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Muni bus driver Brendan Bartholomew in San Francisco in July.

Muni bus driver Brendan Bartholomew in San Francisco in July.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
CityLab
Transportation

Diary of a Pandemic Bus Driver

Amid unmasked riders and simmering tensions, a San Francisco bus operator recounts the personal toll of rolling through the Covid-19 crisis.

During two years of driving city buses in San Francisco during the pandemic, I went from being a jovial raconteur on wheels to a zealous enforcer of correct mask usage.

With an elderly parent under my care at home, I was diligent about wearing protective gear and uncompromising about riders who didn’t; to protect myself and my passengers from Covid-19, I made every effort to ensure everyone complied with the CDC’s rules mandating face coverings on all public transportation. For my efforts, I was rewarded with daily insults and occasional threats of violence.