Operators of the Year celebrated by agency and peers
Each year TriMet honors a bus, rail and mini-run operator who exemplifies superior performance in safety, customer service and attendance. This afternoon, TriMet’s General Manager Neil McFarlane unveiled the results of the 2013 Operator of the Year election. The winners were chosen by their peers and honored at an employee ceremony.
Bus Operator of the Year
Willie Jack, who lives in Northeast Portland, was the first Gold Master Operator at TriMet, meaning the first in the history of the agency to complete Master Operator requirements three consecutive times. He has also accrued 34 years of Safe Driving Awards and has earned 31 Superior Performance Awards in his 36 years at TriMet. He has been inducted into the Million Miles of Safety Club and was TriMet’s Operator of the Year in 1985. Jack currently drives out of TriMet’s Center Street Garage in Portland.
Recently a customer called and said, “I take this particular bus to dialysis about three times a week and I have had him for about 4-5 months now. I am in a wheelchair and I had to ride the LIFT for a few months because I had to have surgery. When I got back to regular service he realized that I had surgery and he started dropping me off not at the stop, but in front of the actual building where I need to go for dialysis. Then yesterday the 17 was late getting to my connecting stop, and the 17 (operator) honked the horn, and this operator waited for me to get off and to get to his bus to get me on. I am very appreciative, and I would have missed my dialysis had he not waited. I thought that was just great and he is a wonderful driver.”
Jack is a true asset to the agency, exemplifying TriMet’s commitment to safety and mission to provide transit service that is safe, dependable and easy to use.
MAX Operator of the Year
Ivan Semenyuk, from Happy Valley, is now a two-time winner of Rail Operator of the Year. Semenyuk won the award for the first time in 2008 and then again this year. He is a Master Operator who started his career at TriMet in 1996. He has accrued 26 years of Safe Driving Awards and 18 Superior Performance Awards. Semenyuk has been a rail operator since 2001 and has been awarded Operator of the Quarter multiple times. Semenyuk operates the Blue, Green and Yellow Lines out of TriMet’s Ruby facility.
Semenyuk has received many commendations, including, “I received a bag turned into lost and found for a customer, who did not speak English. This operator talked to them on the phone and translated for me, and helped get the bag to them, as they were elderly.”
Semenyuk furthers TriMet’s values of doing the right thing, by being responsive inclusive and accountable. He is a strong representative for light rail and the agency.
Part-time Operator of the Year
Terrie Sweet, from Beaverton, became a Senior Operator in 2011 and has nine years of Safe Driving Awards. Sweet joined TriMet is 2003 and was awarded her sixth Superior Performance Award in 2012. She has qualified for Mini-Run Operator of the Quarter multiple times. Sweet operates out of the Merlo garage in Beaverton.
A customer who used to ride with this operator from Multnomah Village to downtown Portland in the morning says he “wishes to commend this operator. She is consistently a very good driver, very conscientious, skilled, calls out all bus stops and is very nice to the customers.”
TriMet operators are the backbone of this agency and Sweet’s dedication and commitment helps further TriMet’s vision to do our part in making our community the best place to live in the country.
Dedication to safety and customer service
“TriMet is lucky to have such dedicated operators who strive for excellence in safety and customer service day in and day out,” said McFarlane. “Today we honor and thank Willie Jack, Terrie Sweet, and Ivan Semenyuk for their commitment to excellence and for providing outstanding service to the region.”
Operators qualify for the Operator of the Year program by meeting safety, customer service and attendance standards. The winners are determined by a vote of their peers.
Awards and Recognition
TriMet’s Master Operator Program recognizes bus and rail operators who achieve overall excellence in their duties as professional drivers.
Operators earn Superior Performance Awards (SPAs) each time they go 1,960 hours of work without any preventable accidents, warnings, reprimands or suspensions.
The National Safety Council (NSC) recognizes professional drivers by presenting them with Safe Driving Awards for each year they drive without a preventable accident. The NSC defines a preventable collision as one in which the driver failed to do everything that reasonably could have been done to avoid it.