Palm Tran Bus Drivers Loretta Fuegos and Murray Seabrook took home two top state-wide awards at the 2022 Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA) Conference: 1st Place Bus Operator of the Year to Fuegos and 2nd Place Bus Operator of the Year to Seabrook.
“I am thankful for Palm Tran for allowing me to do what I love to do,” Fuegos said. “I love my job. I love to drive and I love my passengers.”
Seabrook was excited too. “I’m totally surprised and it is a good feeling to win. We are both happy.”
Both Palm Tran bus operators were honored at the Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA) Award Banquet held at the Naples Grand Beach Resort, in Naples, FL. FPTA is a nonprofit association comprised of members from every major public transit agency in Florida. The annual conference includes workshops and award ceremonies.
Palm Tran nominated both Fuegos and Seabrook for Operator of the Year because of their commitment, exceptional driving records in which both have driven more than 2 million miles each, and their positive attitudes and professionalism.
“What a testament to our bus operators and to our agency to have the top bus operators in the state of Florida come from Palm Tran,” said Palm Tran Executive Director Clinton B. Forbes. “Both Loretta and Murray are truly dedicated to our core values and they are a great example to all drivers throughout the state. Being a bus operator is a great career and they are a testament to the profession and to Palm Tran.”
Fuegos has a perfect driving record in her 26 years with Palm Tran, having zero preventable accidents. She has driven Palm Tran’s Route 1, which is the most frequented route the runs US 1 from the southern part of Palm Beach County, Boca Raton, to the northern end in Palm Beach Gardens, for most of her career. She does more than drive, she makes the experience more enjoyable for everyone, starting with greeting each passenger as soon as they board the bus. Throughout the years, she has gotten to know her riders.
“I’ve seen kids grow up,” said Fuegos, who began her career when her kids were little. Now 28 and 34, her children have blessed her with seven grandchildren. “I’ve seen little kids get on the bus with their mothers and now they take the bus as an adult. One rider, Annie, has been riding since she was in a stroller and now she is 22. Her and her mom still take the bus.”
Seabrook has been with Palm Tran for 25 years. Known for his pleasant and calm demeanor and his sense of humor, he said the years have gone by fast because it is a job he truly enjoys. A dad to two daughters, one followed in his footsteps and she has been a Palm Tran bus operator for 15 years.
“It is a great place to work with a lot of opportunities for advancement,” he said, adding how it is key to understand people because you never know what someone is going through. He said patience is important to help you work with passengers. His riders are his number one priority and he always aims to be helpful and efficient. On the award, he said it was a great experience. “It’s a good feeling to receive recognition, I appreciate it.”
Along with driving, Fuegos also trains new drivers. In addition to teaching rules and regulations, knowing how to locate important documents, signing up for overtime and keeping up on medical checks, she shares her secret to success. Be kind.
“I’m respectful to my passenger and I treat everyone with respect,” she said.
Known for her contagious smile, she said when she sees passengers on her days off, they usually do not recognize her out of uniform. “I smile and they say, ‘hi, you are the bus driver!’”
For anyone considering becoming a bus operator, she says go for it. Some of the perks include great benefits, not being “cooped up in an office” and the opportunity to meet people every day. “It’s a great job and we have hours to fit anything that is going on in your life.”