TriMet bus operator honored for 30 years/58,000 hours of stellar driving


Rolynd Puckett of Beaverton reaches Gold Master Operator status

TriMet operator Rolynd Puckett training a new operator on Line 67-Merlo Rd/SW 158th Ave

TriMet operator Rolynd Puckett training a new operator on Line 67-Merlo Rd/SW 158th Ave

TriMet bus operator Rolynd Puckett has been awarded the distinction of Gold Master Operator as part of TriMet’s Master Operator Program. Puckett, age 62, has been a TriMet bus operator for 38 years. He is second in seniority; only one other current operator has been at TriMet longer.

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 (SPA) each time they go 1,960 hours of work without any preventable accidents, warnings, reprimands or suspensions. They also must have excellent records of attendance and customer service. To reach Master Operator status, a driver must accumulate ten SPA awards; for Grand Master level, an operator needs 20; and to achieve Gold Master ranking, he or she needs 30 SPA awards. Puckett has 30 SPAs meaning he has driven 58,800 stellar hours. To put that in perspective, that equals 6.7 years.

Puckett said receiving this award is, “a real honor. My career at TriMet has been a great experience.” Puckett continued, “I couldn’t ask for better coworkers. We really are a big family and we are all in this together. We try to help each other out where we can.”

Puckett is one of only three operators at TriMet to receive the Gold Master Operator award. Willie Jack became the first driver in the history of the agency to reach this level of excellence, which he did in April 2012. Larry Williams followed in September.

“Rolynd is a true professional,” said TriMet Executive Director of Operations Shelly Lomax. “During his long career as a professional bus operator he has been a consistently high performer and dedicated employee. He’s easy going, dependable, and always willing to share a smile, kind word or his knowledge with those he works with or the customers he serves. We are lucky to have him as part of the TriMet team.”

For 11 years, Puckett was a “consistent qualifier,” which means that every month of a given year he qualified to be on the ballot for TriMet Bus Operator of the Month. Puckett also has logged 13 years of perfect attendance, 11 of which were consecutive — no small feat.

In addition to his Gold Master status, Puckett has accrued 33 years of Safe Driving Awards and is an esteemed member of the Accident Review Board, lending his years of expertise to this committee. In April of 2010 he joined the Million Mile Club, a club for operators who have driven a million miles safely. It takes at least 30 years to reach this milestone, and operators must earn a National Safety Council Safe Driver Award each of those years. Additionally, in 2011, he was awarded Bus Operator of the Year.

Puckett’s dedication to his job is highlighted by customers who say Puckett is “friendly and warm” and “the nicest bus operator I’ve ever had.”

During his 38 years at TriMet Puckett has witnessed many advances including low-floor buses, the addition of light rail and technological advances like much better communication tools and the advent of Transit Tracker. However, the most memorable aspect of his job has been the people. “I have met a lot of neat passengers over the years, made friends with people on the bus,” said Puckett. “It is special when a rider you haven’t seen for a long time gets on and still remembers you.”

Puckett has driven countless routes and currently drives the first Line 67-Bethany/158th Ave bus of the day from Merlo Rd/SW 158th Avenue to Portland Community College/Rock Creek Campus. He drives out of TriMet’s Merlo Road Operations Center in Beaverton because it’s close to his home, where he has lived for 37 years.

Puckett and his wife of 42 years, Penny, enjoy camping, fishing and clamming together. He’s also involved in activities at his church, including participating in a choir that visits retirement homes and care facilities to entertain residents. He joined TriMet right after his service in the Navy.

As a reminder: Bus Driver Appreciation Day is coming up. Mark your calendars for March 18,2013 to celebrate and honor all TriMet operators.