MARTA bus driver ensures passenger safety during pandemic

MARTA’s new protocols include mandatory face masks, sanitation of high touch areas and protective barriers between drivers and passengers. Photo Submitted by Kristain Baty

Georgia State junior Kristain Baty started his job as a MARTA bus operator over a year ago. He encounters different people every day. Some of those faces are familiar, while others are new. 

He drives his bus route through Atlanta’s southside, picking up passengers and dropping them off at their destination. He makes conversation with his passengers through a protective glass barrier while also wearing a face mask.  

Baty manages to juggle school and work by dedicating a certain amount of time to each of them. After a long day at work, he returns home to log in to his iCollege account and complete each of his daily assignments. 

While this is now his daily routine, Baty can look back and remember when this was all different.

Baty remembers when passengers would simply get on the bus so that he could transfer them to their next destination, but all that has changed. He says that this pandemic has enormously impacted his life as a MARTA bus driver by requiring him to act and do things differently from how he has performed before.  

“As a bus driver, it’s very important to be aware of all my surroundings and how I physically interact with people,” he said. “It is important for me to try to avoid catching this virus so that I don’t bring it home to my family.”  

Since he and other bus drivers come into contact with many people daily, MARTA has created many new safety protocols for drivers and passengers to follow. 

“To help ensure both our safety as well as theirs, all passengers and bus drivers are required to wear a mask,” he said. “If passengers do not have a mask to use, we even provide them with a mask.”

Buses have a limited number of passengers they can take, and passengers cannot sit two at a seat like before. Instead, they have to sit in seats without a “Do not sit here” sign.

MARTA also requires the disinfecting of high touch areas, MARTA barriers between drivers and passengers to limit contact, installing antimicrobial air filters and UV lights in air conditioning units to decrease the circulation of germs.  

Baty feels that if these measures continue, COVID-19 cases will drop significantly, but he doesn’t see them ending any time soon. 

“If we continue to follow protocol, then the number of cases will go down,” he said. “If we can get the number of cases to a controllable state, then it is possible to go back to our lives before the pandemic.”

Until the pandemic is under control, Baty wants to follow protocols to ensure that both he and his passengers safely return home to their families.