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Rider's Almanac Blog

Bus Know Your Operator Safety

Top operators driven to succeed

| Thursday, June 26, 2014 4:00:00 AM

Metro Transit bus operator David Nagel was recognized as the organization's first 30-Year Elite Operator at the 2014 Ovations Awards Ceremony.Few things take David Micklin by surprise.          

His ability to sense things before they occur has led to a flawless driving record for the 27-year bus operator, who works at Metro Transit’s Martin J. Ruter Garage and is currently driving Route 852.

“I always see stuff before it happens,” Micklin said. “I guess I’ve always been that way. I take it very seriously.”

Micklin was among more than 70 bus and light-rail operators who were recognized for exceptional performance at this year's Ovations Awards Ceremony and one of just two to be honored for 25 consecutive years of safe driving. The annual event recognizes top operators for safe driving, attendance and excellence in customer service.

For Micklin, the safe driving recognition was especially meaningful because it meant he had something to boast about with his father, who spent 34 year as a Metro Transit bus operator.

“He’s always bragging about how good he was,” the Coon Rapids resident said. “I had to one-up him.”

Operators Jerry Olson and David Nagel also earned bragging rights at the annual awards ceremony. Olson became the first Metro Transit Operator to achieve 41 consecutive years of safe driving and Nagel became Metro Transit’s first-ever 30-Year Elite Operator.

Olson, who joined Metro Transit in 1972, credited his streak to following the Safety Keys, a set of safe driving principals that teach operators to be constantly aware of their surroundings. Having a level head doesn't hurt either, he said.

“Probably the biggest key is just to have patience,” said Olson, an on-call operator who drives several routes out of South Garage.

Attitude is also the key to success for Nagel, who works at Heywood Garage and is a driver on Route 675. Nagel’s 30-Year Elite Operator status comes from receiving 30 Outstanding Operator Awards, which are given for safe driving, attendance and customer service.

“It’s about not letting things bother you,” said Nagel, who joined Metro Transit in 1979. “You just have to take it cool.”

Operators who are working toward Olson and Nagel’s records said they admired their decades of service and hoped to continue their own successes as they continued in their careers. The awards celebrated 24 5-Year Master Operators, 17 10-Year Prestige Operators, nine 15-Year Superior Operators and four 20-Year Elite Operators.

“It just make you want to keep the streak, to try to go another year,” said Olynn Jones, a seven-year safe operator who was a part of the 5-Year Master Operator class.

The awards are just a part of the motivation, though. Dan O’Driscoll, a 5-Year Master Operator, said his drive comes from being part of an organization that is helping the community grow and thrive.

“You always want to keep moving forward,” O’Driscoll said. “But really it’s the nature of the work that motivates me to continue to want to do well.”

    > News release: Top operators honored for safe driving, exceptional service

    > Using ‘Keys’ to put safety first

    > Know Your Operator

    > Metro Transit: Great People

Photo: Operator David Nagel at the Ovations Award Ceremony on Wednesday, June 25. Nagel is Metro Transit's first 30-Year Elite Operator.