Another bus “father” is OOY

Federico “Pops” Banzuela is KC Metro’s 2010 Operator of the Year.

“Fred” Banzuela

Key information: Mr. Banzeula is a report operator, which means he drives different routes every day. Also, he’s a father figure of sorts to the less experienced drivers at Central Base.

His supervisors say Banzuela also has an unofficial assignment as “Pops” to the rest of the drivers. He’s a source of information and advice for the rookies who aren’t yet comfortable addressing their supervisors or chiefs. The staff rely on him to help keep the peace, be supportive, and to give good advice.

Of course, there’s only one Busfather*, but I have no doubt that “bus pops” will represent. Here’s his full bio:

Banzuela was born and raised in the Philippines, and came to the United States in 1970 to study. In 1971, he enrolled in the Army and served on active duty until 1978. In 1980, he began driving for Metro as a full-time transit operator and continued his education at Seattle Central Community College, eventually receiving an Associates Arts degree in Social and Human Services. He resumed his military career with the Washington National Guard’s 303rd Armor Brigade in 1997. From 2004-2005, his unit was sent to fight in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He retired from the Army in 2006.

Banzuela, a Rainier Beach resident, works as a report driver at Metro’s Central Base, which means he fills in wherever he is needed – no matter which route it may be. He has only had one accident in his 31 years with Metro.

“As a report operator, Fred often gets his assignment at the last moment and is required to know every route out of Central Base,” said Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond. “He works tirelessly and without complaint, starting work as early as 4 a.m. and sometimes not getting done until after 7 p.m. That requires a great deal of skill, particularly when you consider Fred’s outstanding safety record.”

His supervisors say Banzuela also has an unofficial assignment as “Pops” to the rest of the drivers. He’s a source of information and advice for the rookies who aren’t yet comfortable addressing their supervisors or chiefs. The staff rely on him to help keep the peace, be supportive, and to give good advice.

“Whenever we have new drivers who are trying to learn how to deal with the stresses of the job, we’ll tell them: ‘Go hang out with Fred for a while and he’ll teach you the ropes,’” said Central Base Chief John Lewis. “He is dedicated to his family – both his own at home and his Metro family at work.”

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*Busfather happens to be the only OOY I’ve met in person while he still held the title. And have I mentioned that (since our initial meeting) I’ve run into the man around my neighborhood fairly regularly? We’ve even ridden the 27 together!

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