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Aug. 2, 2010

Metro’s newest top bus driver is a ‘Superman’ to his passengers

OOY2010_web Metro Transit driver Marvin White doesn’t quite have his bus leaping tall buildings, but his passengers seem to believe he could make that happen if he wanted to.

Bus riders on many Eastside routes think White is the Superman of Metro drivers. They describe him as kind, courteous, skilled, and gifted with an ability to stay on schedule “…despite I-405 traffic.”

For all those reasons and more, White today was announced as the King County Metro Transit Operator of the Year for 2009.

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.

“There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Marvin is one of our best operators,” said Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond. “There are dozens of commendations from customers in his file that underline what a great driver – and a great person – Marvin is.”

White, 58, has been driving for Metro since 1979. He was born in Baltimore, grew up in North Carolina, and now lives in Issaquah. Prior to joining Metro, he spent time in the Navy and worked in banking.

On his original job application with Metro, White wrote: “I like meeting the public.” Metro managers say that is an understatement.

“Marvin is one of those operators who knows many of his passengers by name, even though he picks a new route to drive three times a year,” said Metro’s Manager of Operations Jim O’Rourke. “When he goes on vacation, his passengers actually send us emails to tell us they miss him.”

His supervisors at East Base in Bellevue joke that White’s customers know him better than his co-workers, because he spends so much time on the road with them.

“Because he’s such an exemplary operator, we’ve asked Marvin several times to serve on training committees or customer-service focus groups, but he always says no,” said East Base Supervisor Michael List. “Marvin politely turns us down, because he’d rather be with his customers.”

As well as being a friendly driver, White is known for being a safe driver. He has earned a safe driving, accident-free record in 23 of his 31 years with Metro. He’s currently driving the Route 271 serving Issaquah, Bellevue and the University District.

White does manage to sneak in a little free time away from his driving duties. He’s an avid bicyclist and an accomplished musician. He’s played in several Metro-employee bands during his years with the agency.

But he can’t stay away for long – his customers won’t stand for it.

Here’s a sampling of comments from Metro passengers about White:

• “He always has something good to say to everybody, and he greets at least one-third of the passengers on his bus by name every time they get on or off.”

• “When he is not driving the route, the passengers just sit and avoid eye contact. As long as Marvin is at the wheel, everyone is jovial and filled with camaraderie.”

• “If Metro could clone Marvin White, you would double your bus riders in a hurry!”

Desmond says White 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. The annual ceremony is usually held the following summer.

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