Q & A with a Train Operator

Andre Morgan, Hostos ’11, Train Operator with NYC Metro Transit Authority

This interview was conducted on 5/23/2020 by Rocio Rayo, Academic Program Coordinator, and has been edited for length and clarity.


Q: What is your role, and how have you been involved with the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: During the COVID-19 pandemic, I've been working as a frontline worker with MTA, as a train operator. I drive the trains, therefore I'm taking people from point to point in New York City making sure that the city is running. Essential workers are the main reason why the MTA remains open during the entire pandemic. And I'm one of the train operators, who was transporting the nurses, the doctors, the, all the first responders—all the frontline workers, in addition to my coworkers, who are also frontline workers.

A lot of things have changed. I'm one of the persons who contracted the COVID-19, but I'm one of the people who survived. Within our agency, we lost over 100 people, as it has been reported on the news, so now we've taken measures to protect our employees better. The agency has provided us with personal protective equipment. We are on different schedules than normal just to meet the present demand. Thankfully, our governor has put something in place to keep the trains very clean, and that has been helpful to us.

Q: How has your job or role during the crisis impacted you, personally, professionally, emotionally, physically, and all the ways that we can be impacted?

A: Well, as I mentioned earlier, I'm one of the people who contracted the COVID-19, and thankfully I'm one who survived. That knowledge that I gained from my experience, I was able to share it with others who contracted the virus, and quite a few of them survived, also.

But, unfortunately, quite a few of our staff members, our peers, our colleagues, passed on, as a result of the COVID-19. And, that has affected the morale somewhat, because it's never easy to lose people.

Q: What advice do you have for others who are entering your field during this time of crisis?

A: Your safety is paramount. It's important that you go home to your family, and it's important that you go home to your family being whole, not taking home this COVID-19 with you, because you don't want to make them sick. You don't want to make them worried. We were losing an average 800 people per day in New York City, but if we take the measures that the people in charge have suggested, we can really reduce the number of fatalities and the number of illnesses. 

Transportation is a great field to work in. The MTA's a great agency to work for, but while the risk is there, if we take the measures that are needed it will make your life much better, in this career. It's a great field.

Q: What is your message to Hostos graduates who are graduating during these really difficult times?

A: Congratulations, you've done it. College is by no means an easy task, but you stuck to it, you did it. I'm the first person from Hostos Community College to have been accepted into the New York Needs You Fellowship, and it makes me proud, to know that Hostos is still producing some of the brightest, most intelligent, and well-driven people that our society is desperately in need of, right now.

The world is yours, go for it. Take it by force, go for it.

This Q&A has been edited for style and length.

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