Pictured: Grand Master drivers receive a jacket to acknowledge their accomplishment.
Day in and day out for 10 years, Ray Wallace has been doing it the right way at the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority.
No avoidable accidents. No customer complaints. Never missing an assignment.
A 20-year veteran bus operator, Wallace is among the KCATA’s elite - a Grand Master driver, someone who performs at an exceptional level every day regardless of weather, traffic or mood.
Wallace recently received the Grand Master recognition, something that gave him a sense of achievement after 20 years at the KCATA.
“I’ve accomplished something,” Wallace said. “The years have paid off. I didn’t want to work all these years and not accomplish anything.”
Wallace is not alone. He’s representative of corps of top-flight drivers who offer their riders a safe trip, quality customer service and rarely, if ever, miss a day of work.
Wallace was among 88 bus operators who the KCATA recognized as distinguished driver for 2014-15. Of the 451 eligible drivers, only 19 percent qualified for the award with Wallace receiving the highest recognition for performing for so long and so well.
Overall, the group of 88 bus operators drove 1.8 million miles in the last year without an accident, a customer service complaint or a workplace violation
The criteria for qualifying as a distinguished driver include:
Operator Ray Wallace achieved a Grand Master status.
Bus drivers who meet that criteria for one year are recognized as a distinguished driver. In Wallace’s case, he met that criteria for the tenth time, qualifying him as a Grand Master.
Wallace’s accomplishments – and those of any distinguished driver – are no easy feat, said B.J. Garcia, KCATA’s senior manager of transportation.
“It can be challenging to wake up every workday, report to work on time, and perform at a high level day in and day out,” Garcia said.
Wallace, a Sikeston, Mo. native, drives many different routes in Kansas City. His routes include the Main Street MAX, 142-North Oak, 28-Blue Ridge, 152-Lee’s Summit and 101-State Avenue. His favorite? The 142. “You don’t have to rush to stay on schedule,” Wallace said. “It’s a pretty laid back route.”
While achieving status of distinguished drive is not easy, Wallace offered these tips that he’s adhered to over the years in his drive toward Grand Master status.
Stay alert. “You need to notice everything that’s going on around you. Things happen when you don’t stay alert.”
Don’t bring home to work. “Leave your problems at home,” he said. “They get in the way. When you got other things you’re dealing with and you’re bringing that to work, your mind’s not where it’s supposed to be and you can’t stay focused.”
Stay focused. “You have to stay calm and concentrate on what you’re doing. If you’re not concentrating on what you’re doing you lose your focus.”
KCATA thanks Operator Wallace and all this year’s Distinguished Driver recipients for a stellar year of safety and customer service.
Eighty-eight bus drivers earned the Distinguished Driver status this year. These bus operators were recognized in October.