There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Bus driver appreciation night

As I have said before, Sacramento Regional Transit needs to create a way for riders to nominate their favorite drivers for a customer service medal for duty above and beyond what RT requires or the union contract demands. And then RT needs to single these drivers out as examples to the other drivers.

Tonight I arrived at the 65th Street transit center on the outbound train at 7:19 p.m. and walked over to the No. 82 stop, where the bus was waiting with the door open. The driver was nearby talking to some people. Inside the bus were a dozen people waiting for the next departure. I took a seat and started reading. The bus wasn't scheduled to leave until 7:28.

Eventually the driver returned and walked the length of the coach, checking passes and transfers, and then he returned to the front of the bus.

At 7:28 p.m., as the driver prepared to get under way, a woman with one child in her arms and two or three more clutching her skirt walked up to the bus. The woman asked the driver in very halting English if the bus goes to Howe and El Camino.

"No," the driver replied. "I only go as far as Howe and Northrup."

The woman clearly didn't understand. Her oldest child, a girl of maybe 10, asked the driver if the bus went to Howe and El Camino.

"Take the Number 87," the driver explained. "Wait 30 minutes."

The mother again said something and the driver repeated that the woman needed to wait 30 minutes and take the No. 87 bus.

As this was going on a woman rider sitting just inside the door stood up to help and then thought better or it and sat down. The driver saw her and invited her to explain to the woman.

"Sorry, I don't speak Spanish that well," the woman said. "Besides, I'm sure the child understood."

Again the driver told the woman to wait for the No. 87 and then he closed the door and pulled away from the curb.

The bus hadn't gone more than 10 feet when the driver stopped and opened the door.

"I know that guy," the driver said to the woman rider in the front of the bus. "He can help."

The driver then left the bus and walked over to a nearby shelter where several people were waiting. He walked up to one guy. I couldn't hear what he said, but he pointed to the woman and obviously explained what he needed translated. He then returned to the bus while the guy walked over to the woman. The driver waited in the door of the bus to make sure the woman understood that the guy was there to help her, and then he closed the door and we were on our way.

"That was really nice," the woman in the front told the driver.

That was more than nice.


Anonymous said...

I believe that you can contact Customer Advocacy - and give them your complilments and complaints. I don't know that anything comes of it, but I do agree that great drivers should be recognized.

Anonymous said...

Ditto - write to

I know that something will come of it.

John said...

I appreciate that the guy who answers the mail will acknowledge receipt of whatever I send. But watching your correspondence cross the event horizon and disappear into a black hole is not enough.

RT should have a means for submitting comments about drivers, and they should display a sampling of those comments on the Web site.

Once a month, the driver with the most comments should be honored with a short profile in the Next Stop News.

There are plenty of great drivers and bus riders would appreciate the opportunity to let RT know.