TriMet bus driver Willie Jack was named 2013 Operator of the Year. "I'm not surprised. He certainly deserves it," That's what all the operators and other employees who know Willie Jack are saying, said TriMet spokesperson Angela Murphy. Assistant manager Jean Cook seconded that emotion. "I sit up a little straighter when he's around," Cook said. "He just radiates respect and a positive attitude." To qualify for the Operator of the Year drivers have to meet safety, customer service and attendance standards. Then drivers vote on who best deserves the honor. This is the second time Willie Jack has won the award. The first time was in 1985, when he had less than 10 years' seniority. "Back then, I was the first Black American to achieve that award," he recalls. "It was a big deal." Jack now has 36 years of service, and he's won just about every TriMet award. In fact. TriMet decided to create a new award in 2012 after Jack earned his 30th straight Superior Performance Award. To acknowledge this milestone, TriMet named Jack the transit agency's first Gold Master Operator.
Jack also has been inducted into the Million Miles of Safety Club, an achievement that takes at least 29 years of safe driving. That's the equivalent of driving two trips to the moon and back.
Talking about the changes he's seen over his 36 years, Jack says the light rail bridge stands out. "I see it from my 17," he says. "It's really something."
Jack's daughter Jenelle has also become a TriMet driver. His advice to her and other new operators?
"Let it roll off you. You will hear things, and you need to let them all roll off you.
"Stay focused and treat the customer like you want to be treated."