Portales transit drivers go the extra mile

Editor’s note: The “Meet the” series profiles the people behind groups, organizations and businesses in the community.

By Lillian Bowe

PNT staff writer

lbowe@pntonline.com

Driving all over Portales can be stressful for Sally Good some days, but she always manages to keep a smile.

“I have this one regular passenger that every time she get on the bus, she has the biggest smile and she is so happy. Certain people make my job worth it,” said Good, who has worked for the Portales Area Transit for more than six years.

Good’s clients include the elderly and school children.

Because she sees a lot of the same faces, Good, who has a son, a daughter-in-law and three grandsons, gets to know her passengers.

Good even has two children she started driving to school when they were in the second and fourth grade. They are now an eighth-grader and a sophomore.

Good, one of the three drivers employed at PAT, said passengers are appreciative of the service she provides and she is blessed have great co-workers.

“I think the reward in this job is to know we are helping others in need,” Good said.

Julia Tapia, another driver who joined PAT a month before Good, said once a month drivers take turns taking senior citizens shopping and other places they need to go to.

“Everyone we pick up has a different story that I love to hear,” Tapia said.

Tapia, who formerly worked in home health care, said when she picks up some of her passengers they just have the biggest smile on their faces.

“They get attached to us and we get attached to them,” Tapia said.

Lucia Silva said she is the rookie driver at PAT, having worked there for five years.

Silva said when she drives she tries to make the trip fun for her passengers. She plays the ABC game with the children she drives, where everyone has to think of a word that starts with an A then they go to B. During Christmas they sing Christmas Carols to pass the time.

“It is so much more than driving, it is about having a person connection with your passengers,” Silva said.

Silva, mother of three, grandmother of nine and great grandmother of two, said she wakes up with a positive attitude about her job because she really enjoys her job.

“The seniors are really appreciative of us and many say they don’t know what they would do if Portales did not have our program,” Silva said.

Many students that Silva picks up from school take PAT because it is safer than walking home, and Silva said it is one of the reasons their service is really needed.

Dawn Kryder, director of the Portales senior center and area transit, said the drivers and others working at the area transit are the best she has worked in her 25 years working at the center.

“The level of commitment they show is amazing and it is a privilege to work with them,” Kryder said.

PAT averages between 1,500 and 3,000 trips per month, according to dispatcher and administrator Tina Nielsen.

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