get the virus because the symptoms are so mild that it wouldn’t harm you. I’d love to know what magical condition makes wearing a mask dangerous but still leaves a person healthy enough to breeze through COVID and go about life as usual. At least try to come up with something better if you’re going to play.

        • Aquinnah, you said it a lot better than I could. (I tried but my first response didn’t make it, lol.)

      • BS,
        “You can run with a lie but you can’t hide from the truth. It will catch you.”
        Consider yourself caught.

      • I generally don’t agree with you BS, but you are dead on about Jackie doing all she can to get the Donald re-elected. She’s good at it.

        • Stbg, Trump is in trouble because he’s incompetent and a liar and a corrupt fool, not because I’m right about him. As an aside, it is well known that smart women make Trump feel threatened, and he lashes out against them frequently. The same seems to be true of his 2 supporters in this thread. I’m good at making weak people’s weak, ignorant arguments and lies obvious.

          • I hope you don’t consider me one of the two Trump supporters on this thread. If you don’t realize the harm you are doing to the efforts to get rid of him, it can’t be explained to you.
            I know, that makes me racist, ignorant, weak and a liar.

  14. I have some advice if anyone else is confronted with this sort of selfish stupidity. If someone is not wearing a mask on the bus- any bus, just stand up and refuse to sit down. The bus driver cannot drive the bus if people are standing. Call the police . The law is on the side of common sense.

    • Or ask them to please put their mask on and video their response— to put on social media if they refuse. There are lots of viral videos of these kinds of idiots, too stupid, too selfish, and too angry to wear a mask.

  15. The fact unaddressed in this story is that the “anti-mask” trend is part of an INTENTIONAL campaign against science, fact, and public health by the forces sponsoring the irrational Trump presidency: that is, the Religious Right. I am getting really frustrated, as any American of logic and conscience should be, with the avoidance of discussion on this throughout the press, from local to national. It is real, and as everyone can now see it is obviously deadly. The knuckleheads who refuse to follow perfectly fair, legitimate, and non-burdensome mask requirements in shared, enclosed public as well as some “private” spaces (aka, businesses, churches) are part of a willful conspiracy against American society fueled by a movement whose religious zealotry, transmuted through a number of Southern Republican governors (Charlie Baker a bizarre GOP anomaly of reason) is now directly responsible for a significant portion of COVID-19 deaths in this country. The press and We the People need to expose this sinister agenda for what it is: a form of domestic terror induced by irresponsible officials and their enablers in local, state and federal government, whose salaries are paid by We the Taxpayers. This is ultimately the result of 6 million voters sitting out 2016 or wasting their votes on a third-party candidate. SOME of us knew who Trump was, because he showed his true colors from the start. The mask situation is not a “debate” and is not simply being “politicized,” which is conveniently appeasing…it is PART and PARCEL of tyranny’s imprint on American society. So I hope and expect more of the news media to cover this “pre-existing condition” infecting our politics and making it nearly impossible to ensure more of our fellow citizens GET WITH THE PROGRAM, not just for everyone else’s sake but that of their own families.

    • Like Trump Baker is the best there is.
      He came in after the disastrous previous administration and turned Massachusetts around in only three short years.
      The only reason that I am not a full blown Baker core supporter is his failure to endorse Trump.

    • The religious right has nothing to do with religion. It’s fake religious. It’s a mind-controlling cult that uses brainwashed, loyal followers and cowards who cannot think for themselves or stand up for what is actually the core of most all religions: moral, sound character. These people sold their souls a long time ago as they worship money and white power, superiority, and control over women, non-Christians, and non-whites.

      Every senator who has cowtowed to Trump and his “religious” cult enablers has violated their oaths of office, like Cruz (whose wife was called ugly by Trump). Trump is a traitor to our nation, as is the entire “religious right” cult, and all these named senators. Imagine if these senators had voted their conscience, Trump would be out of office today.

      “Learn their names, remember their actions, and never trust them again.”


      • I am 100 percent with you! Well said and appreciate the concurrence on the source of much of the nonsensical mindset threatening all of us!

      • Jackie. The Lincoln Project that you posted seems eeringly similar to the Jewish badge and yellow star given to segregate identify and discriminate against. As for Greta T, her rant blaming the religious right seems exactly the same as our rant about the liberal media, and Hollywood and Dem governors and violent gangs and all of those who are ruining our country and making it an anarchistic hell hole. Its always about whose ox is being gored.

        • Is this better, Andrew?

          Democrats are not anarchists. Moral Republicans who no longer support a lying, corrupt, incompetent, cowardly, and treasonous President are not “human scum,” (as the racist ‘chosen one’ you worship calls the NeverTrumpers). Real Christians, those not brainwashed cult members, don’t need to lie. It remains anti-American to impose religiosity into our Constitution, but a cult religion, based on white superiority, anti-semitism, homophobia, misogyny and personal, selfish greed is anti-American and, in fact, anti-Christian and has no business at all being forced on Americans.

          • Jackie would you like me to list you tube videos of those who voted for Obama and later rejected him for his actions. Get a grip please Jackie.

          • Andrew, I have a very good grip on how right wing, brainwashed people support a corrupt anti-American and immoral President who rewards an evil, lying convict like Stone and punishes the best of patriotic, TRUTHFUL, good Americans like Lt. Col. Vinman. Real Christians do not condone anything about Trump. All moral Americans who think know exactly what Trump and his extreme cult right wing followers are all about.

        • Nazi Germany. You wanted to go there, Andy. So, let’s go. “The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.” (FDR) king trump is not above the law and neither is he the law itself. Those who willfully aid him unlawful activity are equally culpable. “The person who persuades another to commit murder, the person who furnishes the lethal weapon for the purpose of its commission, and the person who pulls the trigger are all
          principals or accessories to the crime.” Racial Persecution, The Nuremberg Trail Transcript, United States of America v. Alstötter et al.
          (“The Justice Case”) 3 T.W.C. 1 (1948), 6 L.R.T.W.C. 1 (1948), 14 Ann. Dig. 278 (1948).

  16. I repeat. Where are the police? People are breaking the law, and in a way that could lead to the death of innocent people. Bring fireworks into the state and you face jail. Refuse to prevent the spread of a deadly virus and everyone looks the other way.

    • Zephyr there is no law being broken. They might create one but so far no law. These are inconvenient facts. Now you have an Executive Order from Baker–not a law but an order. We need some civics classes.

      • Andrew, sweetie, the declaration of an emergency is law.
        Violation of the declaration can lead to fines and imprisonment.
        It’s the law.

      • andrew– so “executive orders” signed by a governor or president are to be ignored if you don’t like them ? Just for the record, trump has signed more ex orders than any president in the time period .
        Many of them ( especially as they relate to immigration)have been struck down by the courts. You and your ilk chant about the constitution while trump tramples all over it with illegal executive orders, and you cheer him on.
        Shame on you .

        • Get a grip dondondon. All I said was that an executive order is not a law and can be challenged. Ajay thinks its a law and it isnt. If executive orders are permanent and are akin to laws there would never be a need for a legislature. The President would rule by executive order. Get it? I would follow and executive order for masks but I dont have such an order where I am for awhile. When I come back to MV I will probably wear a mask.

          • “The President would rule by executive order,” which exactly how the current president legislates. When you come to this Island, bring a mask and the $1000.00 you owe don^3.

      • “Governor Charlie Baker’s order from the same time period extends to all mass transit, but also allows for social distancing. Shortly thereafter, and in accordance with an order from Governor Charlie Baker, the SSA extended the mask requirement beyond the ferries.
        The Steamship Authority will require the use of cloth face coverings at its landside facilities, shuttle buses, and onboard its vessels,” the ferry line site states, “as Gov. Baker’s order specifically states ‘(a)ll persons are also required to wear masks or cloth face coverings when providing or using the services of any taxi, car, livery, ride-sharing, or similar service or any means of mass public transit, or while within an enclosed or semi-enclosed transit stop or waiting area.”

        It’s in the article.

      • Andrew do not be a fool.
        Under law the Governor has the power to declare an emergency that has the full power and force of the Law.
        Is that simple enough for you?

  17. I wonder if this is the same driver who wouldn’t turn off rush Limbaugh’s hate speech .
    I’m not advocating for “cancel culture”, but Rush is clearly a hate filled individual,who carefully twists statistics, and often downright lies to advance an ideology. My opinion–that ideology is driven by straight us white supremacy . People like BS and Andrew buy into this because they are the ones that hate freedom for anyone but white Christians.
    For those conspiracy minded people — this site:
    For more rational people , this site :
    not that the NY post is mainstream,or rational for that matter , I’m just trying to get the attention of the racist here.
    I know if I posted something from cnn, they wouldn’t even look at it.
    Such is the condition of willful ignorance.

    • Let’s discuss white supremacy don. Democrats wrote the Jim Crowe laws. Robert Byrd, served congress for 51 years as a leading democrat and was a former Kleagle in the KKK, eulogized by Hillary and Barrack as a great man, Dixiecrats, those members of the democratic party who seceded from the party in opposition to civil rights, Robert Kennedy who walked the halls of the White House lamenting “kikes”, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Republicans voted 80% in favor, Democrats 63%. Cities where Black Lives Don’t matter almost 100% run by Democrats. Liberals are unequivocally racist. Putting a sign in your front yard does not exonerate anyone.

      • Also, BS, if I were you, I’d ask for my money returned from places that gave you the academic credentials you like to brag about. Educated people read, and readers have seen the name of our 44th President in print often enough to know how to spell his name. Educated people also know how to use chose/choose properly. You don’t.

      • ” Robert Kennedy who walked the halls of the White House lamenting ‘kikes’…” ~BS

        Cite your sources. Otherwise it sounds like BS trying to use a deplorable slur to gaslight and troll. Also, people who have earned academic credentials of any value know how to spell the name of the 44th President… and know how to use chose/choose.

    • Rush loves America and all Patriotic Americans.
      It is the only news program that Patriotic Americans should listen to.

  18. The Knuckleheads who refuse “fine” the people who disobey the Governor`s orders dealing with masks need a wake up call big time.

Comments are closed.