By Will Reisman, @Willreisman

2014 Operator of the Year Harish Reddy.
2014 Operator of the Year Harish Reddy.

For many passengers, riding on SamTrans is usually an opportunity to read the paper, listen to music or play a game on their phone while they travel seamlessly to their destination. It’s easy to zone out or get distracted without appreciating the driver who makes that trip possible.

Today, however, might be a good opportunity to take a quick break from your business and thank the bus operator for a job well done. It is, after all, national Transit Driver Appreciation Day.

Being a bus driver isn’t easy, particularly in the Bay Area. SamTrans operators must make sure that their buses stay on schedule and that their passengers are safe, all while dealing with unruly traffic conditions, steep terrains and winding, narrow streets.

SamTrans operators are particularly good at their jobs. During a year when systemwide ridership increased by 2.8 percent, SamTrans’ on-time performance actually improved by four percent, meaning they transported more people, more efficiently. They achieved that notable feat while continuing to practice extremely safe driving practices. Operators out of SamTrans’ North Base facility in South San Francisco travelled an average of 117,000 miles between preventable accidents last year. That’s essentially the equivalent of 34 cross-country trips without a collision.

So, if you’re on a SamTrans bus today, make sure to tip your cap, say thanks or give a nice smile to your operator today. You can even print out these personalized thank-you notes, or spread the word on Twitter by using the hashtag #tdad.

Usually, the only time an operator is noticed is if something goes wrong. National Transit Driver Appreciation Day is a chance to thank operators for all the time that things go right.

Check out other SamTrans operators and staff on Instagram by clicking here: #SamTransPortraits

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