Each month, we highlight a bus or train operator for their exceptional customer service. This month, we would like to highlight all of our operators:
RTD bus and light rail operators do an amazing job transporting our passengers to their destinations, day in and day out. It’s a challenging job, but they do it well. And, our passengers appreciate it.
RTD riders are known for saying “thank you” to their operators when they exit the bus, something that isn’t common with other transit operations in the country. Riders frequently let us know the good deeds their operators do and you’ll see those operators spotlighted in our “Operator of the Month” feature. Riders also show their appreciations in other ways. For instance, a group of passengers decorated bus operator Phil Challis’ bus on his last day before retirement. One daily rider on the Route LD bus to and from Longmont made a holiday card and passed it around the bus. It came back to her with a bunch of signatures and another card with additional signatures, which they presented to their driver. The bus operator, Stephen, was surprised and elated. He’d never been offered such a gesture by passengers in his 30 years with RTD.
Gestures of appreciation like these are welcomed by our operators and they help morale and the challenges with mandating, which requires them to work six-day work weeks. Mandating has intensified for the last five years for bus operators and more than six months for rail operators. It can be very stressful on their work/life balance, but they do it because of their dedication to our passengers.
Most of our bus and light rail operators come in for their shift at 3 a.m., while most people are still in bed. And some are driving past midnight.
Driving a bus is more than driving from Point A to Point B. John Johnson, who has been driving with RTD for 20 years, described it like this:
“You have to be empathetic, a public relations representative, a mediator, a sociologist, a psychologist, a professional operator, a mind reader, and while you’re doing all that, you have to be able to anticipate what the cars are going to do around your bus. Is that guy going to change lanes? Is he going to pull in front of me, slam on the brakes and turn?”
Bus and light rail operators must report to duty in snowy weather. Bus operators drive in the terrible road conditions that storms bring. They are driving in heavy traffic, which as you well know, has ballooned in the last decade or so.
On snowy days, light rail operators work overnight to run the trains along the various alignments so that the overhead power lines don’t freeze.
Our operators chose to enter a life of public service. Each day brings a new and different challenge and each and every one of our operators can handle what the day brings them.
That’s why we, at RTD, want to take this opportunity to thank them for what they do every day for our passengers and region.