Some days, there's just not enough Purell in the world
I lived in Queen Anne, and later in West Seattle, so these weren't very long commutes by any means. But the long-range commuter buses, although you would think they would be more germy, tended to be filled with… well, commuters. From the suburbs. Where I guess it's more likely that people will be willing to stifle a sneeze or use a Kleenex.
By contrast, the city bus routes often felt like running the gamut through a plague ship. All winter long you can't ride a bus without hearing at least one really alarming cough. Not the polite, dry little cough: we're talking the deep, wet, soul-racking coughs.
You can always tell by the quality of the sound that it hasn't been covered up or stifled. No, those lung-deep coughs are bringing up droplets of aerosolized plague and spraying them out in an invisible cloud. And since Seattle city buses have no internal HVAC system, they just loiter there, hanging in the air until someone else breathes them in.
If you are on a crowded bus with people standing, all the worse. I can guarantee that you won't go fifteen minutes on the bus in winter without seeing a standing rider sneeze into their hand or wipe their nose with their hand, then put it back on the pole. I always want to smack people when I see them do this! Or at least spray them with Lysol.
Another bad habit is the riders who grab the handle bar on each seat as they pass. I get it: you don't want to fall. But all you're really doing is shuffling the germs. The germs that might formerly have been confined to just one handle are now on every single handle. Nice work!
I should add, lest you think I'm picking on the homeless, that I have seen plenty of this behavior from suit-wearing business people (both male and female). I can only imagine how gross their offices must be!
None of this would be such a big problem if the buses were ever cleaned. Would it be so hard for someone to clean all the hand holds with a Clorox wipe at the end of each shift? Or spray them down with Lysol?