With transit routes reduced during pandemic, drivers help fight COVID-19 in Saskatoon by cleaning buses
Published Thursday, July 23, 2020 4:52AM CST
SASKATOON -- Afzel Mehmood has worked as a bus driver for Access Transit for five years, however back in March when the pandemic began, several routes were cancelled due to lack of demand and Mehmood was unable to do the job he loved.
“When you drive Access Transit many of your clients are all senior citizens and I consider them all friends and they become family," said Mehmood.
Mehmood says he was determined to keep working, and instead of using CERB, he accepted a position cleaning buses.
The father of four immigrated to Canada 9 years ago from Pakistan in what Mehmood says was a move to give his children a better future.
“I am doing something, I earn money and you know I feel good for my heart,” Mehmood.
Mehmood is one of 25 drivers at Access Transit to accept a position in cleaning; it is an operational change that manager Tracey Davis says was necessary to help her employees continue to earn a wage.
‘It was important to me because I was a single mom for many years, and I know what it is like to go without a paycheck and have to choose between rent and milk and I would never want an employee to make that choice,” said Davis.
For Mehmood cleaning the buses is more physical than the job he had before. However, he added that he doesn't mind, because he believes it is work that will keep people safe during the pandemic.
"We always think about how the bus has to be clean because we do not want to spread COVID-19 in Saskatoon," said Mehmood.
While Mehmood says he is not sure when he will be back driving for access transit, he is hoping his experience will inspire others to help their community.
"Canada is all about community so I want my community to come forward to do something for Saskatoon and we can help Canada," said Mehmood.