A “transit nerd.” Someone who helps his community in filling out their tax forms. A retired professional hairdresser. Two people who grew up riding buses. Together they represent over 200 years of driving experience.

Meet your Operators of the Month for May and June 2021.

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.

Please join us in congratulating them. The Operators of the Month have the privilege of coming together later to vote on who among them will be Metro’s Operator of the Year!

(Information and photos provided by the operators)

Atlantic Base | May 2021:  Alexander Burns
Hired as a part-time operator in 2015, Alex went full-time in 2016. He has earned a three-year Safe Driver Award and five commendations.

Alexander Burns, May Operator of the Month, Atlantic Base Alex, who considers himself somewhat of a transit nerd, became an operator because the starting pay was double his previous job.

Born and raised in Michigan, Alex graduated from Earlham College in Indiana with a degree in politics.

Alex and his wife live in the Seattle area, and when he’s not behind the wheel, his enjoys reading science fiction and learning about history and science.

Alex’s advice for other operators:
“Go slow, check your mirrors, and help out your co-workers.”

Atlantic Base | June 2021:  Omar Osman
Omar was hired as a part-time operator in 2013 and went full-time in 2015. He has earned a six-year Safe Driver Award and five commendations.

Born and raised in Somalia, Omar moved to India to study at Symbiosis High School, Osmania University, and University of Pune, where he earned a post-graduate degree in finance and accounting. He then moved to the Middle East before ultimately settling in Seattle. Omar puts his educational background to great use each tax season by volunteering to help families file their taxes!

Omar became a transit operator “by chance” while looking for finance and accounting positions. Though not the career he expected, he enjoys driving and interacting with people from different backgrounds.

Married with two children, Omar enjoys watching soccer and traveling.

Omar’s advice for other operators:
“Be patient with your elderly passengers.”

Bellevue Base | May 2021:  Darren Lucchini
Darren was hired as a part-time operator in 1983 and went full-time in 1986. He has earned a 36-year Safe Driver Award and nine commendations.

Born and raised in the Seattle area, Darren grew up riding public transit with his mother, where he would collect schedules and talk with the operators. This experience inspired him to become an operator himself because it looked like a fun job.

A graduate of John F. Kennedy Catholic High School and Seattle University, Darren lives with his wife and their two cats and enjoys hiking and barbecuing.

Darren’s advice for other operators:
“Develop a routine that allows you to get plenty of rest — a routine that keeps you mentally and physically healthy.

Bellevue Base | June 2021:  Benjamin Ellis

Benjamin Ellis, June Operator of the Month, Bellevue Base Ben was hired as a part-time operator in 2012 and went full-time in 2015. He has earned a seven-year Safe Driver Award and five commendations.

Ben is the oldest of three brothers and is part of a Metro family: four out of five family members work for Metro! Ben became a transit operator because of his commitment to public service and giving back to the community.

Ben loves outdoor activities, especially golfing, hiking, and gardening. He also loves traveling the world with his lovely wife of nine years.

Ben’s advice for other operators:
“Smile, wave, and be as friendly as you want to see in return. Slow down, enjoy the scenery, and let go of the schedule. Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast and safe.”

Central Base | May 2021:  Chad Solomon
Chad started as a part-time operator in 2010 and went full-time in 2013. He has earned a 10-year Safe Driver Award and three commendations.

On being an operator, Chad says he never thought driving a “bendy” bus would be so much fun, “plus it is the best corner office job.” On his layovers, Chad can be found walking or climbing stairs.Chad Solomon, May Operator of the Month, Central Base

Born in Roseburg, Ore. Chad was living in the Portland area, where he worked in retail, warehouses, and on the railroad until being lured to Seattle in 2010 by the beautiful scenery.

When not at work, Chad enjoys collecting and assembling model passenger trains and Lego models. Chad married his husband six years ago at the Space Needle. They share their home with their two “spoiled rotten” cats.

Chad’s Advice for other operators:
“Be respectful toward others. You don’t know what they might be going through.”

Central Base | June 2021:  Michael Bible
Hired as an operator in 1998, Michael has earned an 18-year Safe Driver Award and 17 commendations. He has been a report operator for the past two years.

 Michael Bible, June Operator of the Month, Central BaseMichael was born in Oakland, Calif., and grew up in Seattle, where he graduated from Franklin High School. He frequently rode Metro as a youth, including buses operated by his next-door neighbor. This connection to an operator sparked his interest and inspired him to apply for the job when he was 21.

Michael has a son and a daughter. His hobbies include traveling and watching his son play sports.

Michael’s advice for other operators:
“Show up to work on time and never take anything personal from passengers, and always make sure you make it home safe.”

East Base | May 2021:  Holly Stewart
Holly was first hired as an operator in 1992, left several years later, and rejoined Metro in 2010. She has earned a five-year Safe Driver Award and three commendations.

Holly’s advice for other operators:
“We are not just bus drivers but first responders, social services, and tour guides. There isn’t a single one of us who hasn’t witnessed some kind of horror. The question remains: What do we do? Each must find their own way, as I cannot presume that my truth would be yours. I do know that each day offers the opportunity to practice compassionate understanding towards the public and myself.”

East Base | June 2021:  Stacy Valentin
Stacy started as a part-time operator in 2016 and went full-time in 2018. She has earned a four-year Safe Driver Award and two commendations.

After working in the medical field for 14 years, Stacy was ready to make a change. She became a transit operator to better her life and confirms that she made the right choice. As a single mother of two, Stacy is focused on being the best mom and driver that she can be.

Born in Los Angeles to Honduran parents, Stacy is the youngest sibling and the only one born outside of Honduras. Her hobbies include Zumba, walking, and sewing, and she hopes to travel more.

Stacy’s advice for other operators:
“Don’t get comfortable. Always be aware of your surroundings and take it nice and slow. Like my instructor said, the only love triangle you should be in is between you and your two mirrors.”

North Base |May 2021: Janet Christiansen
Janet was hired as a part-time operator in 1993 and went full-time in 1997. She has earned a 25-year Safe Driver Award and 23 commendations.

Janet was born in Aurora, Ill., and lived there until her family moved to Bellevue. She graduated from Newport High School and then went on to beauty school. Once Janet completed her training, she was hired by the Gene Juarez Salon, where she worked her way up to be a color specialist. After 15 years in the salon business, she decided to take her client’s recommendation and applied at Metro. Even after joining Metro, Janet continued doing hair and sometimes found herself working seven days a week.

After selling her house, she retired completely from the salon business and is currently remodeling her condo.

Janet has two children and enjoys cards and traveling.

Janet’s advice for other operators:
“Stay calm and don’t be in a hurry.”

North Base | June 2021:  Michael Leck
Mike was hired as a part-time operator in September 1980 and became a full-time operator in 1983. Mike, who became a transit operator because he loves driving and serving people, has earned a 32-year Safe Driver Award and 14 commendations, and was recognized in October 2007 as an Operator of the Month.Michael Leck, June 2021 Operator of the Month, North Base

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Mike grew up along Route 12 on Capitol Hill. He attended Garfield High School and Shoreline Community College.

Mike has a wife, four children and five grandchildren. He enjoys spending time with his friends and family and participating in an investment club.

Mike’s advice for other operators:
“By respecting yourself first, it allows you to respect others much easier, especially when they’re not being respectful!”

Ryerson Base | May 2021: Ceasar Bahta
Ceasar was hired as a part-time operator in 2016 and went full-time in 2017. He has earned a four-year Safe Driver Award and five commendations.

Ceasar’s advice for other operators:
“Don’t take the disrespect from passengers personally.”

Ryerson Base | June 2021:  Dawn Sly
Dawn was hired as a part-time operator in September 2016 and says she is part-time operator for life. She has earned a four-year Safe Driver Award and four commendations.

Dawn is a sixth generation Seattleite and attended the University of Washington, majoring in social anthropology. She retired after 30 years in the automotive repair industry and wanted a part-time job that was customer-focused to keep herself busy. Dawn loves to interact and study people, so becoming a Metro bus driver caught her eye.

Dawn has a husband of 35 years and two adult sons, and one  of her sons is waiting for Metro to start recruiting operators again to follow in his mom’s footsteps.

When not at work, Dawn spends a lot of time working on her house and hiking with her dogs.

Dawn’s advice for other operators:
“Remember that the only thing you can control is yourself, and you choose how to react to every situation.”

South Base | May 2021: Magdalena Limon

Magdalena (or “Moggie”) was hired as a part-time operator in June 2001. Moggie, who was influenced by another operator to apply for Metro while she worked in the childcare business, has earned an 18-year Safe Driver Award and two commendations.

Born in San Juan, Texas, Moggie moved to Seattle when she was five years old, and is a graduate of Satellite High School in Burien.

Married with three daughters and three grandkids, Moggie spends her spare time camping, riding quads, and enjoying time with her family.

Moggie’s Advice for other operators:
“Make eye contact with each passenger and greet them with respect. It could make a difference in their day.”

South Base | June 2021: Carol Wallace
Carol was hired as a part-time operator in 1999 and went full-time in 2001. She has earned a 10-year Safe Driver Award and four commendations.

The youngest of three siblings, Carol was born and raised in Las Vegas, where she attended school and later worked for the school district as a printer for 10 years. She lived in Las Vegas for 27 years before moving to the Seattle area. She says that when she moved to Seattle, she needed a job and Metro was hiring.

In her spare time, Carol enjoys hiking, exploring new places, and beachcombing.