‘Everyone’s A Little More Patient With Each Other,’ Says PATH Train Engineer

Elena Clarke’s job is to make sure people get where they need to go. She’s a PATH engineer, and she’s been working all through the pandemic. 

Clarke works in the cab of the train, i.e. the driver’s seat, and because it’s her job to be on PATH trains all week, she comes prepared. “I make sure I have all the PPE that I need,” Clarke told the Downtown Alliance, “and not only for myself.” If a coworker forgets a mask or gloves or hand sanitizer, Clarke is ready to be generous because it helps everyone. “We’re trying to all do this together.” 

Clarke, who has worked for PATH for eight years, keeps in mind how important her role is to keep the city running, through the worst of the pandemic and now, in this strange limbo split into phases of reopening. “I’m proud to do what I do,” she said. “I’m proud to be an essential worker and get other essential workers where they need to go.”

Clarke’s shift goes from 3:30p to 11:30p. “I take people home from work, which I like because they seem to be in better spirits,” she said. 

Though, in the last few weeks, Clarke has noticed a change. 

Every day, I’m seeing more people, and it’s funny because it used to be that everyone rushes to sit down and kind-of like push each other out of the way to get a seat. But these days everyone’s a little more apprehensive of one another, a little more patient with each other, and I like seeing that.

Still, Clarke wants to make sure everyone remembers to wear their masks so everyone can stay safe and to remind people to bring their PPE with them when they disembark. The trains are dutifully cleaned — and they should stay that way. So take your masks and gloves with you and don’t leave them in the train car. “If people would be more conscious to pick that stuff up, that would be great,” she said.  

Like everyone else, Clarke is still processing how COVID-19 has impacted the world. “This really affected everyone in a big way. Even outside of work I see the way people have changed,” she said. “I’m in my thirties and I’ve never felt like I have had to be so protective when I leave my home.”