Imagine driving the circumference of the earth. Now imagine doing that 40 times without being involved in an accident! This is the equivalent of what it takes to become a member of the exclusive Omnitrans One Million Mile Club. It’s not easy.
This month, the Million Mile Club welcomed four new 1 million mile drivers and two 2 million mile drivers into its ranks (see list at end of article). These dedicated coach operators have achieved the prestigious 1 million mile mark by logging 25,000 driving hours without a preventable accident.
Coach operators Frank Astorga, Robbie Fields, Aundres Caldwell and Lydia Bennefield were among six new Million Mile Club inductees to be honored in a special awards ceremony at the Omnitrans Board of directors meeting on March 2nd.
We caught up with them before the ceremony to ask them what advice they would give others who want to achieve the same safety record.
“I’ve always been a safe driver,” coach operator Aundre tells us. “You have to be that way in this job. Of course some of it comes with experience too. I’ve been driving a long time. The biggest thing is to just pay attention to everything going on around you.”
Robbie agrees. “I’ve been here 22 years and have to say that the Omnitrans safety program taught me quite a bit. You learn how to always be looking at least a block ahead to see what’s coming and to understand what could happen. It really raises your awareness.”
Lydia nods. “People don’t realize all that goes into operating a coach; they think it’s just a fun job. In some ways it’s a compliment, because you seem so relaxed they have no idea what you’re really doing. But there is always something going on that you have to pay attention to. For example, whenever I’m passing a person parked at the side of the road I give a friendly honk to let them know I’m there. This way they don’t suddenly open their door and try to step out.”
“And then there’s sbX,” points out Frank. “With the rapid transit line, you have to be extra vigilant and anticipate that that people may do the wrong thing, like jaywalk or cut into the bus only lane. There’s a lot to think about.”
Fleet Safety and Training Instructor Kimberly Perkins coordinates the Million Mile Club awards process, and she has high praise for all the inductees. “They’re pros. They smile and they greet people, even when they’re having a bad day. I think what they’ve accomplished is amazing. That’s a very long time to go without an accident and to have no more than 30 total absences. It’s not easy—for our Two Million Milers especially. In the past 13 years, only seventeen coach operators have achieved the Two Million Mile award.”
Our gratitude and congratulations go out to these latest Million Mile achievers whose commitment and dedication set the agency standard for safety and excellence.
One Million Mile Coach Operators:
Each receive a trophy, jacket, hat, belt buckle, certificate of recognition, a silver name plate, a check for $500 and a day off with pay.
- Lydia Bennefield
- Aundre Caldwell
- Robbie Fields
- Antonio Navarro
Two Million Mile Coach Operators:
Each receive a trophy, jacket, hat, belt buckle, certificate of recognition, a gold name plate, a check for $500, a 5-day cruise and 5 days off with pay.
- Francisco Astorga
- David Delgadillo
View more photos of our Million Mile honorees on Flickr.