Strabane bus driver shares his experience of working during the pandemic

A STRABANE bus driver who has been helping to keep the town moving as lockdown eases and recovery progresses has shared his experience of working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A familiar face to many, Gerard Porter has had to adapt to a new way of working while continuing to deliver services for those who really need them.

He features in a special nine-part film series launched by Translink documenting the real experiences of its staff who have been working hard to maintain the public transport network.

The video delves into the reality of how it felt to work through the crisis, how life has changed since lockdown and Gerard also shares his hopes and dreams for brighter days ahead.

"Working life has changed dramatically, from hundreds travelling on my bus daily down to single figures, mainly key workers, people trying to get to the hospital and other public services," he said.

"Life at home has also changed. My wife is in full-time employment with the NHS plus we have a seven-year-old in the house trying to home school.

"We are constantly juggling life in these times we're living in."

When lockdown took hold, Gerard admits that despite the obvious difficulties, it was important to maintain services for users.

"Services just have to be operated. It's our job as frontline workers also to provide a service to the community who is still out there doing their part during these times," he continued.

"I feel privileged that I can actually provide a service for other people who are doing really important jobs, working with the NHS and the hospitals and other key workers that are trying to provide a service to keep the country running."

With coronavirus restrictions now easing, Gerard is looking forward to enjoying some semblance of normality.

"I'm actuallty looking forward to getting into my parents' house. I've been looking through the back window.

"A family get-together; once I can get in that door, it will be a great feeling.

"Also, a trip to Carrickfinn beach in Co Donegal - heaven!"

Also speaking about the series, Translink deputy group chief executive, Gordon Milligan, said: "At one of the most challenging periods in our lifetime, our staff have continued to drive this country forward by ensuring we have a public transport service running when essential workers need it most.

"The videos showcase some of the many staff at Translink who have worked through what will go down in history as an unprecedented crisis and we want to thank them for their heroic efforts.

"They have adapted and innovated to keep our services running, showing great resilience and dedication and we are proud to pay tribute to all our amazing colleagues across the country.”

The videos are being shared by Translink on its social media platforms.

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