The Heroes Project salutes those who MKE a difference. To engage with our community virtually, we've documented the stories of downtown's frontline heroes, who ultimately inspired our next mural. Titled "The Hero in You," by Milwaukee artist Ken Brown, will transform MacArthur Square this June. For more details, visit www.milwaukeedowntown.com/art. Photography for Milwaukee Downtown by Andrew Feller.
Willie Nash has been a bus driver with Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) for 19 years. In the past, she has purchased meals and helped passengers who are in need. Today, and in recent months, work for Willie looks a little different. The bus stations are equipped with sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant for the operators to use.
The buses are no longer collecting fare*, which means that most passengers enter and exit through the back door only. The drivers themselves are practicing social distancing as much as possible and limiting the maximum number of passengers on the bus to merely 10.
MCTS has taken additional steps to keep drivers and passengers safe, by increasing cleaning, informing riders that buses are for essential trips only, adjusting service levels, suspending fare collection so that the back door can solely be used, blocking off the front of the bus, providing masks for the drivers and also recommending that passengers wear masks too.
When Willie isn’t at work, she’s staying home with her husband. This means she gets more time to do things she loves, like cooking, home improvement projects, and watching TV, giving her a positive outlook.
Willie sees this time as a reminder to not take life for granted. She knows four people who have died from COVID-19 and that has reminded her to “share more of the love that is in your heart.” She is motivated to continue driving, even during these difficult times, because she knows that so many riders depend on the bus system to get them to and from their jobs and essential places like the grocery store, pharmacy, or hospital.
Willie takes the quote, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” to heart all year round, not just during these times. She's a firm believer that everyone should treat one another well and this sentiment is always passed on to her passengers. When everyone needs a little more kindness in their lives, it is this quote, and Willie's undeniable compassion and love for her work and passengers, that transcends through the hardest of times.
*The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) announced that it will resume fare collection and front door boarding on all buses and on paratransit vehicles providing Transit Plus rides starting at 4:00 a.m. on June 1, 2020. Read the full press release here.
About the Author: Claire Neville is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Special Project Intern with Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21, advancing downtown's strategic priorities in the realm of economic development and public space management.Posted in: Arts & Culture Posted in: News