King County Metro is joining with KEXP in celebrating the most visible part of our regional mobility system: our transit operators!
Transit Operator Appreciation Day is Thursday, March 18. Please join in recognizing the 2,700 operators who:
- Greet you while you’re going to work, a doctor’s appointment, or the store,
- Put out the ramp to help when your hands are full with bags of groceries or when you have a stroller,
- Pilot your Water Taxi safely across Elliott Bay to Vashon or West Seattle,
- Wave as you get off Link Light Rail or the First Hill or South Lake Union Streetcar,
- And help your grandparents get to the senior center or assist your friends with mobility challenges through Metro’s Access program.
“Metro operators are King County’s ambassadors on the road, by rail, and over water,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “On this Transit Operator Appreciation Day, I want to thank each and every one of them for safely getting riders where they want to go. I also want to recognize all of Metro’s essential workers, from the Vehicle Maintenance crews who keep the buses running, to our Access drivers who have been doing double-duty, taking seniors to their vaccination appointments and making food runs for those who in quarantine. Public transportation and public radio are a great combination, and I look forward to hearing stories from KEXP listeners around the region about their personal experiences with Metro drivers over the years.”
In recognition of Transit Operator Appreciation Day, Metro and KEXP encourage the public to thank, recognize, and celebrate the essential work Metro’s bus, rail, streetcar, Access, and Water Taxi operators for being there for anyone needing public transit. We also want to encourage our riders and the public to say thanks to all the Metro employees that have kept our regional mobility system moving and serving the public every single day in this ever-changing and challenging environment.
With a full day of radio programming, including requests and stories by and for transit workers, songs about getting around town, and much more, KEXP will be a vital part of the day-long celebration of bus drivers, train operators, and other transit workers who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic to keep our cities moving.
“KEXP is proud to honor those transit workers who have stepped up to support communities that needed them most during this pandemic,” said Larry Mizell. Jr., host of The Afternoon Show. “We look forward to playing the songs that uplift their spirit and invite listeners to share their stories. Thank you for moving the people and showing none of us are alone.”
KEXP is asking transit workers and listeners to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive instructions on how they may record audio that could be part of this special day. On March 18, tune in at 90.3 FM or KEXP.org, and follow along @KEXP on Twitter and Instagram.
“Along with being the public face of our regional mobility system, our operators are professionals who didn’t hesitate in their commitment to the public during one of the most challenging periods of our history,” said Metro General Manager Terry White. “I can’t thank them enough for their service. I also want to thank all our essential workers across Metro. The operators are the smiling faces the public sees every day, but getting buses, vans, trains, and boats out on the road, rail, and water is a collaborative effort. That effort includes our Vehicle Maintenance crews who this year fabricated and installed over 1,400 health partitions on our buses and keep everything in working order, our Facilities teams who clean and disinfect our buildings, stations, and transit hubs, and our customer service staff who keep our passengers informed with timely service updates. I want to thank them all for the work they do to provide safe and reliable transit!”
Metro’s operators have been on the frontline, staying behind the wheel (or tiller) to ensure that other essential workers have a safe, reliable transportation option to get to their jobs.
While many commuters are working from home, the routes with that have maintained the highest ridership demand have been consistent with known geographical inequities in King County. Most of these routes are located in south King County and these riders disproportionately came from communities that are lower income and more racially diverse than King County as a whole. Essential workers, and people who depend on public transportation for their essential trips, are concentrated in areas with high percentages of people of color and low-income residents.
The roots of Transit Operator Appreciation Day start in 2009, when two Seattle bus riders said they should do something for the drivers who brought smiles to their faces every day. What began as a local recognition called Bus Driver Appreciation Day has now become a celebration supported by the Amalgamated Transit Union and recognized throughout North America as Transit Driver Appreciation Day.
To find out more on how to send a commendation or compliment about your transit operator, go to https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/transit-driver-day.aspx