Going the Extra Mile

Ask Jabriel Pumarejo what he does, and he’ll tell you. 

“I take a powerful, heavy, 40-foot vehicle and I move it around urban environments, engaging the public and safely transporting them to their destinations.”

As an STA driver, Pumarejo has an inside view of why STA is dedicated to keeping public transit running in the Spokane region during the coronavirus emergency.

“I think in order for a city to be able to function well, a convenient and efficient transportation system is crucial,” he said. “Where we live in the Inland Northwest, where it’s not so crowded that we’d need a subway system, our bus system works really well. People who need to get to their essential locations can get there — and there are a lot of essential destinations besides just medical appointments and grocery stores. We provide a service for those who truly need it.”

When the coronavirus pandemic began, STA put in place emergency measures to protect customers and employees. This included enhanced sanitization procedures for STA vehicles and facilities, and making supplies available to staff members to protect themselves and the public.

Pumarejo doesn’t just rely on the small army of STA service cleaners who clean all buses each night and throughout the day — he literally takes matters into his own hands, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces inside his bus at the start of every shift.

“Why do I do that? Truthfully, it’s because my parents told me to!” he said with a laugh, before turning serious. “There are a lot of unknowns about the coronavirus, so any level of protection has the possibility to go a long way towards keeping people healthy. I take this job very seriously and I want to help ensure the buses I drive are safe and clean. It’s truly a team effort at STA.”

The work behind keeping buses on the road during a national emergency doesn’t go unnoticed.

“Last week I had a couple people complaining about how they didn’t want to work because of COVID-19,” Pumarejo said. “They were sitting behind me and I could hear what they were saying. Later, a woman who was sitting near them was getting off the bus, and she said to me, ‘I’m really thankful the buses are running because I take care of certain people, and I’m able to take care of them because of this.’ It was just something she said to me as she was exiting the bus, but it was really nice.”

Pumarejo smiles at the memory, but he’s surprisingly unmoved by the kind words and recognition of what he does.

“Despite the coronavirus emergency, there’s nothing really different than what I usually do,” he said. “When I get behind the wheel I have a responsibility. It’s not me that I’m taking care of when I go to work — I’m taking care of people who need to get to their destinations.”

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