When they’re in the driver’s seat, they are the kind, courteous and helpful smile that greets you. Outside of work, they’re volunteering in the community, cycling and hiking on the trails, and sprinting on the soccer pitch and the basketball court.
They represent over a century of experience behind the wheel. The operators who drive your bus are as unique as you, and all of them love driving and giving back to their community.
Meet your Operators of the Month for January and February 2023.
We love to hear from our riders about their operators! Please leave your comments about our “rolling ambassadors.” 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.
(Information and photos provided by the operators)
Atlantic Base | January 2023: Assfaw Gebremeskel
Assfaw has earned multiple Safe Driver Awards and received six commendations.
He joined King County Metro because he is a people person and wants to serve his community.
Assfaw is married and has a stepdaughter. In his free time, he enjoys running, working out and helping his family.
Assfaw’s advice to other operators: “Please love your job. Always respect and serve your customers.”
Passenger praise: “He was very nice, courteous, engaging, to everyone on the bus. He was a complete pleasure to ride with.”
Atlantic Base | February 2023: Ermias Mulugeta
Ermias joined Metro as a part-time operator in 2010 and went full-time a year later. He has earned several Safe Driver Award and has received 46 commendations! He recently drove the ceremonial bus at a RapidRide H Line ribbon-cutting event to launch the service.
Born in Ethiopia, Ermias went to high school and college in the Seattle area. He worked for Safeway for 12 years, where he learned leadership skills and a strong work ethic.
After being very impressed with Metro during the 1991 winter storm, he set his sights on working for Metro! Married to his wife for 23 years, they have with two children in college. Ermias enjoys volunteering, working in the yard and hiking with his kids.
Ermias’ advice to other operators: “Just be the best you can be, treat people with respect and dignity. This is a great job.”
Passenger praise: “My driver is amazing at his job! He knows many riders, makes sure folks are seated before driving off, and helps give directions to folks on the bus unfamiliar with the area!”
Bellevue Base | January 2023: James Gayden Jr.
James has received several Safe Driver Awards.
He is a Metro legacy, joining after his father, an operator for 25 years, encouraged him to apply.
James attended Green River Community College, and in his free time enjoys cycling, exercising and craft brewing.
James’ advice to other operators: “Leave work at work!”
Bellevue Base | February 2023: Edward Anderton
Edward joined King County Metro as a part-time operator in 2015. He has earned multiple Safe Driver Awards and has received six commendations.
The salary and compensation operators receive attracted Edward to Metro.
Edward and his wife have two sons and he’s very excited to become a grandpa for the first time. He enjoys cycling, kayaking, hiking and spending time with his family.
Edward’s advice to other operators: “If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask other drivers. They are a valuable resource.”
Passenger praise: “Every day, he greets every single passenger with eye contact, a smile, and a ‘good morning!’ As people leave by the front door, he has something nice to say as each person departs. What he does seems simple, but what he gifts each of us is a positive and friendly start to our day.”
Central Base | January 2023: Amhed Ibrahim
Amhed started at Metro in 2011 as a part-time operator and has worked full-time since 2015.
Amhed moved from Somalia to the U.S. in 1995 and came to Seattle in 1999. Before joining Metro, Amhed was self-employed.
Happily married for the past 23 years, Amhed and his wife have five children ranging in age from 10 to 22. In his free time, he enjoys playing soccer every weekend and rooting for the Seahawks, Sounders and the old Supersonics.
Amhed’s advice to other operators: “Stay positive, treat everyone with respect, and do not judge others.”
Passenger praise: “My driver was extremely kind and professional.”
Central Base | February 2023: Kenneth Stephens
Kenneth joined King County Metro as a part-time operator in 2018 and went full-time in 2019. He has earned several Safe Driver Awards and has received 15 commendations.
Born in Virginia and raised in California’s Bay Area, Kenneth spent eight years in the Coast Guard and has a background in IT. After working in IT, Kenneth came to Metro.
Kenneth has been married to his wife for 43 years and has three adult children and two grandchildren. In his free time, Kenneth enjoys reading, listening to music and walking.
Kenneth’s advice to other operators: “A lot of people depend on us. Show up on time and treat people the way you would like to be treated. At the end of the day, leave the day at work. Try to enjoy the route, the day, and the people.”
Passenger praise: “Our driver was great. He impressed me with his calm confidence, kindness and cooperative attitude. Please make sure he knows he’s appreciated. Thank you.
East Base | January 2023: Terry Monroe
Terry joined Metro as a part-time operator in 2016 and went full-time in 2018. He has earned several Safe Driver Awards and has received six customer commendations. Terry joined Metro because he’s always enjoyed customer service, helping people out and being a friendly face. He’s been married for three years.
Terry’s advice to other operators: “Drive the bus safely and be courteous in your interactions with people and you’ll have a happy career.”
Passenger praise: “I have encountered this driver many times over the years. He’s great; always happy, funny, talkative, kind and safe.”
East Base | February 2023: Randolph Scott
“Randy” joined Metro as a part-time operator in 2012 and has been full-time since 2015. He has earned multiple Safe Driver Awards and twelve commendations.
Born in Tacoma, Randy has lived in many places, including the other corner of the country in Key West, Florida. He came back to Seattle in 2000 for his family. When his previous employer went out of business, he moved over to Metro for the flexibility and autonomy it offers.
Randy has five kids and four grandchildren, with a fifth on the way. A sports card collector, Randy enjoys live rock-and-roll shows, camping and road trips.
Randy’s advice to other operators: “Always be at your best. There could be someone on-board that has never seen you drive the bus before.”
Passenger praise: “Driver was nice, patient and very helpful; as well as being an incredible driver. Other passengers also noticed and commented how wonderful he was.”
North Base | January 2023: Tamu Pope
Tamu has earned several Safe Driver Awards and has received 17 customer commendations.
Born in Chicago, Tamu grew up with a very loving family. She attended Metropolitan Community College and Pima Medical Institute.
Tamu is a great supporter of shelters and organizations that help folks from all walks of life. Single with two sons, Tamu enjoys bowling, pool and playing cards.
Tamu’s advice to other operators: “Greet our passengers–a smile and a hello goes a long way. Treat others how you want to be treated and this behavior along with the three S’s will get us home to our families daily.”
Passenger praise: “My bus driver was wonderful! Her driving was super smooth and safe. She greeted everyone getting on the bus and said a friendly good evening to everyone getting off. It’s nice to see someone who seems to enjoy what they do and is obviously good at it.”
North Base | February 2023: Andrea McLaughlin
Andrea started at Metro as a part-time operator in 2000 and went full-time in 2002. She has earned numerous Safe Driver Award and has received three commendations.
Andrea grew up in the Green Lake Neighborhood. Currently she is finishing up her accounting degree.
Andrea and her husband have three children and she enjoys softball, hiking, cooking and yoga.
Andrea’s advice to other operators: “A friendly greeting and a free smile can make someone’s day a bit brighter.”
Passenger praise: “Our driver was great. She was patient and went out of her way to help people get home in a snowstorm when reroutes had just been announced. She is the model of an excellent driver in adverse conditions.”
Ryerson Base | January 2023: Sara Sadik
Sara started as a part-time operator in 2018 and went full-time in 2022. She has earned several Safe Driver Awards and has received four customer commendations.
Sara became a transit operator because she thinks it’s a great job and she enjoys meeting many new people.
Born in Ethiopia, Sara attended Seattle Central Community College and the University of Washington.
Married, Sara has twin girls. She enjoys spending time with her family, playing soccer and walks in the park.
Sara’s advice to other operators: “Let your smile change the world but never let the world change your smile.”
Passenger praise: “She is a very friendly and smooth driver. She’s very helpful to all passengers. She brightened my commute home. Thank you!”
Ryerson Base | February 2023: David Elleby
David has been a part-time operator since 2017. He has earned several Safe Driver Awards and has received four commendations.
Born in Louisville, Kentucky, David is married has a son and a daughter. He enjoys fishing and is a fan of drag racing.
David’s advice to other operators: “Be kind to passengers and treat people with respect.”
Passenger praise: “Our driver went out of his way to help passengers make timely transfers to their connecting bus. I really appreciated this driver’s kindness and great service.”
South Base | January 2023: Barun Ranabhat
Barun has been a part-time operator with Metro since 2012. He became a transit operator because of the independent work environment. Barun has received six commendations and has earned multiple Safe Driver Awards.
Born in Kathmandu, Nepal, Barun’s family immigrated to the United States to pursue a better future.
Married with two children, Barun enjoys spending his free time with his family, playing video games, traveling, target shooting, hiking and exploring new foods.
Barun’s advice to other operators: “Empathy, patience and being humble with consistency makes every day an easy day.”
Passenger praise: “Barun is an amazing driver, very professional, always helpful and kind. Thank you Barun for giving your best in your job, you are the best driver I ever had.”
South Base | February 2023: Chris Birkland
Chris started at Metro as a part-time operator in 2000 and went full-time in 2003. He has earned multiple Safe Driver Awards and has received 13 commendations.
Born and raised in Seattle, Chris is a graduate of Chief Sealth High School.
A friend encouraged Chris to apply at Metro and he was recognized by his fellow drivers as an Operator of The Month in February 2007. In his free time, Chris enjoys playing golf with friends and family.
Chris’ advice to other operators: “Be respectful to coworkers and riders”
Passenger praise: “The driver of the Route 22 bus is always friendly and a great driver!”
Every month, operators from King County Metro’s seven transit bases select an Operator of the Month. Each demonstrates safe driving skills, is courteous and helpful, and pays 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!