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Rider's Almanac Blog

Awarding Accomplishment Know Your Operator

Know Your Operator: JoAnn Peterson

Posted by John Komarek | Monday, April 25, 2022 2:02:00 PM

A simple internet search began JoAnn Peterson’s career at Metro Transit.

“I searched for ‘companies with best benefits,’ and Metro Transit was one of the top companies,” Peterson said. “I found out it has stellar benefits.”

After eight years working in education abroad, Peterson decided teaching stateside wasn’t for her and needed a new career path. So, with a master’s in education in hand, she applied to become a bus operator in 2018.

“It was the most out my comfort zone I’ve been in 20 years,” she said. “I went from driving a two-door car to a 60-foot bus.”

Previously, Peterson served as a principal and in other leadership positions in education. Starting off in a new industry, though, can be tough.

“There’s no GPS – you have to know your routes inside and out,” Peterson said. “And some places I’ve never been to or haven’t seen in 15 years.”

She credits her assistant transportation manager for supporting and helping her in those early days. Today, she enjoys her career and is giving back as a mentor ready to help the newest group of operators at transit.

“This job is never boring and you can help make a difference,” she said.

And as she drives into her fourth year at transit, she continues her intellectual pursuits by completing her dissertation about language acquisition. “At some point you can call me ‘Doctor Driver,’” she joked.

Operator at a Glance

  • Hired: 2018
  • Routes: 3,4,5
  • Garage: Heywood
  • Family: Husband and two rescue cats
  • Lives: Richfield
  • Places she’s taught: China, Vietnam, and Middle East

Operator JoAnn Peterson and Transit Supervisor Thomas Hosley were jointly recognized for their response to a recent incident by the Metropolitan Council in April. An unruly customer boarded Peterson's bus and Hosley was among those who responded. Hosley, a former operator, drove Peterson back to the garage and stayed with her for an hour to help her process what had happened. "His ability to empathize, listen, and to be so kind is a skill that should be held up for example," Peterson said later. 

Also recognized by the Met Council were Alec Johnson, who has coordinated the bus operator apprentice program for the past six years, and South Operator Rodney Smith, who achieved 42 years of safe driving in March. Smith is just the second operator known to reach this milestone at Metro Transit.

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