Each month, the Missouri Public Transit Association (MPTA) spotlights transit operators from across the state to highlight their work and commitment to transit. For the month of March, we are pleased to spotlight Paulette Waggle from OATS Transit.
“Paulette Waggle has been the face of OATS Transit in Southwest Missouri for over 40 years come March 2023.” Says Jeff Robinson, Regional Director says regarding Waggle, “Her tenure as an OATS driver far eclipses that of 85+ fellow OATS drivers in Southwest, MO. It’s simply amazing to think of the growing pains, changes, and challenging times Paulette has so faithfully endured with our company. She is such a wonderful example of good country folk and the epitome of Rural Missouri and the heart of the Ozarks!”
For the past 40 years, Paulette has been committed to serving many riders across Wright County and Douglas County. Her favorite thing about her job is making her riders feel as comfortable as possible and putting a smile on their faces as best as she can. What motivates Waggle throughout her workday is knowing that sometimes she may be the only person certain people may see throughout the day, especially during these last several years.
“They look forward to riding my bus because sometimes it’s the only time that they get out of their house,” said Waggle. “If I can get them to their appointments with a smile, then I know I did the right thing. I also like when they tell me how good I am. That’s the best part.”
Over the years, Paulette has had many different regulars who love her commitment to her work and her passion for people. “I see the same people most of the time and remember their faces and names,” added Waggle. “I had a man named Chester who was married for 75 years. When his wife passed, he started riding my bus to the senior center to pass the time. He would tell me stories about her. He was very spry for his age and filled with stories. He lived to be almost 107 years old and rode my bus until he was 105.”
For those that are interested in becoming an operator, linking people and being able to have patience are the two most essential parts of the job according to Waggle. “You’re the only one they see some days so sometimes it can be a challenge; you want to make sure you’re a light for them. That you make their ride pleasant and calm.”
Paulette will be celebrating her 40th year as an operator on March 9th and is continuing her work without thoughts of leaving. “I should retire at my age, but my riders would miss me too much and I would miss them.”
If you have an operator that you would like to nominate for next month’s MPTA Operator of the Month, email our staff at firstname.lastname@example.org