Three Metro drivers receive Operator of the Year award

The first-ever three-way tie for King County Metro Operator of the Year occurred this year as three bus drivers took home the title after a vote by their fellow drivers.

The three Metro employees are Ricardo Diaz, Penny Scott and Robert Leyse who were awarded during a surprise ceremony on Sept. 19 at Metro’s Atlantic-Central Base. Operators of the Months from seven fleet bases in the county vote on who will receive the annual award, and in nearly 40 years, there has never been a three-way tie, a press release from King County Metro said. Two of the drivers make Seattle routes and the third traverses the Eastside.

According to the press release, the Eastside driver is Leyse, who drives route 246 between Eastgate and Bellevue and Clyde Hill, as well as route 235 on Sundays between Kenmore, Kirkland and Bellevue. He was hired as a part-time driver in 2002 and was hired on full time the following year. Leyse has lived most of his life in the Bellevue area, attending Sammamish High School and Bellevue Community College. In his free time, he enjoys running, swimming and being outdoors.

Diaz drives Route 4 at night in downtown Seattle. He was hired on part time in 1991 and went full time in 1996, the release said. The Seattle local is a U.S. Army veteran and lives in the city with his wife, two daughters and four grandchildren. In his time off, he enjoys listening to music, gardening, home projects, camping and rooting for the Seahawks.

“Try to practice peaceful behaviors, it’ll take the edge off,” he said in the release. “Be forgiving of yourself and others. Seek the wisdom of others. It’s not all luck that helps you achieve longevity.”

Scott drives route 125 between downtown Seattle and West Seattle on top of route 128 from West Seattle to White Center in Tukwila. She was hired part time in 1995 and stepped up to full time in 2001. Another Seattlite, she graduated from Garfield High School in 1991 and is known around the fleet base as “The Five-Star General” because of the many safety pins she wears on her Metro jacket, the press release said. She has two grown sons and in her spare time enjoys traveling and spending time with her friends.

“The fact that we had a three-way tie for this year’s Operator of the Year honor shows just how many outstanding employees we have at King County Metro,” said county executive Dow Constantine in the press release.

King County Metro provides transportation for 122 million riders in the county annually.