Something everyone eagerly looks forward to right after Thanksgiving is our annual holiday bus wrap, which has signaled the start of the holiday season in the community since the 1950s. Once a year, we bend our own policy and allow a full holiday bus wrap to be done, which we then send out on its merry way along a different route each day, acting as a sort of giant, moving greeting card. Recent themes have included whimsical dancing snowmen, ice-skating penguins and reindeers playing instruments in the windows. Many families tell us they try to get a picture taken every year in front of the holiday bus, or at least try to catch a ride on it, which then becomes part of their own family tradition for the holidays.
The employees of the city of Santa Monica also start gearing up in late November for the annual FOOD FIGHT food drive, which for the past 10 years has become an increasingly fierce competition between city departments, lead by the Big Blue Bus, to see who can donate the most food. I’m happy to report that the Big Blue Bus team has come in first for most of the past decade, collecting, along with other departments, a total of more than 43,000 pounds of food last year alone. This represented the largest donation of food the service agency received from a single source.
December marks our safety awards presentation, which gives our employees an extra reason to be proud for all their hard work during the year. This special event, which recognizes driver and maintenance safety records, honors five outstanding employees with Vision Awards for innovation, leadership, community service, integrity and continuous improvement.
The Vision Awards are an important way to recognize individuals who really live the values and behaviors of the Big Blue Bus. The highlight of the event is the famous maintenance department BBQ, which gives everyone a chance to relax and catch up with co-workers. Judging by the pictures taken every year, the camaraderie shared at this event by employees is enough to put a happy holiday smile on just about anyone’s face, including the Grinch’s!
Duluth Transit Authority
The holiday season starts early at the Duluth Transit Authority, with the first major employee event being the free community-wide Thanksgiving Day Dinner provided by the College of
St. Scholastica to more than 2,500 area residents. Transportation to the event from senior centers and shelters is organized and provided by DTA employees who volunteer their time.
Following closely on the Thanksgiving Day volunteer services, the DTA participates in the annual “Christmas City of the North” parade. In cooperation with the Greater Downtown Council throughout the holiday season, the DTA provides a free downtown trolley shuttle service called the “George Baily Express” as a shopping promotion. The major employee holiday event at the DTA is the “Toys for Tots” fundraiser. The fundraiser is an element of the DTA Driver’s and Mechanics Annual Holiday Party organized and hosted by union and management employees. Through donations and raffles at this event, DTA employees donate toys and cash to the local charities for distribution to the children of needy families.
Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority
What says holiday cheer more than a decorated bus or a Holly Jolly trolley? Cincinnati Metro uses holiday opportunities to promote transit’s value to the community by offering a downtown circulator trolley, participating in charitable events and allowing bus drivers to decorate buses to delight their customers.
The Trolley Tradition
Metro’s Holly Jolly Downtown Trolley showcases the seasonal magic of Cincinnati through the windows of an old-style trolley. The festive weekend circulator has provided free rides, courtesy of downtown business sponsors, for several years.
The trolley route connects many of Cincinnati’s holiday events and attractions including ice skating at Fountain Square, theaters, museums, the historic Duke Energy train display, and shopping on Fourth and Fifth streets — all lit up for the holidays. For many, riding on the Holly Jolly Downtown Trolley has become a downtown holiday tradition in its own right.
Decking the Halls … on a Bus
A carol-rapping dog, a Christmas tree on the farebox, battery-operated lights, candy canes, holiday decals on windows, reindeer ornaments — these are what makes Metro bus operator Orlando King’s bus special during the holidays.