“Santa Bob” steps down from his sleigh

Our very own “Santa Bob” has delighted riders for nearly 30 years as he maneuvered his sleigh—er—bus through the streets of Hillsboro, Beaverton and Portland. But before this holiday season begins, Santa Bob, aka Bob Foster, will be turning in the reins of his Line 88 bus.

“Santa Bob” retires

After 34 years of operating a TriMet bus, Bob is retiring. A few years into his job behind the wheel, Bob, who resembles the jolly old elf, began moonlighting as Santa for TriMet employees and families across the Portland metro area. TriMet riders also enjoyed their brush with Santa!

“Sometimes kids will say to their parents, ‘Look it’s Santa!’” says Bob. “That’s a tremendous responsibility, because you’re a walking billboard.”

With Bob retiring, will this be the year without a TriMet Santa?!? Kids of all ages: never fear, it’s a TriMet “Santa Exchange”!

Santa Mark takes the reins!

Santa Bob is handing the reins of his 40-foot diesel powered “sleigh” to Santa Mark. Mark Larson has been a TriMet bus operator for 25 years. For the last two to three years, some riders on the lines 54 and 56 that travel through Beaverton, Tigard and Portland, have been doing a double-take due to Mark’s resemblance to St. Nick.

“I get quite a few comments ranging from, ‘You look like Santa,’ ‘Have you ever thought about playing Santa?’ ‘Mom, he looks like Santa! I told you he was real!'” says Mark.

Santa Mark (left) is ready to take the reins from Santa Bob (right), whose last day on the job is November 20.

What does it take to be a TriMet Santa?

Being a TriMet Santa takes driving skill, great customer service, a Santa-like appearance and a degree in SantaClausology. Both men have attended the International University of Santa Claus.  Santa Mark has his Bachelor of SantaClausology; Santa Bob has his Master of SantaClausology and is working on a Doctorate.

Santa Mark knows he has some big boots to fill.

“I never wanted to replace Santa Bob—in fact, you can’t replace him!” says Mark.  “As to taking over as TriMet’s Santa? All I can say is HO, HO. HO. Who needs a ride?”

Follow Santa Bob on Facebook, and check out Santa Mark’s website.

Roberta Altstadt

Roberta Altstadt

I’m TriMet’s public information officer. I communicate with the news media on all TriMet-related topics. When I’m not busy working, I like learning new skills, gardening, and going for walks with my sweet three-legged dog, Ernie.

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