James Turner is Metro’s Transit Operator of the Year!

We surprised James Turner this month with the highest honor Metro has: Transit Operator of the Year.

James Turner smiles as he is praised and honored with the Transit Operator of the Year award Aug. 17, 2017.

You can see the look on his face as he walked into a cheering room full of family, bus drivers and supporters on Aug. 17, 2017.

Here’s what riders have to say:

He always has a smile on his face. He is pleasant and nice to everyone without discriminating. There was one time where passengers were stuck on his bus for close to an hour and a half because of some accident, and he was so nice. He took it in stride and, in a situation where it could be really easy to get grumpy, he made everyone feel comfortable. He clearly enjoys what he does and he deserves to be recognized. Outstanding job!”

“I have known James for many years and wish to recommend him for ‘Bus Driver of the Year.’ Reason being his outstanding way he treats and respects all passengers, young or old. His personality never changes even though some passengers can be rude. He’s always nice to people. He’s very knowledgeable about bus routes and is very careful about letting people sit down before he takes off. I hardly ever come across drivers as nice as him anymore. I consider him very outstanding as a driver.”

After a rider had foot surgery and was not able to move very quickly, “the driver was very patient and extremely thoughtful. He displayed this throughout the rest of the trip towards other riders, especially toward elderly and disabled individuals.”


Here is the announcement, including dozens of compliments riders have sent Metro over the years. Congratulations James!

James Turner King County Metro Transit Operator of the Year

“Like all our Metro operators, James takes public service seriously. But he goes a little bit farther, creating a community space on his bus that is friendly, inclusive, and relaxing. He shares his dedication to helping people get around the region with his family – eight relatives including his sister, son and daughter drive for Metro. James says he loves what he does, and for 35 years, riders have loved that he does it.” – King County Executive Dow Constantine

“Throughout his 35-year career, we’ve heard time and again how James respects the needs of riders of all ages and backgrounds. He is a shining example of the best customer service that Metro provides and we’re proud to honor him as Metro’s Top Driver and our Transit Operator of the Year.” – Metro Transit General Manager Rob Gannon


Lead mechanic Derek Harris is Metro’s Vehicle Maintenance Employee of the Year

Through 23 years with Metro, lead mechanic Derek Harris has always put customer service first, whether he’s rebuilding engines to keep buses moving or searching with a flashlight to find a driver’s lost wedding ring.

Harris was named Thursday as Metro’s Vehicle Maintenance Employee of the Year. As he accepted the award, coworkers reiterated his focus on customers, and his patience, leadership and always challenging others to find the best solution.


“What I enjoy most about Metro is working with all different types of people and coordinating with all the different departments, and making sure we’re doing the right thing for taxpayers,” Harris said shortly after a ceremony with family and dozens of coworkers at Metro’s Component Supply Center in Tukwila. The “CSC” is where major components like engines, transmissions, and battery systems are rebuilt, often which helps the county save costs by extending the life of older buses.

“I know how valuable it is for people for that bus to show up. I know the value of the parts we supply here at the CSC and how important it is to get a good quality product out there to keep the buses moving, and that’s what I take a lot of pride in.”

Harris received accolades from Metro’s General Manager Rob Gannon, Deputy King County Executive Fred Jarrett, and DOT Director Harold Taniguchi. Metro customers will see Harris’ photo on a commemorative placard inside buses for the following year.

“Derek takes on a sense of personal ownership in all of the work he does for Metro,” Gannon said. “He takes pride in seeing that things are done right.”


Metro General Manager Rob Gannon presents Harris with an honorary placard that will be on display inside Metro buses.

Harris joined Metro in 1994 as a part-time mechanic, later securing a career service position as lead mechanic in 1998. He has served stints throughout Metro’s system, including Atlantic Base, Central Base, North Base, South Base, East Base, Bellevue Base and Ryerson Base.

When Harris moved from a previous assignment at Atlantic Base, former Superintendent Mike Eeds wrote in a thank-you letter: “A lead mechanic can make or break a base. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the time and effort you put into making Atlantic Base a success.”

0717VMeoy-DerekHarris045Harris’ wife and two daughters attended Thursday’s ceremony, along with about a dozen family members. In his off time, he’s active in his younger daughter’s school, and coaches girls’ fast-pitch softball and Little League baseball. He’s also an avid outdoors enthusiast and has a farm in Enumclaw.

Congratulations and thank you to Derek Harris for his commitment to providing Metro customers with safe, reliable service every day. Metro is honored to have Harris on our team!

KCDOT’s Hannah Debenedetto contributed to this story.