Pedro Torres worked in security for a decade and recently became a bus driver for the city. While still fairly new to the job, COVID-19 did not scare him off.
Torres, 34, of Pelham Parkway, had wanted more stability in his life, so he made the career change in October and feels it was the right decision. For the past 14 years, he has also been a part of the 48th Precinct’s auxiliary police team, but the program is on hold because of the pandemic.
The pandemic has not changed his outlook. He wears a face mask and gloves and sanitizes the wheel and fare box often. While riders are suppose to only come on if they are essential workers and wearing masks, he can’t control everything.
“It’s a little scary when you go on the bus not knowing what you’re going to touch,” he said.
Torres drives in the city and said ridership is down in Lower Manhattan but spiked in Harlem and Spanish Harlem.
While he knows he is risking his health by not quarantining, Torres is providing a valuable service.
“I’m born and raised in the Bronx,” he said. “I like helping the community. As long as I know I’m doing my part, I don’t care what other people are doing.”
Torres got tested for the coronavirus and was negative. He explained that he can usually identify essential workers if they are wearing scrubs, so if he sees someone running to the bus who is a health care professional, he will make sure to wait.
“I think about those things, she just wants to get home,” he remarked. “You do see the stress in their eyes and what they have to go though.”
He recently recalled that one gentleman told him he was not an essential worker, but badly needed to get home, so he obliged.
“There was a time I thought why are these people going on buses,” Torres said. “New York State told them to stay home.”
Buses right now are only allowing people to enter from the rear and if they reach capacity of 30 people cannot pick up more riders.
Torres said he has not been stressed or nervous about being exposed to the virus. He shared that he misses seeing his grandparents and sister.
“I know who have passed away from COVID-19,” Torres commented. “I go to work with a smile on my face. I’m just doing the job that I was hired to do. I keep that bus moving.”