Robert Boos thought his TriMet career was over before it began.
“I was 21 years old, thinking about going into the Coast Guard and kind of scared to death of driving a bus,” Boos recalls. “I applied at TriMet and got called into an interview. I thought I blew the interview.”
He didn’t. Thirty-one years later, Boos is our latest inductee into the Million Mile Club, which honors operators who have exemplary safety and customer service marks.
How far is a million miles? It’s like driving around Earth 40 times. Or making 172 trips from Boos’ home in Milwaukie to New York City… and back.
“Who thinks they’re going to be in the Million Mile club?” Boos says. “It’s almost impossible to do. It’s not something you think about. I guess it’s luck, that’s all I can say.”
However, it’s more than luck that the National Safety Council has given him a Safe Driver Award every year, earned by driving without a preventable accident—a feat that takes diligence and an unrelenting focus on safety.
Times certainly have changed since Boos began driving a bus in 1984. Back then, many of them didn’t have power steering. They also had less-advanced communications systems and high floors.
“I really like the low floor with no steps—it’s like driving a go-kart,” Boos says.
All in the family
Outside of work, Boos enjoys taking his 3-year-old grandson to the park, going out to sushi with his wife or hiking on the Oregon Coast at Cape Lookout or Drift Creek Falls.
His father, Keith, ran 12 convenience stores in the area called Keith’s Markets. Keith eventually left to work at TriMet, first as a bus driver for nine years and then a trainer for 18 years. Six months after Keith retired from TriMet in 2002, he suffered a massive heart attack while on a golf course. The next day, he had open-heart surgery and survived. Today, he’s in good health.
Don’t hit snooze
The secret to his success?
“All you have to do is be diligent,” says Boos, who drives Line 23 in the Parkrose neighborhood. “If you’re not going to get up in the morning or be on time, you’re not going to make it as a bus driver.”
There’s something about working at TriMet that’s helped him get up every morning for the past 30 years.
“It feels like I’m my own boss. I like the routine,” he says. “I sign in, get on the bus, go get my coffee. When I’m done, I park the bus and go home.”