Recognized by her peers and the passengers who ride her buses, transit operator Mary Hopson is now the recipient of King County Metro’s highest honor: Transit Operator of the Year for 2019. The COVID pandemic delayed recognition of Mary’s achievement.

Mary was surprised by her family and Metro staff at a ceremony celebrating her award.

Selected by her fellow Operators of the Month from 2019, those 84 drivers from Metro’s seven transit bases considered Mary the “best of the best.” Comments from riders on Mary’s routes were also taken into consideration when the making the final choice, along with her safety record, attendance and following Metro’s rules and procedures.

“Transit drivers are our ‘rolling ambassadors,’ and Mary Hopson is one of very best ambassadors we have,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.   “Our riders depend on and trust our drivers to get them to work, school, shopping, and appointments. The praise that Mary has received from those riders is an indication of their appreciation of her dedication, dependability and service to the people of King County.”

Mary Hopson started working for Metro in 1980 and has earned a 37-year Safe Driver Award and received 13 commendations. She drives out of Metro’s Central Base and is currently driving Metro Route 106, which goes from Renton through Skyway, Rainier Beach, along Martin Luther King to Rainier Avenue, and into the International District/Chinatown.

“Mary’s devotion to her passengers, not just their safety, but to their well-being when they board her bus, makes her more than worthy to receive this honor,” said Metro General Manager Terry White. “Mary’s recognition by her fellow drivers show just how respected and loved she is by her peers. I’m proud that she’s part of our Metro family.”

When you’ve been driving for four decades, you gain a lot of admirers. Riders have been praising Mary for years, sending their messages to Metro’s customer service staff:

“Mary is the BEST. Every morning she has a cheerful ‘Hello, how are you doing?’. When I get off later she has a ‘See you tomorrow’. She makes me glad I ride Metro instead of driving my car.”

“Our driver is very friendly and caring, especially when it comes to helping riders with disabilities.”

Born and raised in Seattle, Mary is a graduate of Garfield High School. She and her husband have been together 42 years and have two children and five grandchildren. When not behind the wheel, Mary enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.

Central Base Superintendent Aiyana Brown said that Mary is a proud parent who enjoys talking about her family. She said Mary also is a willing mentor, providing advice and ideas to new operators. “Mary is just a great presence at the base,” said Brown.

The award that Mary received for being Metro’s 2019 Operator of the Year

“Mary Hopson has devoted over four decades of her life to Metro. I have had the privilege to work with her for only a fragment of that time, but she brings a smile and joy to me and those around her every day,” said Central Base Chief Kevin Banks. “She is a devoted, hardworking employee whose dedication deserves recognition and this highest honor of Operator of the Year.”

At the ceremony, Mary received a ring designating her as Metro’s 2019 Operator of the year. Mary also will receive public recognition of her achievement when her image is placed on bus cards both inside and outside on Metro coaches. The same image will be on the cover of the Route Book used by Metro transit operators.

Tim Flanagan, Metro’s Director of Bus Operations, said Mary Hopsons’ service to the community serves as an example to all Transit Operators. “Mary’s commitment to her passengers is recognized by the commendations she has received, and by her fellow drivers, who consider her one of the best. This is a well-deserved honor.”

Mary Hopsons’ advice for her fellow operators is fitting for a driver who has been on the road for 4 decades:

“Follow the rules, policies, and procedures. Mind your business and stay out of the mess.”

Congratulations, Mary!!