Tag Archives: Bus Driver Appreciation Day

Bus driver as superhero

There are not enough words in my limited (yet stank) vocabulary to describe the level of nonsense bus riders in my neighborhood have endured since the Seattle Department of Transportation embarked upon its interminable 23rd Avenue Corridor improvement project.

Theoretically, after the work is done, the streets will be better and safer for all users, though those users will not necessarily be the people who are enduring the construction chaos. Independent businesses are stretched to the breaking point, and, as anyone in a gentrifying/fied city knows well, improvements almost always result in even more displacement.

I digress.

Bitterness aside, safer crossings, wider sidewalks, smoother pavement, and whatever other stuff work crews have been doing for the past 11 months (and counting) are good. What is not good is how bus riders have been affected by the poorly managed — and terribly communicated — construction. Bus routes are constantly rerouted and re-rerouted, with precious little (if any) notice. Riders wait for long periods at stops that have been closed because signs are placed in locations where most riders are unlikely to look.* Those who are fortunate enough to learn about a closures in advance often go to the updated pickup point, only to have the drivers blow right past them, apparently unaware that passengers of their route will be waiting there. And don’t get me started on the reroutes that happen mid-ride.

I am not telling you all of this to complain about SDOT’s and Metro’s poor coordination and communication (OK, maybe I am a little) but instead to provide context for yet another example of why bus drivers who are good at their (incredibly difficult) job are so important to our community.

Last week, our family went out to dinner to celebrate Bus Nerd’s birthday. While we waited for the 3, which was supposed to be arriving in a couple of minutes, a Metro supervisor arrived — I assume to put up signage — and let us know that SDOT was closing the street at that very moment. Before the work crew could finish putting out the barrier, a bus came through the intersection. The bus was out of service, heading back to base, but the driver pulled over to ask the supervisor what was happening. (Not surprisingly, he hadn’t been notified of the closure.)

After the supervisor told him what was up, the driver offered to take us to our destination, which was less than a mile down the same street. A woman who had been waiting at the stop with us tentatively told him she was going downtown. He smiled and waved her on board.

“I’ll get you there,” he said. (Indeed.)

I have no doubt that it had been a long day for that driver.** He was probably ready to be finished with passengers and stop-and-go travel and hightail it back to the base for some rest (and a bathroom break). But, he proceeded to stop at every stop along the road, picking up folks who would otherwise have been waiting (and waiting!) with no clue what was going on. He did his best to answer their questions, despite his limited knowledge of the situation. And he did it with a smile.

I didn’t post about it on the big day this year, so now seems as good a time as any to say: Damn straight they deserve a holiday.

* I wish I had a photo of the most egregious example of this, which was at the 27/8 stop in my neighborhood. Unfortunately, the camera on my six(+)-year old phone is no longer working.
** When you’re a bus driver, every day is long, regardless of the number of hours you put in.

My kind of bus driver appreciation

Since today is all about appreciating drivers, I want to tell you guys about an idea that I’ve had for many years but have never been organized (or brave) enough to act on.

You know those firefighter calendars? The ones that feature smokin’ hot first responders lounging around the fire house conveniently missing most of their gear? Yeah, those.

We need one for bus drivers. Seriously. I mean, we’ve all seen at least one driver (or six) we we’d like to “appreciate” up close, right?


Imagine this–with bus drivers! (Photo credit: @emilyrahimi)

The calendar could be used to raise money for a transit-related nonprofit, or the ATU—shoot, for some dang bathrooms for our superheroes to use.

We’d need to find a pro bono photographer, of course. And we’d need a way to identify candidates and/or invite them to participate–other than approaching them, stalker-style, while they’re trying to do their jobs, that is. And someone would have to prevent me from giving the calendar a completely inappropriate (but hilarious) name.

But just imagine if we pulled it off!

Who’s with me? If we start now, we could definitely have it together by December.

A driver holiday by any other name…

Today is the seventh year that Bus Driver Appreciation Day has been a thing. In the last couple of years, it has really picked up steam, with transit agencies from across the country–including King County Metro–promoting the day. Along with the agency involvement has come a minor, seemingly innocuous change to the name of the celebration–to Transit Driver Appreciation Day.


Of course all transit drivers are fantastic and important and blahblahblah, but the purpose of this day, March 18th, is to honor BUS drivers. A good bus driver is like a superhero. Maneuvering a gigantic vehicle in traffic while managing passenger needs, trying to keep a schedule, not kill anyone, and deal with occasional (or not-so-occasional) drama has got to be ridiculously difficult—especially if you never get to go to the bathroom.

As for me and mine: We’ll stick with the original name.

C & B heart bus drivers

Upcoming events for transit types

Bus Driver Appreciation Day

What: A holiday set aside to acknowledge, celebrate, and otherwise lift up all the hard-working men and women who get us where we’re going. (Note: KC Metro drivers–and, I’m assuming, drivers of many other transit systems–are not allowed to accept gifts. But, saying something nice, like, “thanks for your hard work” or, “happy Bus Driver Appreciation Day” isn’t against any rules I know of.)
When: Sunday, March 18, all day long
Where: Public buses on planet Earth

Humanity on Wheels: An Evening of Mass Transit Tales

What: A “TriMet Diaries storytelling event inspired by Muni Diaries Live and Back Fence PDX.” I heard about this when I was wandering the streets of Portland weekend before last, and I thought it sounded fun. I’m going to have to see about making something similar happen in the 206.
When: Tuesday, March 20th, 7:30 PM
Where: Jack London Bar, 529 SW 4th Ave, Portland

Perspectives on Public Transportation

What: A moderated discussion between authors Darrin Nordahl and Jarrett Walker about what will attract riders to public transit.
When: Wednesday, April 18th, 7:30 – 9:00 PM
Where: Town Hall, 1119 8th Ave, Seattle
How much: $5

Bus Driver Appreciation Day, 2011

Green beer and pinching are all well and good, but that’s just the warm-up to March’s most important holiday. Folks, tomorrow, March 18th, is the day to say thanks to all the hard-working men and women who do what it takes to get you where you’re going. Some manage to do it while adding a little flavor or humor to the ride. Others while (no disrespect to my Bus Nerd) looking ridiculously good. There’s an 8 driver out there who really needs to be in some sort of calendar. And while we’re on the subject: Why is there never a Stranger’s Sexiest category for bus drivers?

I digress.

Fellow transit types, go forth, and appreciate. But no pinching!

Thanks (again) for the ride!

Tomorrow is Bus Driver Appreciation Day. (Two holidays in one week!) Since last year, I’ve learned that Metro drivers are not allowed to accept gifts, but (as far as I know) there’s no rule against letting your favorite drivers know their hard work matters to you.

So thanks, Busfather, Smooth Jazz, DJ, and all the others, for getting me there–and for keeping me entertained on the ride.

Today’s the day!

Call me a BDP or a mindless Metro booster if you must, but I’m excited to celebrate Bus Driver Appreciation Day. I am grateful for all the hard-working men and women who’ve been getting me there for six years and then some, and I’m especially grateful for those who’ve managed to do it with a smile (or a little music).

This new (because we said so!) holiday seems like a pretty good excuse to share stories about our favorite–and most memorable–drivers. What you got?

Thanks for the ride! (part II)

Hans and Shannon, two soon-to-be-married bus types from Capitol Hill, have officially declared March 18th Bus Driver Appreciation Day. (Apparently, there is no such official day–at least not one that they could find record of.) I, for one, am totally on board (sorry, couldn’t resist) and ready to help make it happen. Since this is a new thing, we get to decide how it works. Here’s what I’m thinking:

Next Wednesday, tell every driver whose bus you ride, “Happy Bus Driver Appreciation Day!” Make sure to keep smiling, even if they all look at you like you’re crazy. If you have a favorite driver, consider bringing him/her a card* or other token–nothing that would be hard to keep on a bus all day, just something small** to show your love.

So, my fellow riders: Go forth, and appreciate. And oh yeah: Pass it on!

* Note to Hallmark: In case you missed the headlines: More people than ever are riding the bus. Don’t sleep on this opportunity!
**I talked to a few veteran drivers who suggested that jewelry was sufficiently small. They were kidding, of course. Sort of.