Detroit Heroes: Lakeisha Williams
Highlighting the Essential Workers of Detroit
“The End of the Line…”
Those are words cherished by bus drivers everywhere. Why? Because it’s the only time they get a well-deserved break and some alone time.
But these days, alone time is a thing of the past.
“A cleaning crew comes on the bus to sanitize and wipe down surfaces that riders are actively touching.”
Lakeisha Williams has served as a Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) bus driver for seven years. One can assume she’s seen it all. But COVID-19 is unfamiliar territory, and she had her doubts about staying on the job.
“I was very nervous because I have a 4-year-old son and an 83-year-old father at home, and I am in close contact with people all day long,” said Williams.
With ridership down, drivers have had to adjust to a new schedule. That was a concern for Williams, as finding a babysitter could be difficult. Luckily, she was able to make arrangements.
A Different World
Williams found her new shift anything but typical. In fact, at the time this story was written, bus fare is waived for all riders. Passengers enter and exit through the rear door, and they’re offered face masks upon boarding.
Seating has also changed. Several seats are left vacant, providing distance between drivers and riders.
Having colleagues who have fallen victim to the virus reminds Williams how serious the illness is. In addition to being tested for COVID-19, she takes daily, practical precautions as well. “I wear my face mask and gloves, but I also wipe down my entire area, including my seat.”
There’s no denying this is a new way of life for DDOT drivers, but riders are also out of their comfort zone. Williams claims they’ve handled it like pros. “Generally, riders have been respectful and are doing what they’re supposed to.”
For now, Williams can’t greet passengers, answer their questions, and see regulars like before. Yet, she’s still happy to be behind the wheel.
“It makes me feel good that I’m able to continue to do my part in the city and help people get where they need to go,” said Williams.
Being on the frontline during this crisis was something Williams refused to walk away from. If you asked her why, she’d simply tell you... “It’s my job.”
To Lakeisha Williams and all DDOT bus drivers, we salute you… and thank you.
Detroit Department of Transportation information.