General Manager Neil McFarlane has unveiled the results of TriMet’s 2013 Operator of the Year election. At an employee ceremony Thursday afternoon, May 9, he announced that the following operators had been selected for the honor by their peers:
Bus Operator of the Year: Willie Jack
With his seniority, Willie Jack could choose just about any route he wants. And these days, he chooses Line 17. It touches so many schools, work-sites, medical facilities, restaurants, stores, parks and other destinations as it travels from SE 134th and Powell and Concordia University and back out again.
If you’re on the 17 and getting a ride that’s amazingly friendly, on-time, safe and smooth—take a look in the driver’s seat and see if you’re in the capable hands of Willie Jack.
He has been inducted into the Million Miles of Safety Club and was also TriMet’s Operator of the Year in 1985.
Here’s what we heard from one customer who starts their trip on Line 71 and transfers to Willie Jack’s Line 17, “I take this particular bus to dialysis about three times a week and I have had him as my driver for about 4-5 months now. I am in a wheelchair. Yesterday the 71 was late getting to my connecting stop, and the 71 [operator] honked the horn, and this operator [Willie, on the 17] waited for me to get off and to get to his bus. I would have missed my dialysis had he not waited. I thought that was just great and he is a wonderful driver.” The customer added that Willie Jack was especially helpful when she came back to the 17 after a few months as a LIFT rider, post-surgery.
MAX Operator of the Year: Ivan Semenyuk
Is there anyone who hasn’t gotten a ride from Ivan? He works a busy Monday-Friday shift, operating the Blue, Green and Yellow lines, crisscrossing the region from Hillsboro to Gresham, Clackamas to Expo Center. Our numbers show he provided more than 323,000 rides last year!
He is now a two-time winner of MAX Operator of the Year. He won the award for the first time in 2008 and then again this year.
Ivan has received many commendations, including, “I received a bag turned into lost and found for a customer, who did not speak English. This operator talked to them on the phone and translated for me, and helped get the bag to them, as they were elderly.”
Part-Time Operator of the Year: Terrie Sweet
Do you commute to Marquam Hill in the morning on the 61 or 64? Maybe you catch the 38 from downtown Portland out Tualatin way in the afternoons?
Then you might be riding with Terrie Sweet, whose split shift schedule makes a sustainable commute possible for hundreds of commuters each week.
Four generations of Terrie Sweet’s family filled a table in the report area for the awards ceremony. “Grandma won!” exclaimed the littlest guest.
Million Miles of Safety
The ceremony also honored eight operators for reaching a prestigious safety milestone and earning admission into TriMet’s Million Mile Club. This is no small achievement.
It’s estimated that it takes at least 29 years of safe driving to reach the million mile mark. That’s the equivalent of driving 182,000 one-way trips on Line 25-Glisan/Rockwood; 15,000 roundtrips on the MAX Blue Line; or two trips to the moon and back. Million Mile Club operators must earn 29 annual Safe Driver Awards from the National Safety Council.