Palm Tran welcomes new bus operator graduates and honors 20-year employee

Oct. 30, 2020
Palm Tran celebrated a new class of 10 bus operator graduates in a socially-distanced ceremony and announced J. LaPrice Williams had earned a state award by the Florida Public Transit Association.

Palm Tran’s newest class of 10 bus operator graduates celebrated in a socially-distanced ceremony held on Oct. 26, 2020. While the graduates wore masks and socially distanced, the atmosphere remained festive and commemorative. Held at the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners Chambers, the event featured keynote speaker Palm Beach County Engineer David Ricks. Also in attendance were County Administrator Verdenia C. Baker; Assistant County Administrator Todd J. Bonlarron; Assistant County Administrator Dorritt Miller; Assistant County Administrator Patrick Rutter; Palm Tran Executive Director Clinton B. Forbes; and Interim Director of Operations Chad Hockman.  

Throughout the graduation ceremony, safety remained a top priority. Forbes noted the importance of Palm Tran employees during these unprecedented times.

“Palm Tran is proud to operate as an essential service and you are essential for our success,” Forbes said.

Becoming a bus operator graduate is not an easy feat. Each operator must complete eight weeks of extensive training to prepare them for the task. Candidates must pass examinations in customer service training, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sensitivity and a variety of other safety programs. Candidates also need to complete behind-the-wheel training that coincides with receiving their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).

Ricks delivered his keynote speech noting his experience overseeing maintenance of the roads Palm Tran relies on.

“Thank you for your commitment to helping our citizens and visitors get to where they need to go,” he said.

Bus Operator Shalona Bennette expressed excitement and confidence in her new role, highlighting Palm Tran’s thorough training process.

“Being patient is key to successful operations,” she said. “I didn’t expect the training to be as extensive as it was, but I think it was necessary in order to cultivate an environment of safety.

In addition to the graduation, Forbes announced Bus Operator J. LaPrice Williams as the recipient of the Bus Operator of the Year Award (3rd place) by the Florida Public Transit Association (FPTA).

After a career spanning more than 20 years, Williams felt honored. Williams has driven two million miles during his Palm Tran career without any accidents. He elaborated on Palm Tran’s evolution and how he continues to keep safety as one of his top priorities.

 “When I come to work, I like to come in with a good attitude, and I go home with the same attitude,” Williams said. “To do your job out there, you have to remain focused at all times.”

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Nov. 6, 2013