Recap: Transit Employee Appreciation Day 2024

By Rob Zako
March 23, 2024

Community leaders and the public thanked those who help so many get where they need to go at an event on Monday, March 18, at Springfield Station.

Transit Employee Appreciation Day was celebrated at the Lane Transit Bus Station in Springfield. Employees and volunteers got the crowd into the spirit with signs, stickers, and baked goods. Above is Claire Roth, Better Eugene-Springfield Transportation program manager. BOB WILLIAMS / THE CHRONICLE

On March 18, 1662, French mathematician Blaise Pascal launched the first public “bus” line: a system of horse-drawn carriages that ran across Paris streets on schedule.

On March 18, 2024, in recognition of Transit Employee Appreciation Day, local leaders gathered at Springfield Station to praise Lane Transit District (LTD) employees and share personal stories about the importance of public transit.

BEST executive director Rob Zako opened the event.

Unable to attend, Congresswoman Val Hoyle asked Zako to read a statement on her behalf (see below).

Also unable to attend, State Senator James Manning asked his son, Jerale Manning, to thank bus drivers on his behalf.

Springfield Mayor Sean VanGordon said  “it has been frontline workers like bus drivers who really have done so much day to day to make sure the community keeps running,”

Springfield Chamber President Vonnie Mikkelsen shared a story about her mother, who rode the bus regularly after losing her eyesight and the ability to drive.

University of Oregon Transportation Services Director David Reesor explained, “My own office … is adjacent to the Walnut Street station, and pretty much on a daily basis, I can look out one of our windows and see a whole platform full of university students. It’s always full.” He stressed the importance of bus service, explaining that there are only 3,400 parking spaces for 25,000 people coming to campus.

Lane Community College Facilities Management & Planning Director Jennifer Hayward also stressed the importance of good transit service to get students, faculty, and staff to campus. She thanked bus drivers for making it possible.

LTD Board of Directors Member Pete Knox shared that he rides the bus all the time and thanked everyone who helps him get around.

The event was hosted by BEST and AARP Oregon in partnership with LTD. BEST provided hand signs; AARP Oregon provided pastries; and LTD live streamed the event.

Statement from Congresswoman Val Hoyle

“As a longtime resident of Lane County, Lane Transit District rider, and now member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in Congress, I know that reliable transit service is the backbone of a successful, vibrant community.

“During the COVID pandemic, the world economy slowed to a standstill, but in our community essential workers in grocery stores, hospitals, and on transit lines kept our community going. LTD drivers, mechanics, and support staff showed up day in and day out, at great risk to their own lives and their families, to keep our transit system operating. Because of their daily sacrifice, essential workers could get to and from work, seniors could get to doctors’ appointments, and families could continue to go to the grocery store.

“We owe our LTD drivers our deep appreciation and respect for all their work to help get us all through the pandemic. But like so many parts of our community, our transit workforce did not fully recover, which is why I am proud to work with LTD, the Amalgamated Transit Union, and drivers on efforts to restore and revitalize our critical transit workforce. Thank you all for keeping us moving during a difficult time, and thank you to those who are committed to keep us moving us into the future!”

Further reading

About Transit Employee Appreciation Day

Social media


Source: Bob Williams / The Chronicle

Source: Hailey Pratt / Lane Transit District

Source: Claire Roth / BEST

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