Every month, operators from King County Metro’s seven transit bases select their fellow drivers for their positive contributions to Metro and recognize them as Operators of the Month. The operators selected demonstrate safe driving skills; show courteous and helpful attitudes toward customers; and pay conscientious attention to attendance, appearance, and discipline.
We want to introduce you to our Operators of the Month for January and February 2021. Please join us in congratulating them. The Operators of the Month have the privilege of coming together to vote on who among them will be Metro’s Operator of the Year!
(Information and photos provided by the operators)
Atlantic Base| January 2021: Rahab Njuguna
Hired as a part-time operator in August 2018, Rahab became a full-time operator months later. During this time, she has received four commendations. Rahab joined Metro because she wanted to be part of a team that touches people’s lives every day and gives back to the community.
Born and raised in Kenya, where she attended Othaya Girls Secondary School and earned a degree in Business Administration, Rahab is also a graduate of Renton Technical College, with certification as a lab technician.
Married with three children, Rahab enjoys spending time with her family and friends, cooking, and watching movies in her off time.
Rahab’s advice for other operators:
“Treat everyone you meet with kindness. Treat everyone the way you would like to be treated. It will always pay.”
Atlantic Base | February 2021: Renita Asherz
Renita has been a part-time operator since December 2015 and has earned a four-year Safe Driver Award and 12 commendations.
A Chicago native, Renita joined Metro to help keep the community moving and because of the flexible hours.
A mother of two, Renita has been married 25 years. In her spare time, Renita loves to encourage and teach people of all backgrounds and is currently learning another language to better communicate with her neighbors. Renita also enjoys photography, hiking, cooking, and traveling.
Renita’s advice for other operators:
“Control your environment with kindness.”
Bellevue Base | January 2021: Amanpreet Sandhu
Amanpreet was hired as a part-time operator in March 2018 and became a full-time operator in 2021. Amanpreet, who joined Metro because she enjoys both driving and public service, has earned a two-year Safe Driver Award and three commendations.
Born in Ganganagar, India, Amanpreet earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from the BSF Institute of Technology before moving to the U.S. in 2014. Amanpreet and her husband have a 4th grade son. When Amanpreet is not driving, she enjoys cooking—and driving!
Amanpreet’s advice for other operators:
“Always follow Metro’s rule of thumb – safety, service and schedule.”
Bellevue Base | February 2021: Upinder Saini
Upinder started driving for Metro in August 2016 and has been full-time since November 2017. He currently maintains a four-year Safe Driver Award.
Upinder was 24 when he immigrated to Unites States and was a truck driver before choosing the benefits and stability of Metro. Since joining Metro Upinder has quickly developed a reputation among dispatchers as a dependable operator whose positive attitude has gained him the respect of Bellevue Base staff and his fellow operators
Upinder is happily married with one son. Pinder, as he is known to friends, spends his free time enjoying music and pursuing his love of motorcycles.
Upinder’s advice for other operators:
“Always try to learn from others mistakes, and have your mind open to the lessons they provide.”
Central Base | January 2021: Arnino Guanlao
Arnino or “Nino” as he is known at home, started as a part-time operator in May 2015 and went full time five months later. He has earned a four-year Safe Driver Award and received two commendations
Arnino was born in Manila, Philippines. When Arnino’s family moved to Seattle, his father started driving for Metro. After Arnino attended Seattle University to study Criminal Justice and was laid off twice in four years, his father suggested that Arnino also give Metro a try—and he’s been serving the people of King County ever since!
When he’s not driving, he enjoys cooking and spending time with his wife and four daughters. Arnino is also a big fan of basketball.
Arnino’s advice for other operators:
“Take it one trip at a time and bring lots of patience.”
Central Base | February 2021: JoAnn Gries
Hired as a part-time operator in 2000, JoAnn has been driving full-time since 2018. She joined Metro because it offered great pay and benefits, and has earned an 18-year Safe Driver Award and 11 commendations. While driving for Metro, JoAnn also works for a nonprofit organization.
Born in Paranaque, Metro Manila, Philippines, JoAnne came to Seattle at age 12, and attended Shoreline College on a volleyball and tennis scholarship.
In her spare time, JoAnn likes playing sports, watching TV and movies, traveling, and spending time with family of her mother and two brothers.
JoAnn’s advice for other operators:
“Live life the fullest and always focus on the positive.”
East Base | January 2021: Eli Woodward
Eli has been driving part-time since April 2010 and has earned a ten-year Safe Driver Award and six commendations.
Born in Seattle and raised in Alaska, Eli started driving buses while attending the University of Iowa. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in religious studies with an emphasis on religion, culture, and society.
Inspired by his transit experience in Iowa, Eli became a transit operator for King County Metro, where he enjoys the flexibility of being a part-time operator.
The schedule has allowed him the time to build the house that he and his family live in, homeschool his elementary school-age daughter, and spend time with his family. Eli enjoys cooking, being in the outdoors, and building projects.
Eli’s advice for other operators:
“When the zone is empty, you are still fulfilling a promise to be there when someone needs you again.”
East Base | February 2021: Theresa Coates
Theresa was hired as a part-time operator in 2016 and went full-time in 2017. Theresa joined Metro because she loves to drive and enjoys working around people. She has earned a five-year Safe Driver Award and five Commendations.
Theresa grew up in Kirkland, where she has lived for 59 years. Theresa cared for her elderly mother for about 10 years until last year, and raised her two children (who went to the same Kirkland schools Theresa did!) with her partner.
On her days off, Theresa likes to travel (particularly to the Oregon & Washington coast); play softball; and watch sports—especially her daughter’s softball and dance events, and her son’s football games.
Theresa’s advice for other operators:
“Always be aware of the unexpected, and take corners slow.”
North Base | January 2021: Jennifer Barringer
Jennifer joined Metro as a part-time operator in January 2017 and went full-time 11 months later. She has earned six commendations and a three-year Safe Driver Award.
After her son joined the Marine Corps, Jennifer was an empty nester, so she decided to take a new path and joined Metro.
A Washington native, Jennifer loves to go on adventures around the Northwest, including hiking, skiing, and paddle boarding. She also enjoys good food, family, friends, and laughing and smiling as much as she can.
Jennifer’s favorite hobbies are going to old car shows, seeing classic cars, and working on cars.
Jennifer’s advice for other operators:
“Treat others the you want to be treated, and laugh a lot because it keeps you young at heart.”
North Base | February 2021: Frank Lacey
Frank, also known as “Cowboy,” started as a part-time operator in 1994 and went full-time in 1997. During his time with Metro, Frank—who became a transit operator to the learn the city and enjoy the company of other people—has earned a 25-year Safe Driver Award and several commendations.
Born in Houston, Frank attended Sam Houston State University, where he studied communications. Married and the father of two, Frank enjoys cycling, riding his motorcycle, catching live music, dancing, and horseback riding.
Frank’s advice for other operators:
“Always be aware of what’s going on around you and treat others the way you wish to be treated – with respect!”
Ryerson Base | January 2021: Madelyn Rosenberg
Madelyn was hired as a part-time operator in May 2015 and went full time nine months later. She has earned a three-year Safe Driver Award and eight commendations.
Before joining Metro, Madelyn had been in customer service several years and always enjoyed road trips. After finding out about Metro during a lunchtime meeting with a friend, Madelyn went home filled out an application. A month later, Metro invited her to interview.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, and adopted at birth, Madelyn and her adoptive family moved to Seattle when she was a child. She fell in love with the area and has climbed Mt. Rainier because, “it was there.” Madelyn recently found her birth family and discovered that she is the oldest of four siblings!
Madelyn has several degrees. She received a radiologic degree from Bellevue College, earned a medical assistant degree from Everest College, and learned massage therapy from Brenneke School of Massage.
Madelyn’s Advice for other operators:
“Remember to breathe, always keep your sense of humor, and get home safely.”
Ryerson Base | February 2021: Salvador Cortes
Salvador started as a part-time operator in 1993 has been full-time since 1997. He has earned a 25-year Safe Driver Award.
Born and raised in Colima, Mexico, Salvador attended the University of Colima and came to the U.S. in 1988 in search of a better life. When he settled in Washington, Salvador had offers from both Metro and USPS; he has no regrets choosing Metro.
Married with two children and two grandchildren, Salvador enjoys spending his days off camping, fishing, and doing anything outside in the Pacific Northwest!
Salvador’s advice for other operators:
“Don’t take it personal and expect the unexpected. Show up and do your part, Metro is a great place to work.”
South Base | January 2021: Lynnette Harrell
Lynnette was hired as a part-time operator in July 1986 and went full-time in May 1990. Lynnette, who joined Metro because she “wanted to work indoors but outdoors,” has earned a 26-year Safe Driver Award and several commendations. She is learning sign language to better accommodate her customers.
Born in Galveston, Texas, Lynnette and her family moved to Seattle when she was nine years old and she is a graduate of Garfield High School.
Lynnette has been involved with Paralyzed Veterans of America since the 1980’s, and has twice been recognized for her service on their behalf.
A widow with four grandchildren, Lynnette spends her spare time dancing, playing chess, and going to a shooting range for target practice—where she often hits the bull’s eye.
Lynnette’s advice for other operators:
“Gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
South Base| February 2021: Brandy Johnston
Brandy started as a part-time operator in April 2012 and went full time in May 2015. She has earned an eight-year Safe Driver Award and several commendations.
Brandy was born in El Cajon, California, and moved to Seattle with her family when she was five years old. A graduate of Highline College with an Associate of Arts degree in biology, Brandy joined Metro because she likes to meet people and enjoys the view from her “cubicle.”
Married with six children, Brandy enjoys spending her spare time scrapbooking, studying about family history, and taking pictures.
Brandy’s advice for other operators:
“Only you can choose to have an okay day or a great day! It’s all about your attitude, and nobody can control that better than you.”