Continuing a family tradition by driving. Rolling FIVE perfect (“300”) bowling scores!! Former truck and cab drivers and a local DJ. They are operators with more than 150 years of experience driving for King County Metro.
Meet your Operators of the Month for July and August 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 | July 2021: Solomon Yitayew
Hired as a part-time operator in April 2010, Solomon went full-time in 2012. He has earned a seven-year Safe Driver Award and 11 commendations.
Born and raised in Ethiopia, Solomon moved to Seattle in 2006 and worked as a taxi driver for five years. His brother, a Metro operator, strongly encouraged him to apply as well. Solomon is thankful for his brother’s referral and glad that he joined Metro.
Atlantic Base | August 2021: Nikolay Romanyuk
Nick started as a part-time operator in September 2001 and went full-time in August 2003. He has earned an 18-year Safe Driver Award and three commendations.
Nick is from the Ukraine, where he went to college for agricultural machinery. He immigrated to the U.S. through the Diversity Visa program in 1995 with his wife and young son, settling in Auburn with his uncle’s family. Nick worked in the aerospace industry, but left to study computer programming, and then began driving for Metro.
When the dot-com bubble burst and his computer programming prospects dimmed, he chose to stay at Metro and go full-time because of the job flexibility and his lifelong fascination with driving large buses.
Happily married for 33 years, Nick enjoys reading, working out and hanging with friends and family.
Bellevue Base | July 2021: Daniel Krueger
Daniel was hired as a part-time operator in 2008 and went full-time in 2012. He has earned an 11-year Safe Driver Award and six commendations.
Born and raised in Tacoma, Daniel is following in the footsteps of an uncle who also drove public transit. Prior to beginning his career with Metro, Daniel drove a cab in Pierce County.
Daniel is an avid sports enthusiast and fisherman, using his free time to explore Washington’s beautiful lakes and rivers.
Daniel’s advice for other operators:
“Treat everyone with respect – customers and drivers the same.”
Bellevue Base | August 2021: Craig Jones
Hired as a part-time operator in 1985, Craig has been driving full-time since 1990. He has earned a 28-year Safe Driver Award and 13 commendations.
Craig became a transit operator because he enjoys driving and exploring different places.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Craig moved to Washington in 1984, where he settled and raised his family. He and his wife have three sons who are now in their twenties.
Craig enjoys hiking and time with his family—he’s also a fantastic bowler. On five different occasions Craig has scored a perfect 300!
Craig’s advice for other operators:
“Be kind and nice to others. Usually, it is returned, and your day is a lot easier.”
Central Base | July 2021: Paulis Petrovics
Paulis was hired as a part-time operator in April 2017 and went full-time in April 2018. He has earned a four-year Safe Driver Award and six commendations.
Paulis was born in Riga, Latvia, and moved to the Washington, D.C. area when he was 13. He came to Seattle to attend the University of Washington, where he earned an environmental science degree and met his partner.
From a young age, Paulis has been a public transit rider and is grateful for the improved mobility and quality of life that transit provides for so many people, himself included. This experience and a desire to give back to the community inspired him to work for Metro.
Paulis loves spending time outdoors, where his favorite activities include backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, and gardening. He also loves learning new languages and traveling the world. Next on his list is France.
Paulis’ advice for other operators:
“Show respect to the public and challenge yourself to practice the art of ‘being zen’ every day. Allow yourself to get plenty of rest. It will change how you go about your whole day for the better.”
Central Base | August 2021: Jagjeet Chahal
Jagjeet was hired as a part-time operator in May 2019 and went full-time in October 2019. He has earned a two-year Safe Driver Award and 11 commendations.
Born in the he Punjab region of India in the village of Kotla Chahal, Jagjeet’s father was a commandant officer in the military. His father was frequently away from home in the field, so Jagjeet was primarily raised by his mother. He went to Mission High school in Dhariwal, Punjab, and is a graduate of the SBHS Institute in Batala, Punjab.
Jagjeet always wanted to work for a government agency and driving a bus for Metro has allowed him to do so. Driving is his passion, so working for Metro is a pleasure.
Jagjeet, or Ustaad Ji as he is known to those close to him, is happily married with 2 children: An 11-year-old daughter and an eight-year-old son. When not working, Jagjeet enjoys watching action movies and playing racing games. He also likes to go into the mountains and face survival conditions.
Jagjeet’s advice for other operators:
“Driving is our job, so do it safely. Remember you are carrying living people. All of their lives are in your hands, so keep your eyes up and stay awake!”
East Base | July 2021: William Spoon
William was first hired as a part-time operator in January 2013. He has earned a seven-year Safe Driver Award and four commendations.
After driving trucks for over 35 years, William chose Metro for a part-time job with good benefits.
William has been married for 18 years and has two kids. He loves travel, cruising and cars.
William’s advice for other operators:
“Keep up the good work. Don’t let the bad passengers or traffic get you down and keep up the common courtesy.”
East Base | August 2021: Afshin Manshadi
Afshin was hired as a part-time operator in 2015 and went full-time in 2016. He has earned a six-year Safe Driver Award and three commendations.
Originally from Tehran, Iran, Afshin moved to the U.S in 2009 with his wife and son. They have since welcomed a second son into their family.
Afshin’s diverse vocational background includes certificates in auto mechanics and house wiring, as well as a degree in accounting. He became a transit operator because it combines his love of driving with his passion for public service. The benefits were an added bonus. Next up in his Metro career, Afshin hopes to become a supervisor.
In his spare time, Afshin enjoys camping, outdoor activities, cars, semitrucks, backyard work, and remodeling.
North Base |July 2021: Jeremy Boushelle
Hired as a part-time operator in 2013, Jeremy went full-time in 2015. He has earned a seven-year Safe Driver Award and four commendations
Jeremy was born in Michigan and attended the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he majored in English and Psychology. After college he worked as a mental health worker at a psychiatric hospital for ten years. Jeremy, who moved to Seattle in 2012, said the flexible schedule, pay and benefits attracted him to King County Metro.
Jeremy lives with his wife and their two dogs and two cats. He enjoys mountain biking, DIY home projects and traveling.
Mike’s advice for other operators (via Bart Simpson):
“It’s so simple to be wise… just think of something stupid to say and then don’t say it.”
North Base | August 2021: Samson Mulenga
Samson was hired as a part-time operator in 2017 and went full-time in 2018. He has earned a three-year Safe Driver Award and five commendations.
Samson was born and grew up in Lusaka, Zambia, where he attended Kabulonga Boys Secondary School and earned a degree in Business Management from Evelyn Hone College. He loves driving and the job of transit operator.
Samson lives with his girlfriend and two kids, and enjoys playing soccer, camping and taking road trips to cool places.
Ryerson Base | July 2021: Latonya Abernathy
Tonya was hired as a part-time operator in May 2018 and went full-time in 2019. She has earned a two-year Safe Driver Award and nine commendations.
Born in Tacoma and the oldest of five siblings, Tonya was encouraged by her sister to apply at Metro because of her good communication and people skills. Before Metro, Tonya was a security officer at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, where she gained a certificate in self-defense tactics.
Tonya loves to spend time with her family and friends which include her husband of 20 years, three adult children and seven grandchildren. When not working, Tonya stays busy: She roller skates, bowls, swims, runs 5Ks and travels.
Tonya’s advice for other operators:
“Never let negative energy steal your joy.”
Ryerson Base | August 2021: Kevin Sylvan
Kevin was hired as a part-time operator in 2016 and went full-time in 2019. He has earned a five-year Safe Driver Award and six commendations. He became a transit operator to seek growth opportunities within Metro and for the competitive pay and benefits.
Kevin was born in Shreveport, Louisiana and has a fiancée and a 15-year-old son. Kevin is also on the airwaves as a DJ on KUBE 104.9. He also produces music and likes to travel and play basketball.
Kevin’s advice for other operators:
“Be confident, be patient, be consistent and learn from your mistakes.”
South Base | July 2021: Andrea Jermann
Andrea was hired as a part-time operator in November 1999, briefly went full-time in 2005, and has returned to part time. She has earned a 15-year Safe Driver Award and 27 commendations.
Andrea became an operator because she had been a long-time rider and knew that she could work part-time for good pay and benefits. She also knew that Metro would support her service with the Army Reserves.
Andrea graduated from Roosevelt High School, where she is now a teacher. She enjoys spending time outdoors, including gardening, hiking and working on her home.
Andrea’s advice for other operators:
“A positive attitude can make a positive difference, and a smile and a warm hello can sometimes make all the difference.”
South Base | August 2021: Monique Lowe
Monique started as a part-time operator in 2005 and went full-time in 2006. She has earned a 15-year Safe Driver Award and 30 commendations.
A Seattle native, Monique started working for Metro as a second job to help pay the bills when her other employer decreased her pay. Initially she planned to work both jobs for five, or maybe 10 years, but when the opportunity came at 18 months to go full time, Monique took that opportunity and Metro has been the better for it.
Monique has been very active in the union and is always there to support her fellow Metro operators. She also takes care of our customers. Monique has been commended several times by her chiefs for helping customers, especially her ADA customers, which led to her receiving the Turner Award.
Monique has a son, and when not working, she enjoys crafting, shopping and hanging out with her friends.
Monique’s advice for other operators:
“Be open to change.”