Driving a 40-foot Metro Transit bus through rush hour traffic is no small feat. Doing it for 35 years without having a crash is another.

That's how long Rodney Smith has kept a safe driving record, and for that he was honored Thursday at Metro Transit's Ovations Awards Ceremony.

Smith, who makes four round trips each weekday between Normandale Community College and downtown Minneapolis on Route 535 was one of five drivers and light rail operators honored for 35 years of safe driving and customer service. Two were recognized for 30 years of incident-free driving and two others for reaching the 25 year mark.

“It’s a lot of skill, a lot of experience, a lot of good training – and maybe just a little bit of luck,” said operator Duane Lundgren who has tallied 30 consecutive years of safe driving. He was quoted in the most recent article on Metro Transit's Readers Almanac.

Each year, Metro Transit has honored drivers who have not had an accident and met other criteria with the Outstanding Operator Award. The winners Thursday are those who earned the award for consecutive years. Here are the criteria to be considered for the Outstanding Operator Award as provided by Metro Transit:

  • No more than four days away from work due to being late, sick or requesting time off prior to 9 a.m. the preceding day.
  • No more than two occurrences of absenteeism over a six-month period due to being late, sick or requesting time after 9 a.m. the preceding day, among other reasons
  • No no-shows
  • No responsible accidents 
  • No more than two filed customer complaints 
  • No Class A violations 
  • No written warnings, last-chance agreements or suspensions 
  • Operators must meet these requirements over two six-month periods.

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