Ticket to Ride

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The average job tenure today is a little over four years. Typically, people have at least three careers during their working life. That makes it all the more incredible that Bruce Williams has driven a bus for 50 years. On Tuesday, Metro went all out to honor this exceptional employee.

We caught up with Williams at the North County Transit Center. A crowd of his coworkers was on hand to welcome him, including Metro’s Chief Operating Officer Charles Stewart. It was a surprise celebration, but the cat was out of the bag long before he arrived. His bus was decorated with special decals honoring his service. And Williams’ wife, another Metro driver who he met at work, was along for the ride.

Bruce Williams with his wife Felicia, also a Metro bus driver

While most of us are amazed that somebody can endure any job for half a century, it was no surprise to Williams. He said he knew on his first day that driving a bus would be his life’s work. Amazingly, not only did Williams stick with Metro, he didn’t even apply to move to a position on Metrolink, a less stressful job for which his seniority would surely have qualified him.

When Williams started driving in 1974, Richard Nixon was President. The Vietnam war was still being fought. Barbara Streisand, who was only 32 years old, had the number one hit single, and 16 year old Michael Jackson was still singing with The Jackson Five. The top television shows were All In The Family and Sanford and Son. According to Williams, people were riding the bus as a choice, on a system busy with middle class passengers choosing the bus over their car. Today, he says that his passengers don’t have a choice, as the cost of owning a car has risen beyond the means of many low income people. That makes the job of Metro, and bus drivers like himself, more important than ever.

At 73 years old, Williams qualified for retirement years ago. He said he’s going to stay for one more year. For those wanting to take his place, he has this advice: It’s a great career if you have a thick skin. You deal with people, and that’s not always easy. It takes a certain type of person, even more now then when he started. He has succeeded because he enjoys what he’s doing. According to Metro’s COO, driving is only a small part of the job. You are the face of Metro, and deal with their customers every moment of your work day. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, Metro is hiring.