A tailor. A comic book collector. One who enjoys old cars and old tractors. Another who still spends time around planes. Joining Metro after moving west until he “ran out of room” and landed in Seattle. And a New York Knicks fan who travels to see his favorite basketball team—since the NBA no longer comes to Seattle—for now!
They are part of a group of drivers with over two centuries of experience behind the wheel!
Meet your Operators of the Month for January and February 2022.
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 | January 2022: Deborah Mays
Hired as a part-time operator in 2017, Debbie went full-time a year later. She has earned a two-year Safe Driver Award and six commendations.
Born and raised in King County, Debbie attended Highline Community College and Renton Technical College for administrative office management. A tailor by trade, a friend referred Debbie to Metro because she loves driving and enjoys customer service.
Debbie has a son, a daughter, a son-in-law, and two grandsons.
Being a tailor, naturally, one of Debbie’s hobbies is sewing, but she also enjoys camping, fishing, gardening, woodworking, decoration and design, cooking, and spending as much time as possible with family and friends.
Debbie’s advice to other operators:
“Don’t take issues on the coach personally. You can meet the best person on the worst day of their life. And we all have those days!”
“My bus driver was the best. She cares about the folks who ride her bus and the community she’s driving in.”
Atlantic Base | February 2022: Ernie Lawton
Ernie was hired as a part-time operator in 2008 and went full-time in 2010. He has earned an 11-year Safe Driver Award and 32 commendations.
Born in Dallas and raised in Seattle, Ernie is a graduate of Nathan Hale High School. Good friends encouraged him to apply to work as an operator, and he is glad he did.
Ernie regularly meditates, collects comic books, loves the movies, and is a self-proclaimed Buick man. Ernie has a large family that includes seven kids.
Ernie’s advice to other operators: “To my Metro family: always stand firm on what’s right. Be quick to make someone smile and remember it’s a privilege to serve the public. Much love to you all.”
Passenger praise: “He took a moment to provide care and kindness to his passengers.”
Bellevue Base | January 2022: John Eaton
John was hired as a part-time operator in 2003 and went full-time in 2006. He has earned a 15-year Safe Driver Award and seven commendations.
John worked at Puget Sound Energy until his position was outsourced. He then found work as a Metro operator. John views operating a Metro coach as a very good union job, which fulfills his joy of driving and love of people.
John and his wife have five daughters, three sons, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
For over 20 years, John was involved in theater in Fall City and Snoqualmie. His other interests include photography, old cars, old tractors, military trucks, travel, and history.
John’s advice to other operators: “Each passenger should be treated as you would treat your best friend.”
Passenger praise: “John is a great driver, and he remembers riders, greets us, helps out people who are lost, and makes the Metro ride terrific.”
Bellevue Base | February 2022: Michael Simon
Michael was hired as a part-time operator in 1995 and has been full-time since 1997. He has earned a 26-year Safe Driver Award and three commendations.
Prior to Metro, Michael spent 20 years in aviation – which still captures his interests.
Married with two children, when Michael’s not working, he spends his free time, cooking, biking, and engaged in his passion for airplanes and motorcycles.
Michael’s advice to other operators: “You treat everyone just like you would want your wife to be treated.”
Passenger praise: “He thanks everyone as they pay and gives a friendly wave to everyone as they exit.”
Central Base | January 2022: Brian Schoof
Brian has worked for Metro as a part-time operator since 1990. He has earned a 27-year Safe Driver Award and eight commendations.
Born in Detroit, Brian earned a bachelor’s degree in general studies and fine arts from the University of Michigan, where he drove a shuttle bus. Leaving Detroit, Brian kept moving west until he “ran out of room” and landed in Seattle.
Working part time provided Brian with health insurance while working as a photographer and illustrator. He continues to work as a commercial illustrator.
Brian’s hobbies include bicycling, tennis, and walking.
Brian’s advice to other operators: “There are a lot of nice people out there, thank them when they pay and notice how they react. It helps the day go by more pleasantly. Physical activity like bicycling helps to ease the pressure of the job even when it is rainy outside.”
Passenger praise: “His actions kept the passengers safe.”
Central Base | February 2022: Christian Ramos
Chris was hired as a part-time operator in 2010 and went full-time in 2013. He has earned a 10-year Safe Driver Award and four commendations.
Chris was born in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, and moved to Seattle with his family when he was five.
A graduate of West Seattle High School, Chris spent over 13 as a computer technician, until the 2009 recession. A job search ended with him trading hard drives and CPUs to managing traffic and serving the public, and Chris has enjoyed the transition. He says driving for Metro every day is truly an adventure.
Chris has been married for over 25 years and has two children. In his free time, he likes to spend time with his family, where they enjoy outdoor activities that include camping, fishing, and boating.
Chris’ advice to other operators: “Keep calm and drive safely.”
Passenger praise: “Chris is an excellent driver. He’s very smooth around corners, comes to complete stops, and very courteous.”
Chris grew up in Renton and received a welding certificate from Green River Community College. Prior to Metro, Chris was in the Navy, worked in sheet metal shops and warehouses, and built and remodeled houses.
Chris and his wife have two daughters. In his spare time, he enjoys camping, fishing, gardening, and raising animal.
Chris’ advice to other operators: “Don’t sweat the fares, be pleasant to everyone, and drive one block at a time.”
Passenger praise: “My driver was firm and professional.”
T-Vo was born in Saigon, Vietnam, and attended high school in San Diego.
T-Vo loves customer service, so becoming a transit operator was a perfect fit.
Passenger praise: “He was amazing. It was rainy, and he was cut off several times, and he deftly handled each situation.”
North Base |January 2022: Benyam Petros
Benyam started as a part-time operator in 2012 and has been full-time since 2018. He has earned four commendations.
Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Benyam came to the U.S. in 1992, where he continued his education at North Seattle Community College.
Benyam came from a happy family and is happily married with a 12-year-old son who he adores. He likes hiking, swimming, and reading books.
Benyam’s advice to other operators: “Like your responsibility, be patient, and at the end of the day think about what is most important to you: your family.”
Passenger praise: “His riders truly appreciate the extra effort he puts in for us.”
North Base | February 2022: Charles Mercado
Hired as a part-time operator in 2017, Charles has been a full-time operator since 2017. He has earned a four-year Safe Driver Award and five commendations.
Charles became a transit operator because he loves driving and serving the public.
Charles and his wife have two children. He enjoys participating in all things basketball. Charles’s favorite team is the New York Knicks and he is willing to travel vast distances to see them play.
Charles’ advice to other operators: “Patience and a positive attitude go a long way in this business.”
Passenger praise: “He is highly skilled and also has a warm, welcoming presence.”
Ryerson Base | January 2022: Sharna Hudson
Sharna was hired as a part-time operator in 2013 and went full-time in 2015. She has earned a seven-year Safe Driver Award and four commendations.
Growing up in a military family, Sharna has lived in many states. She graduated from Renton High School and has an Associate Degree in Nursing. Sharna and her partner have three children, one of whom is a pre-med student at the University of Washington!
Sharna enjoys sewing, shooting, reading, fishing, camping, or anything outdoors, and she loves to travel.
Sharna’s advice to other operators: “Take one day at a time.”
Passenger praise: “She drove safely and impeccably. She was conscientious at a consistent speed.”
Ryerson Base | February 2022: Cherry Molett
Cherry was hired as a part-time operator in 2002 and went full-time in 2006. She has earned a 16-year Safe Driver Award and two commendations.
Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Cherry is a graduate of Seattle’s Lincoln High School.
Cherry has two children and six grandchildren. She loves to cook and enjoys art and music.
Cherry’s advice to other operators: “Be safe, always be kind and respectful to others, and you will have a good day.”
Passenger praise: “She is very patient with riders and is willing to give helpful information.”
South Base | January 2022: James Londo
James was hired as a part-time operator in 2006 and has been full-time since 2009. He has earned a 14-year Safe Driver Award and three commendations.
James grew up riding the bus so when he started his working career as a cook and waiter, he noticed how bus drivers were always friendly and enjoyed their job.
James’ hobbies and interests include day trading, motorcycles, tattoos, and fishing.
James’ advice to other operators: “The moment you accept the fact that some people just don’t want to pay, the job becomes exponentially easier.”
Passenger praise: “Even if the bus is late, the driver is always friendly.”
South Base | February 2022: Betty Park
Betty was hired as a part-time operator in 2007 and went full-time in 2009. She has earned a 10-year Safe Driver Award and four commendations.
Betty was born in Vancouver, B.C., and her family moved to Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood when she was five.
Betty had a number of careers prior to joining Metro. She was a T-shirt graphic designer, a Starbucks barista, a truck driver, and a flight attendant. Her neighbor, a Metro operator, recommended applying.
After being hired, Betty appreciated the camaraderie in the Metro family. That, along with the good pay and benefits, has kept her in the same career over 14 years later!
Betty’s advice to other operators: “Let’s work with each other instead of against each other.”
Passenger praise: “She masterfully navigated the traffic and showed her true skill.”