July 24, 2009
Skill, service & warm heart fuel success for Metro’s driver of the year
Over the years, bus riders have told Metro Transit that they are lucky to have a driver like Ineke DeBoer behind the wheel. Obviously her co-workers and managers agree, because today DeBoer was announced as the King County Metro Transit Operator of the Year for 2008.
The annual award honors operators who demonstrate safe driving skills, exceptional customer service, and an outstanding overall work record. It is a peer award, with the winner selected by other Metro drivers.
DeBoer, a native of the Netherlands, has been a full-time driver for Metro since 1979. She immigrated to the United States as a young bride, but sadly was widowed at age 21. She first found work as an interpreter for an airline based at Sea-Tac, and then joined Metro a few years later.
“Ineke speaks four languages, but most of all she communicates care and compassion in delivering her passengers safely to their destinations every day,” said Metro Operations Manager Jim O’Rourke. “Her safety record is great, and customers regularly take the time to call or send an email to tell us how much they enjoy her being their driver.”
DeBoer’s warm heart is well known in the community, too. She has been active in the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization for many years, and in 2002 was honored as “Big Sister of the Year” for the Pacific Coast region. She and her second husband, Metro Operator Richard Jensen, have an active family of children and grandchildren. They are known for their warm and friendly home, where any kid is always welcome.
DeBoer, 53, works out of Metro’s North Base, where she currently drives the routes 31 and 68, both of which serve the University District by way of Northgate and Magnolia. She is a resident of the Green Lake neighborhood in Seattle.
“The customers love Ineke, and she is well-liked here at the base,” said her supervisor at North Base Dave Jolly. “She’s always ready to help new drivers learn the ropes, and really watches out for her customers. She has a devotion to service whether it’s at work or in her personal life.”
Here’s a sampling of comments from Metro passengers about DeBoer:
• The bus driver is awesome. She has red hair and a cool accent. She is just very friendly, helpful, and funny.
• We are elderly. The driver showed us where to get the bus so we could get home, and walked us two blocks to help us catch the next bus. Metro is lucky to have her.
• I boarded at the same time the Nisqually Earthquake struck, and want to thank the driver for handling the situation well and helping to calm the passengers. The driver did a great job!
O’Rourke says DeBoer is a great representative for all the bus drivers in the agency. Metro employs more than 2,800 operators who do all they can to help passengers reach their destinations safely and on time.
Since 1978, the drivers themselves have selected the best of their peers to hold the title of Metro Transit’s Operator of the Year. In order to receive the award, a driver must be chosen as Operator of the Month from one of the seven transit bases. At the end of the year, the Operator of the Year is selected by a vote of all fellow Operators of the Month.