MPTA Honors Transit Operator Champions from Around Missouri at 2022 Annual Meeting

The Missouri Public Transit Association honored operators from across Missouri at the 2022 Annual Meeting as a part of the Missouri Transit Conference and Expo held in Springfield, MO this year.   Operators were nominated by their respective agencies for going above and beyond the call of duty especially during the last two years.   The 2022 Missouri Transit Operator Wall of Fame included:


Chris Leslie, City Utilities of Springfield

On March 17, 2022, Bus Operator Chris Leslie was driving the Line 6 route west on Grand when he noticed a person in a wheelchair stuck on a railroad crossing.  The gentleman’s wheelchair wheel was stuck between the sidewalk and the rail perpendicular to the rail.  He was unable to get his wheelchair freed up.  Leslie was able to bring the bus to a safe spot and with the assistance of a passenger crossed the street and pushed the gentleman to safety.  We appreciate Chris for his care for the community while performing his duties as a bus operator at City Utilities.

Fernando Salcedo, City Utilities of Springfield

On the night of March 15, 2022, Bus Operator Fernando Salcedo was driving the Line 26 route west on Mt. Vernon when a shadow darted across the road a short distance ahead of him.  Fernando quickly distinguished the figure to be a toddler running down the road.  Fernando safely stopped and secured the bus before crossing the street and picking up the child.  Fernando brought the child to the safety of the bus where he called for assistance from supervision and the police.  Upon arrival, police were able to return the child (who had escaped a supervised backyard) to the parents without incident.  We appreciate the actions of Fernando and his watchful eye of the community while he performs his duties as a bus operator at City Utilities.

Scott Gaines, Serve, Inc.

Richard “Scott” Gaines shows his dedication to not only his job as a bus driver for SERVE but also as an outstanding member in the community.  Mr. Gaines is a constant reminder of compassion for our most vulnerable members in our county.  Besides his daily route for our special needs residents going to day programs, Scott is also a full time employee for the School for the Deaf working with students.

Mr. Gaines also volunteers as a mentor at Fulton public schools to our teenage community. His passion is making a difference in young people’s lives that need it the most.  He believes that his volunteering will help our community show progress for the future.  He makes a difference in many people’s lives and Callaway county is blessed to have such a caring and compassionate person who does not hesitate to be there for anyone.  His dedication to everyone around him is an example that we all should take notice of.  As his supervisor for the past two and a half years his drive for community betterment and the selfless acts that he performs on a daily basis is one that I will never grow tired of.   This is just a few examples of what he does during the year and believe this is why he should be considered as an outstanding operator.

Frankie Hedges, OATS Transit 

Frankie has been an OATS driver for a little over 14 years.  She comes in everyday ready and willing to do whatever needs to be done.  She rarely complains and keeps her schedule flexible to help support our clients however she can.    Recently she had some personal time off scheduled, but we were very short staffed that day and she voluntarily rescheduled her appointments just to ensure our routes had coverage.  She strives to do her job well and without any mistakes.  Frankie loves our clients, and our clients & families love her – she cares, and it shows.

Albert Pfeifer, OATS Transit 

Albert has only been with us a short time and has taken a very demanding route, which he has excelled in performing.  Our clients love him and so do their families.  He has quickly become one of our dispatcher’s “go-to” drivers when they need to make last minute schedule changes – he will rearrange his day with no complaints to help safely get our clients where they need to be.  He exemplifies the spirit and dedication that make OATS drivers so wonderful.

Rick Sitzes, SMTS, Inc

Rick Sitzes has been a driver for SMTS for 11 years. During his time with our company, he has proved to be a dependable and dedicated employee. However, the attention he gives our riders is what makes him an outstanding operator. He is eager to greet each rider and make sure that their trip on our bus is exceptional. Riders often request to have Rick as their driver. He is a great example to our other drivers. Carrying in groceries, assisting riders to the door, he really does it all!


Rita “Dianne” White,  SMTS, Inc

Dianne White has been with SMTS for a little over 10 years now. She acts as her own coordinator directly working with riders to make sure they get on the bus to get groceries, to their doctor’s appointments, or whatever their need is. Mrs. White also leaves her house before 5 am 3 days a week to ensure riders in Reynolds county get to dialysis for their life-saving treatment. Dianne never complains when requested to do an additional task. You will often find Dianne with a Coca-Cola and a story to tell about how great her riders are.

Sharon Bradford, SMTS, Inc

Sharon Bradford has worked for SMTS for nearly 9 years. Often leaving her house at 3 am to provide transportation service for the dialysis clients of Phelps County 6 days a week. Sharon’s ability to interact with her fellow drivers to offer a helping hand when they get behind is like none other. While you might not catch a smile on Sharon’s face often, there is no question that she loves her job with SMTS. Even when Sharon has a trying day, she never fails to put the needs of her riders first!

Gerry McCloud, SMTS, Inc

Gerry McCloud is truly an example of what SMTS looks for when hiring employees. Gerry has been with SMTS for over 6 years. Gerry has done it all for SMTS. That includes early morning trips, helping answer the phone and schedule trips, and training numerous other employees. You will never find Gerry without a smile on his face and a story to tell about one of his grandkids! Gerry is the first in line to help riders with their groceries or pick up an extra shift. He is definitely an all-around great guy!

Donald “Joe” Bradshaw,  SMTS, Inc

Joe Bradshaw started with our company 5 years ago. Joe wanted to fill his newfound time after retirement by giving back to his community. Joe has embraced the jobs challenging moments and relishes them in the easy days. Joe is always willing to help when short staffed regardless of the start time that day. Joe has volunteered to help with projects in the community that spot SMTS and the services we provide. Joe is a friend to every rider and driver alike!

Jerry Williams,  SMTS, Inc

Jerry Williams has been an employee for over 4 years. While Jerry’s title is operator, he is so much more. Jerry assists with vehicle issues and makes sure the preventive maintenance is handled for his whole county. He also acts as our driver trainer for all new operators. Jerry is often the rider’s favorite driver after the very first trip on the bus. Jerry is willing to go above and beyond for SMTS including starting his shift at all hours of the day.

Todd Troppmann, Metro Transit 

Call-A-Ride Operator Todd Troppmann is one of our highest performing Line Instructors for the Call-A-Ride Division and one of four FY2022 Call-A-Ride Operators of the Year. A Line Instructor is a selected/qualified Van Operator who has proven themselves to be an outstanding trainer as well as a dedicated mentor for newly hired van operators.  In addition to maintaining his Line Instructor duties he continues to offer his assistance to fellow van operators as well as the Call-A-Ride Dispatch team whenever needed.  Todd’s positive outlook when he presents himself for duty has proven to be quite infectious.  Additionally, during Metro Call-A-Ride’s highest staff shortage Todd worked the most hours this past year. Todd transported 2732 passengers in FY2022 with an On-Time-Performance of 89%, which is excellent while he is training new team members. He has accumulated a positive (+24) attendance points and he has been accident free since he was hired into Metro Transit in 2014. We are honored to nominate Todd and have greatly benefited from his hard work and dedication.

 Robert Dale, Metro Transit 

MetroBus Operator Robert Dale has overall excellence in the areas of Attendance, Safety, On-Time-Performance (OTP) and Customer Feedback in calendar year 2021 included:

  • 95.32% OTP on +10K time points
  • 20thamong all MB Operators in mileage with zero preventable accidents
  • 11thamong all MB in Riders
  • Zero customer service complaints
  • 1 customer commendation
  • + 24 points and worked frequent weekly OT to help us cover open work

Robert’s ‘team first’ attitude and performance upholds our core values of Team Member Focus, Customer First, Accountability and Safety!

Ida Wicker, Metro Transit 

Metrolink Operator Ida Wicker has overall excellence in the areas of attendance, length of service and overall performance. Ms. Wicker has been with Metrolink since 2000 and an LRV Operator since 2012. She has an outstanding attendance and performance record throughout her career. During Ms.  Wicker received two knee replacements surgeries, completed rehabilitation and returned to work immediately thereafter. Because of her fantastic work ethic, she regularly makes herself available to work overtime on an ongoing basis.

Charles Henderson, KCATA 

Operator Henderson because he delivers top-notch customer service every day, to every customer. He smiles when he drives his bus, says good morning, perhaps with nod of the head, and tells customers to have a nice day when they leave. He understands that he is transporting precious cargo – people – not packages. Mr. Henderson is always at work, standing ready to service his community with pride. Going above and beyond doesn’t always mean lifesaving feats. Sometimes, the little things, like a smile and empathy, will touch people in lifesaving ways. That’s what Mr. Henderson does in such an exemplary way. Truly makes every person feel special, no matter their circumstances or standing in life. KCATA is lucky and proud to have Charles Henderson on our team.

Sandra Schultz, OATS Transit, Southwest Region

Sandy Shultz is an exceptional employee and a human being of rare quality – so very caring and compassionate for others! She has been a driver, team leader, and driver trainer with OATS Transit for 12 years! Just a few of her recent above & beyond accomplishments are as follows:

  • Excels at engaging with and motivating others to get involved, and to go above and beyond.
  • Orchestrated a lakeside picnic for local sheltered workshop riders where they all played basketball and enjoyed a well-deserved social event outside of their norm.
  • Assembled care packages with hygiene items and games for a group of disabled riders.
  • Picks up prescriptions and delivers meals for several people when they are unable to do for themselves.
  • Orchestrated dinner for a long-time rider who had been feeling very down. Arranged a cake and attendance by the rider’s friends.
  • Encourages her family involvement too! Her daughter gave a flat screen television, including delivery and setup, to a rider in need.
  • Consistently ensures riders receive Get Well and We Miss You cards when they are unable to ride.
  • Visits numerous who are hospitalized, and others who have entered into long-term care.

In Sandy’s words, “…one of the best things about my job is being able to meet people who truly need this kind of help, and I’d never have known them otherwise. The most difficult part for all of us, is losing them.”

To view the full video from this years conference. Click here.