When Al Ramey drove into his south Seattle bus base Friday morning (April 12), he drove into history books for Metro Transit – and possibly the country.
By safely completing yet another trip – carrying commuters to Seattle on Route 150 – Al marked 50 years of safe driving, and he might be the only driver ever to earn that distinction for a transit agency.
Cheers erupted from a crowd of Metro workers, his family and friends celebrating his accomplishment Friday morning. His destination sign was reprogrammed as he arrived to read “Al Ramey 50 Years Safe Driving.”
First to congratulate him was his wife of 54 years, Ruth, who handed him a new Metro jacket with a fresh patch marking the big day. Turns out safe driving patches only go as high as 45 years, so a custom patch had to be made to read 50-years safe driving.
He was quick to sport the coat and the patch – but wouldn’t hear of putting it on until he reached the milestone.
“It takes dedication and common sense to be a safe driver,” Al said. Lots of people knew the big day was coming, but he tried not to let the pressure get to him. “I just drove the way I always drive,” he said with a quick smile.
“The worst critic I have is the guy I look at in the mirror – and I can’t fool him,” Al said. “I’ve got through life on pride and I try to do a good job for a day’s pay for a day’s work.”
Bus driving has been a lifelong career for Al. He first was hired by Seattle Transit in 1952, later working for Suburban Transport Service, which became Metropolitan Transit. In 1992 he was named Metro’s Operator of the Year. In 2000, he received a 3 million miles safety award from the National Safety Council.
“I didn’t expect anything from the job and the job has given me a lot,” Al said.
The witty and talkative 81-year-old was momentarily speechless after receiving all the accolades Friday. County Executive Dow Constantine proclaimed April 12 Al Ramey Day. A certificate presented by Rhonda Berry, assistant deputy county executive. “I am just dumbfounded!” he said.
Metro will be applying for several national safety awards to honor Al’s accomplishment.