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TARTA bus drivers keeping the wheels turning despite rising COVID-19 case numbers

Since the pandemic started, 9 TARTA employees have tested positive for COVID-19. 4 of them are drivers.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Throughout the pandemic, we've heard a lot about frontline workers. Doctors and nurses are probably the ones to come to mind first, but bus drivers have also been a lifeline for many people over the past nine months.

Arbira Crawford Drayton has been driving for TARTA for more than 30 years and is ready to retire after this year.

But regardless of her upcoming retirement, she realizes how important public transportation has become over the past few months.

“I had a man today that told me, 'thank you, we appreciate it.' We are the essential workers and keep doing a good job," Drayton said.

Since the pandemic started, nine TARTA employees have tested positive for COVID-19, four of which are drivers. 

RELATED: 2 additional TARTA employees test positive for COVID-19

TARTA has taken precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 inside public transportation, such as installing plastic dividers on buses back in the summer.

Current COVID-19 regulations also require all TARTA riders to wear a mask and only allow 10 people to be on the bus at the same time, which can often lead to a lot of riders being left waiting for the next bus.

“My thing is I give them 10 fingers and a thumbs up, you do have some people who want to be defiant and say, 'I'm not going to wear the mask.' And that's where you have to get the road supervisor to come," Drayton said.

Despite many new challenges, Drayton understands many people depend on her to get to where they need to go.

“You know it's rewarding to know we can get a person that may not have transportation to where they need to go," Drayton said.

RELATED: TARTA adds protective plastic dividers to buses to minimize contact