Tuesday, July 26, 2016

"I'm Parminder. And I Drive It."

Coach Operators do more than safely drive our buses. They connect our customers with work, school, medical care, errands, friends and family. Our drivers are the first friendly face people see when they board. For many of our customers, seeing their regular coach operators every day fosters a sense of community, too. Drivers like Parminder are the face of our agency, and we rely on them to bring our customers home.

A lot has changed at Community Transit since Parminder arrived here from India over 25 years ago. Our bus fleet has evolved to include Double Tall and Swift vehicles, our service area has expanded to over 1,300 square miles, and our coach operator team has doubled in size to over 300 drivers. And we continue to grow! Our drivers now operate routes which include spacious rural regions, charming small towns, and bustling metro areas. Parminder enjoys this change of pace and scenery, "I've done a lot of different routes, and now I drive from Stanwood to Smokey Point/Arlington. I go around lakes and see cattle grazing in fields. I enjoy the mixture of small town driving and countryside driving."

On routes with less congestion, like Parminder's, there's an opportunity for drivers to build a relationship with their regular riders. "I get a lot of senior citizens who are running errands. They call me kid. I feel very blessed to provide service to these people. It makes me feel happy and welcome." It's not all commuters and seniors that Parminder gets to engage with, though. He is also part of a team of 5-6 drivers who drive our articulated buses as part of STEP (School Transit Education Program). He even gets to join Oxy Gene in parades across Snohomish County driving one of the antique buses that were part of our fleet when he first started working with us."

Coach operators like Parminder get behind the wheel after completing and passing a six week comprehensive training program. After graduating from our program they continue to receive training on new routes and new equipment. They also receive yearly ride checks from instructors where they get feedback and coaching on their driving skills. Lastly, our drivers attend yearly refresher training where they are kept abreast of new topics in their field. It is this commitment to supporting our coach operators that really makes a difference. Parminder says, "The atmosphere here is really nice. My colleagues are always helpful, from dispatch to other drivers. There's a lot of teamwork."

Thank you, Parminder, for working hard for over 25 years to bring our customers home. I'm sure they enjoy your smile and positive attitude as much as we do.

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