DTA bus driver keeps city on the move during pandemic
The man from Superior is one of many Northland cashiers, medical staff, food producers and others who have adapted and introduced themselves as we all clung to the ever-changing news of the coronavirus.
He has realized that work is “a lifeline” for people who have to travel to the grocery store for food or the drugstore for medicine, Farrell said.
Last spring, “No one had any information for us other than that we shouldn’t go out and stay away from people. As a driver, both things are impossible, ”he recalls.
He reflected on changes that have helped him feel safer on Duluth buses – putting on face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and contactless payment for passengers.
A passenger boards Josh Farrell’s bus at the Duluth Transportation Center on Sunday, July 18, 2021. Farrell said he realized the job was “a lifeline” for people who have to travel to the grocery store for to eat or at the pharmacy for treatment. (Steve Kuchera / [email protected])
DTA also started to half-fill the buses, and they hired professional cleaners and added plexiglass barriers to help eliminate contact.
They were as completely covered as they could get, Farrell said.
“At one point you feel more comfortable, and I guess that also makes you feel better than at least trying to do something to help remove the contact,” he added. .
He also recalled the nervous gratitude for being able to continue working.
He and his wife have four children in primary school; his wife was attending university full time and doing a full time internship. At one point, everyone, including his wife, was attending online school at home.
“Our schedules were already tight. … We would congratulate each other and go to work and do my shift, and she was the one watching the kids and vice versa.
Fortunately, Farrell was able to arrange for an aunt to stay with the family to help with the children.
“It was the hardest part,” he said.
The DTA still requires drivers and passengers to wear masks on board its buses, and provides masks for those who do not. (Steve Kuchera / [email protected])
Asked about face masks on the bus, Farrell said, “Not everyone feels the same as other people about what is going on. We ask everyone to wear one; we say it is necessary that you have one, that’s why we provide them.
“There’s always a person who (thinks) ‘This is a scam, this is not real.’ To avoid this conflict, we just say “Okay, ma’am”. ‘OK sir. Try to be attentive and wear a mask next time.
It is the same procedure for people short of bus tickets.
We are not responsible for the application of tariffs. We are tariff advisers, Farrell said.
Instead of arguing or embarrassing someone, they usually say “try to have this next time”.
Farrell took the time to answer questions about driving Duluth’s winters, his self-care over the past year and more, and ways we can support frontline workers.
MORE ESSENTIAL WORKER STORIES:
DTA bus driver Josh Farrell on Sunday July 18, 2021 (Steve Kuchera / [email protected])
A: Taking your time doesn’t seem like a trick, but it’s the best way to deal with buses in our weather – that and good snow tires for the winter.
A: On the way back, I washed my hands and applied hand sanitizer. When I got home, I would take my uniform off at the door, take a shower, and put on different clothes.
I was fortunate to never have to quarantine myself away from my family.
DTA driver Josh Farrell is driving his route between downtown Duluth and Proctor on Sunday July 18, 2021. available. I also think our community and society as a whole greatly value frontline workers, ”he said via email. (Steve Kuchera / [email protected])
A: One of them realized how many people would have encountered obstacles in meeting their needs if essential workers had not been available. I also think our community and society as a whole greatly value frontline workers.
I have had the opportunity to build relationships with people in the community who often use public transport.
Sometimes people are faced with difficult situations, and just being able to lend an ear to them and possibly give them advice makes all the difference.
The best is when I see them again. I am able to hear the positive stages in their life. I can share my real excitement with them and see that these small, brief interactions go a long way.
A: Means being selfless.
A flyer regarding COVID-19 hangs from a window of Josh Farrell’s bus on Sunday, July 18, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / [email protected])
A: My main personal care before closing was to work out in the gym. My routine completely changed during the shutdown as we couldn’t get to the gym but I was able to adjust and start a new workout routine at home.
A: Take care of yourself and continue to follow safety precautions. We need to feel like the best versions of ourselves to avoid burnout. We need to take care of ourselves and our families first, so we are in great shape to continue to do our best in our professional roles.
Q: How can we support our frontline heroes?
A: Many businesses need community members to continue to be safe and healthy and reduce the risk of transmitting COVID. Many places are also understaffed. I think we can help support frontline workers by applying for positions, even if it’s part-time or on-call.
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Essential Workers Series
Do you know of an essential worker with a story to share? Email Melinda Lavine at [email protected] or call 218-723-5346.