'We move New York.' - A day in the life of as a bus driver during COVID-19 crisis
It’s a front line job-- that many other essential workers depend on. With subway services shutting down every night, the city’s buses are still running to get essential employees where they need to go.
“This job is you have to keep moving, we can't stop, we move New York,” says NYC transit bus operator Heidy Calderon.
Calderon gets behind the wheel of Bx9 at 4 a.m. So, the first hour of her shift is dedicated to picking up and dropping off essential workers, especially those at the health care facilities on her route from West Farms to Riverdale in the Bronx.
“Four nursing homes, plus the VA hospital,” said Calderon. She says it’s part of her new normal on the job, a total of nine trips a day with a plastic partition between her and passengers--and rear-door boarding.
She says her uniform now consists of a mask and gloves. Calderon says she also keeps plenty of sanitizer close by, because by 5 a.m. the amount of passengers start to pick up.
“Sometimes my bus is so crowded that I have to let them know to wait for the next bus because you know it's a danger. It's scary, but some people don't understand, like myself, I have to protect myself. I have to protect my family. I'm a single mom,” said Calderon.
The mother of three even sent her asthmatic son to North Carolina to keep him safe.
“The more possible that you can stay home, I mean, I appreciate that,” said Calderon.