Congratulations to our 40th anniversary story contest winner, Crystal Turner!
Here’s her story:
When I was in middle school I was allowed to ride the bus home from school, and it was my first taste of independence as a child. The ride home from school was always a lot of fun. I’d talk, laugh, argue, clown, flirt, and catch up on the school drama I missed during the day. I remember it being loud, silly, and a little rowdy sometimes. Riding the bus home with my friends was always a fun end to my school day.
We also wanted to share two stories from the WestCAT office. Our payroll clerk, Sharon Biggs, has been working at WestCAT for 32 years:
I started at WestCAT on May 05, 1985. I was 28 years old and never drove a bus in my life. With the help of a wonderful trainer, Tony, I was a master at driving. We only had the DAR buses, no fixed routes yet. It was lots of fun. We used to have competitions to see who could pick up the most passengers in a day. When we came to work you had to go where the Shell station is now, under San Pablo Ave, through the tunnel to get to our yard and our little 3-room trailer and one bathroom. Oh, everybody hated that tunnel you would have to play hide and seek with the skunk who would spray you if you entered and hew as in there. Lots of wildlife, the deer and rabbits, foxes– oh yeah, the mountain lion. Then in 1991 we moved to Pinole where the miniature golf course was and the chicken farmer but the building was beautiful — no more dark dingy trailer. It was nice in dispatch, you could watch the sun come up every morning. I was the first in the building. Moved in on April 1, 1991 — talk about an April Fool’s Day! Some of the workers were still here working on the building. Finally we all came together. I have watched this little bus company grow so much and I love my work family! Yes our work family, that’s what it is like working with all our fellow drivers and staff. I don’t know what I’m going to do when it comes time to retire, it has been 32 wonderful years working here and still have some more to go, but until then I’m still here and loving every minute of it!
Our Accessibility Analyst, Kevin Siemens, also submitted a story:
I remember one thing that happened very well. I think why I remember so well is because I went to Pinole Valley High School. I first heard about this on the news. The story appeared on the ten o’clock news on Channel 2. The pictures were more horrifying than the accident. The bus was coming out of the valley when a disagreement occurred behind the driver. The driver turned around to deal with it. The driver missed a turn and ran into the creek.
My first trip on WestCAT was in the late 80s. It was on the route 16 from Long Johns Silvers and I got off by the Kmart. This was when the 16 ended in Pinole Vista across from Kmart. The bus looked like a longer version of a Dial a Ride. There was only one wheelchair position. It was a tight fit. The J line was operated by AC Transit. I remember when AC Transit used to run the service. There were only two routes, the J and Q. The J of course went to Hercules and the Q went to Pinole Valley. I was excited to ride the BART bus for the first time because it was an older bus that usually didn’t have lifts.
If my home school was accessible, you might not be reading this story. I graduated from Castro School in El Cerrito in 1986. I was going to Adams Middle School, but there wasn’t an elevator. Instead I went to Pinole Middle School. I then went to Pinole Valley High School.
When I started going to DVC. I first traveled by BART and bus. I took the bus near my house to the BART station. I took BART to Concord BART where I took a bus to DVC. The worst part of the trip was transferring platforms at MacArthur BART. The elevators were at one end of the platform. I would have to get off the train, then rush to the end of the platform to change platforms. I would have to wait for one elevator, go down the elevator, cross over to the other elevator to go up to the other platform. I needed to do all of that in four minutes in order to make the connection. I didn’t like rushing and not making my connection.
I first came to WestCAT in 1996. I came in two days a week. I worked in the office and got some training in transportation. I also gave input on different issues. I worked on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:30 to 2:30.
For the last 30 years, I have seen many changes to WestCAT. Many of them has improved the service. I’m happy being at Westcat for such a long time. I am certain that the service will be great for many years to come.