StoryCorps: NYC Bus Operators Witness Loss Amid Pandemic As of this week, 83 workers with New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority died from COVID-19. Two bus operators talk about the crushing loss they've witnessed in their field.
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'We've Seen A Lot Of Brothers Die.' NYC Bus Operators Witness Loss Amid Pandemic

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'We've Seen A Lot Of Brothers Die.' NYC Bus Operators Witness Loss Amid Pandemic

'We've Seen A Lot Of Brothers Die.' NYC Bus Operators Witness Loss Amid Pandemic

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And it is time now for StoryCorps on this Friday. Tyrone Hampton and Frank de Jesus are New York City bus operators. To date, they've lost at least 30 fellow bus workers to COVID-19. In all, more than 80 New York City transit workers have died in this pandemic. Tyrone and Frank had a remote conversation using StoryCorps Connect. Frank begins.

FRANK DE JESUS: My father was a bus driver, and he would take me to work with him on days that he had no babysitter. And I just remember that I would sit there right by his feet and he would give me the microphone. And he would tell me to say, Lexington and 96th Street coming up next. So you would hear me and my little baby voice - Lexington and 96th Street, up next. And I loved it. I thought it was the best job in the world as a kid. So I'm here because I love the job.

TYRONE HAMPTON: You know, we take a chance every day with snowstorms, traffic, you know, people running in front your bus.

DE JESUS: Through all the trials and tribulations, we do like doing what we do for New York City.

HAMPTON: We do. We have a driver's heart.

DE JESUS: Yeah.

HAMPTON: But now our heart is being tested. And it's one hell of a test.

DE JESUS: Every day that we step foot on that bus, we come home with the possibility of not infecting ourselves only, but our loved ones.

HAMPTON: You know, we've seen a lot of brothers die, a lot of co-workers lose their life behind this attack.

DE JESUS: What gives me the most hope right now - I have a good friend, and I see him with a roll of caution tape. And every bus that passes by, he's running in and taping off the seat right behind the bus driver, making sure nobody sits there. So the next bus, I got on with him and I helped him do it faster. And every bus that came on, we did it. You know, once you are against the wall, the only way you can go is forward.

I want you to know that you got a brother in me for life now. You know, I mean, if I didn't know it before, I know it now for sure.

HAMPTON: We're going to make it through this, man. We going to make it through.

(SOUNDBITE OF BRYAN COPELAND'S "ELEGIAC MIX")

GREENE: Tyrone Hampton speaking with his friend and fellow New York City bus driver Frank de Jesus. Tyrone, who has underlying health conditions, recently stopped driving. They recorded their conversation using StoryCorps Connect, which allows loved ones to record interviews while maintaining social distancing. That conversation will be archived at the Library of Congress. And to find out how to record your own StoryCorps interview, you can go to npr.org.

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