On Wednesday, November 28, Salem-Keizer Transit honored 40-year veteran driver Larry Fast. Fellow employees shared cake and memories of times past.
Fast began his career as a transit operator for the City of Salem in 1972 in his mid-twenties. At the time, Fast was the youngest driver on a staff of all male operators. After five days of training, he was considered ready to drive on his own. There were only 17 buses in the fleet, and 25 drivers. Drivers wore a dark green blazer, black wool pants, a white shirt and a tie, even in the summer. Back then, there were no radios in the buses. If a driver had a problem, he would stop at the nearest house and ask to use the phone.
The purchase of eight buses in 1980 with power steering, air conditioning, a modern heating system and electric marquee changers was a highlight for Fast, making his job much more comfortable. There have been many more technological and service improvements over the years. There are 64 buses and more than 100 drivers on staff now. Drivers go through six weeks of standardized training.
When asked his favorite memories over the years, Fast said, "It's the passengers. I've developed some good relationships with passengers over the years. Yesterday I had a passenger who's been riding my bus since she was 16. Now she's 56!"
When asked how he managed to stay in the same job for 40 years, Fast said, "Start young and keep at it! And the people I work with are the best part of the job. I've made lifetime friends at Cherriots."
Fast and his wife Jan have been married for 39 years. They got married nine months after he started his career. Their two children grew up riding Dad's bus. Fast is now a grandfather of three. He has no immediate plans to retire.
"We are grateful to have such a caring, dedicated employee as Larry Fast. We look forward to his continued service," said Allan Pollock, Salem-Keizer Transit general manager.