Did you know your bus driver might be a former soccer or basketball pro? Or have their pilot’s license? Your driver might have personally rescued 30 cats, or raise and shows bloodhounds. And every one of them love driving and giving back to their community.
They are as unique as the people they provide transportation to every day.
Meet your Operators of the Month for July and August 2022.
We love to hear from our riders about their operators! Please leave your comments about our “rolling ambassadors.”
(Information and photos provided by the operators)
Atlantic Base | July 2022: Kumlachew Haile
Kumlachew Haile has earned multiple Safe Driver Awards and has received 14 commendations. Kumlachew became an operator so he could have a positive effect on the community while making a good living.
Born in Ethiopia, Kumlachew lived in a lived in a refugee camp in Kenya and played professional soccer in Ethiopia before coming to the United States.
Kumlachew is married to a former operator, and they have three adult children and four grandchildren. In his free time, he likes carpentry, doing home projects, and traveling.
Kumlachew’s advice to other operators: “Be patient with people. Look them in the eye when addressing them. Be kind and respectful of all people.”
Passenger praise: “This driver did an amazing job with a packed bus and terrible traffic. Please let him know how much all his riders appreciate him.”
Atlantic Base | August 2022: Singh Harwinder
Singh Harwinder joined Metro as a part-time operator in 2017 and went full-time in 2018. He has earned several Safe Driver Awards and has received four commendations.
Harwinder became an operator to have a positive effect on the community and have better opportunities. In his free time, he enjoys reading books and spending time with his family.
Singh’s advice to other operators: “Be kind, helpful, and respectful.”
Passenger praise: “Very helpful driver. I was lost in downtown trying to get to Kent, but he guided me to the right stop. He is such a nice guy.”
Bellevue Base | July 2022: Marius Frazier
Joining Metro in 2006 to explore a new challenge in his life, Marius Frazier has earned Safe Driver Awards and one commendation.
In his free time, Marius likes reading and learning new skills.
Marius’ advice to other operators: “Life is a journey. Acknowledge everyone and treat everyone with dignity.”
Passenger praise: “Bus driver this morning waited for me to approach and get on the bus. I’m recovering from a knee injury, so can’t run, but instead walked/limped quickly to the bus. Thank you!”
Bellevue Base | August 2022 Buu Lam
No information was provided by the operator.
Passenger praise: “This operator is always kind, professional, and helpful with every passenger that he comes into contact with.”
Born in India, Manjit came to the United States in 2011. Manjit attended Dayan and Anglo Vedic (DAV) school and DAV College.
In his free time, Manjit likes to spend time with his wife and kids. He also likes to play a variety of outdoor games.
Manjit’s advice to other operators: “Be polite to everyone, no matter what the situation is.”
Passenger praise: “Thank you to the bus driver who helped a passenger using an electric wheelchair exit the bus!”
Central Base | August 2022: Dale Daniels
Dale Daniels became an operator to serve his community. He has earned several Safe Driver Awards and has received 12 commendations.
Dale has eight children. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family and playing basketball and golf.
Dale’s advice to other operators: “Be patient, take a deep breath and count to five.”
Passenger praise: “I had a great trip and fantastic conversation with our Operator Dale. He is a great driver, attentive and was helpful to all customers who boarded and deboarded his bus. He was also cheerful and nice.”
Born in Teaneck, New York, David grew up in the Chicago suburbs, and moved to the Seattle area in 1980. He attended WTI and received a Graphics Certificate.
When not behind the wheel, David enjoys spending time with his three bloodhounds as well as raising and showing bloodhounds.
David’s advice to other operators: “Naps are your friend.”
Passenger praise: “The regular bus driver on this route drives and acts like a seasoned professional driver. Regularly drives his bus in a manner that is in an exceedingly exceptional manner that gets us all to our destination on time and without issue”
Born in Seattle. Mario attended Highline High School where he played basketball and ran track. He has four brothers & sisters and grew up mostly in South King County.
In his free time, Mario enjoys music and basketball.
Mario’s advice to other operators: “Be patient, even when it is hard to be”
North Base |July 2022: Jason Williams
Jason Williams has been a part-time operator with Metro since 2002. He has earned a several Safe Driver Awards and six commendations.
Before joining Metro, David worked as a wildlife rehabilitator, commercial driver, made several short films, and was a member of a traveling circus as acrobat/technical director/rigger.
In his free time, he enjoys birdwatching, hiking, book collecting, making art, and traveling (he has been to 20 countries so far).
Jason’s advice to other operators: “Don’t take anything personally, try to be patient and kind. Everyone, even when down and out, is doing the best they can.”
Passenger praise: “This driver works very hard to get us safe and sound and on time to where we need to go every day.”
North Base | August 2022: David Wong
David Wong joined Metro as a part-time operator in 2012 and went full-time in 2015. He has earned multiple Safe Driver Awards and has received two commendations.
Married with two daughters, David spends his free time playing soccer.
David’s advice to other operators: “Be kind and respectful to others because you never know who or what that person could mean to you later in life.”
Ryerson Base | July 2022: Waleligne Afele
Waleligne Afele joined Metro in 2006 because he loves meeting new people every day. He has earned multiple Safe Driver Awards and six commendations.
Born in the Gonder region of Ethiopia, Waleligne grew up in the capital city of Addis Ababa. After graduating Menelik Secondary School, he moved to Los Angeles for two years and then moved to Seattle in 1998.
In his free time, Waleligne enjoys watching football games and listening to traditional Ethiopian music.
Waleligne’s advice to other operators: “There is no shame in caring for someone. There is no shame in liking someone. Be passionate to help others.”
Passenger praise: “I took a bus to Queen Anne today and I was so impressed by the politeness of the driver. He greeted each and every one with a cheerful attitude and thanked each person after paying the fare.”
Ryerson Base | August 2022: Dorel Standolariu
Dorel Standolariu has earned several Safe Driver Awards and four commendations.
Dorel is married and in his free time he enjoys watching movies and going out to eat. Since the fall of communism, Dorel enjoys visiting Romania, where he has a large vehicle collection including six cars and 22 motorcycles.
Dorel’s advice to other operators: “Stay Cool. Don’t get upset. Nothing is personal.”
Passenger praise: “I’d like to give a shout out to bus driver on route 131 in bus 8037. He was just finishing the route at the light to turn left into Burien TC when a driver directly across from him ran through his red light and would have t-boned us if our driver didn’t have fast reflexes and great safety skills. Thank you!”
South Base | July 2022: Shirley Hetterscheid
Shirley Hetterscheid has earned a number of Safe Driver Awards and two customer commendations.
Shirley became an operator because her entire adult life she has been in the travel/transportation industry. She enjoys large vehicles and has a pilot’s license. She also enjoys helping her community.
Shirley has one daughter and in her free time enjoys downhill skiing, travel, camping, reading, watching movies, and fishing.
Shirley’s advice to other operators: “Back your seat up a notch if your braking is jerky.”
Passenger praise: “The driver made sure she checked up on every passenger in need of assistance it was a nice way to start out the day.”
South Base | August 2022: Shannon Wright
Shannon Wright joined King County Metro as a part-time operator in 2008 and went full-time in 2010. She has earned multiple Safe Driver Awards and has received three customer commendations.
Shannon became a transit operator because she has always loved to drive, and loves helping people. She also has a big heart for animals: She’s personally rescued over 30 cats.
Shannon has one daughter and three grandsons.
Shannon’s advice to other operators: “Think safety first for your passengers and fellow drivers”
Passenger praise: “My operator pulled out and braked slowly, easing in and out of bus stops, without any jarring stops or fast motions that would cause a passenger to have to hold on. It was a pleasure to ride with her.”
Every month, operators from King County Metro’s seven transit bases select an Operator of the Month. Each demonstrate safe driving skills, are courteous and helpful, and pay conscientious attention to attendance, appearance and discipline.
Please join us in congratulating them. Our Operators of the Month later vote on who among them will be Metro’s Operator of the Year!
Interested in becoming a transit operator? Visit “Start your Metro career” to explore well-paying positions with full benefits and a pension in transit operations, trades, rail operations, customer information and countless other fields.