Transportation
12:23 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Bus Driver Tales Reveal A Big Heart Behind The Wheel

This is KLCC News, I’m Tiffany Eckert-- standing at a Rapid Transit bus stop in Eugene, waiting with other riders. The bus is scheduled to arrive at 11:53.  The bright green snake of a vehicle turns the corner and it’s right on time.

Dan Dreier is at the wheel. He’s a fit guy with a quick smile. I’m catching a ride with him to talk about his job and the nearly 30 years he’s spent driving people around.

Dan Dreier has been at the wheel of a bus for nearly 30 years.
Credit Tiffany Eckert

Dan helped inaugurate EmX in 2007.

A man was on my bus in the back, the bus was full. And he had a stroller and two children. The bus came to the stop and he put his children on the platform and then got back in the bus to retrieve his stroller. And his children were toddlers and they were unattended. But I knew none of this."

What Dan did know is people got off, people got on, he closed the door and left. Then he heard the commotion in the back of the bus. People were saying “You left some kids back there.”

“I’ve had my own kids on the bus and the thought of leaving them behind is unbearable.”

Dan says he thought the ‘kids’ were maybe college students who missed the bus. Controversy sparked from Dan’s decision to keep driving to the next platform. He says LTD has strict rules about where Rapid Transit buses can stop. It was an admittedly rough opening for EmX.

Dan Dreier loves his job because of the riders.

“That’s true and the striking thing is the depth and the quality and the quantity of relationships you form in a job like this if you’re paying attention.”

This Rapid Transit bus drives between Eugene and Springfield.
Credit Tiffany Eckert

As we move swiftly along the dedicated EmX corridor, Dan tells his tale.

“I haven’t actually told this story before…”(here, Dan tells the story of Rosette and her son.)

Arriving at the Springfield Station, Dan bends down to speak with an elderly man in a wheelchair. As he moves down the bus aisle, riders reach for his hand or call out to him. It’s remarkable.

“It’s just that I’m getting ready to retire and I’ve had a hard time getting myself ready to let go of my job. Taking stock of what it’s meant to me and other people has helped…For the last few weeks I’ve been stopping people and taking little selfies…”

Dan starts scrolling through scores of pictures on his phone.

“This is Nancy, but I call her the belle of Blue River…. (listing people in pictures)

Although Dan and his wife haven’t agreed on the exact date he’ll call his last at LTD, it will be this year. Then he’ll trade in 10 wheels for two--the ones on his Harley. Yes, Dan is a biker. And for him, retirement will soon mean cruising along America’s most scenic highways. With no time posts to hit nor schedules to keep.

Web Extra:  Read LTD Driver Dan Drier's story about Rich and Gigi