My Pandemic 12 months: Montreal bus driver misses bond with passengers


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STM bus driver Johanne Benson goes through all safety checks on her bus.
STM bus driver Johanne Benson goes by all security checks on her bus. “There was an actual sense of solidarity between the passengers and us,” she stated, even when they bought out the again door. Picture by Pierre Obendrauf /Montreal Gazette

Initially, it wasn’t obligatory to put on masks on public transit. That got here solely in July. However “I used to be by no means afraid to go to work,” she stated. “I’d take the métro to go house and I used to be by no means afraid.”

When summer season got here and issues started coming again to life, with bars and eating places opening, the buses began to replenish once more. “There have been quite a lot of younger individuals on the buses,” she stated.

Passengers discuss to her much less lately, and Benson thinks it’s largely as a result of they’re sporting masks.

“The contact we had with the general public earlier than the pandemic isn’t there,” Benson stated. “I believe it’ll be again the day we don’t must put on masks anymore. I don’t find out about you, however when I’ve a masks on, I really feel much less like speaking.”

MONTREAL, QUE.: NOVEMBER 20, 2020 --  STM bus driver Johanne Benson stands next to new Nova bus on Friday November 20, 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Pierre Obendrauf / MONTREAL GAZETTE) ORG XMIT: 65339 - 2418
“One factor I actually observed is that lots of the individuals on the buses have been health-care staff,” Johanne Benson says. “It made me notice that I’m right here to assist essential-service staff.” Picture by Pierre Obendrauf /Montreal Gazette

The opposite change is she sees fewer individuals speaking on the telephone on the bus. Usually, it’s only a much less social surroundings, Benson stated.