Transit is essential': Milwaukee County buses still running during coronavirus, with riders and drivers taking precautions

5 May 2020 3:11 PM | Ann Smith (Administrator)

At 71, Marvin Garner is very worried about the coronavirus.

Before retiring, he spent 25 years as a certified nursing assistant. He knows what the damage could be, especially for someone like him who has heart trouble.

"I'm worried because of the fact that my condition makes me vulnerable," he said.

His health problems landed Garner in Aurora Sinai Medical Center for several days recently, where doctors also found fluid in his lungs. But despite his worries about the transit system, when it was time to return to his home at North 29th Street and West Highland Avenue, he waited for the bus — with a mask on.

"I do (feel safe)," he said of riding the bus. "So far, so good."

For those traveling on public transit, the potential to catch the coronavirus from other riders is real. Still, most people interviewed for this story said they've relied on the bus to get them around for years and won't stop now, despite fears of the pandemic.

But the county bus system is likely to take a sizable financial hit as a result of the pandemic, and concerns remain for both riders and drivers.

Lorena, a Milwaukee native who didn't want to give her last name, was waiting for a ride home one recent day after her work ended at Northwestern Mutual Insurance Co.

The 52-year-old said she is taking extra precautions — wearing a face mask and gloves — because she has diabetes. Still, she said she thinks the buses are fairly safe.

"I feel safe," she said. "As safe as I can be."

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