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Bill James: One Smooth Operator

Timeliness, patience and safety.

Those are the key factors that have driven Bus Operator Bill James over his 30-year career at SEPTA.

"My goal is always to take a clean, safe vehicle out and provide courteous, on-time service," James said. "When you do that, people know they can depend on you."

James' work ethic is on full display as he serves customers on the Route 55, which runs from the Olney Transportation Center to Doylestown and Willow Grove.

And while the majority of riders appreciate, and reciprocate, James' positive energy, he knows he's not always going to have a smile-filled bus. But, he considers dealing with challenges presented by some people as part of his responsibilities.

"That's your job. You're getting paid to deal with people," James said. "Sometimes, people come on, frustrated for whatever reason, and are looking for some way to vent. You have to be able to take that in, deflect it to some other place, and stay focused."

He added: "Once you get behind the wheel, at that moment, you are SEPTA. I am a representative of SEPTA to these people, and you have to act accordingly."

James said he often talks to younger bus operators about how he has successfully dealt with sometimes tense situations in his three decades serving SEPTA customers.

"You have to remember, it's nothing personal against you - someone might just be having a bad day," he said. "I always tell them, patience is the key. If you're patient, you can really do anything, because patience gives you the time and ability to react and deal with any type of situation. So keep your patience, stay focused, and you'll be fine."

James said this same approach also helps him deal with difficult conditions on the roads.

"Traffic jams, bad weather, snow and ice - it all comes back to patience and focus," he said. "Sometimes, the conditions on the road aren't going to allow you to make your schedules, so you just have to handle it. You have to make sure everyone stays safe."

James, 58, said he sought out a career with SEPTA as a way to earn a good living and provide for his family, and the chance to do interesting work.

"I felt as though this would be a good opportunity for me," James said. "Getting this job is one of the best things that has ever happened to me."

Operator Bill James behind the wheel on his Route 55 bus.

James at the Olney Transportation Center, where his work day ends.

The morning bus roll-out at the Midvale Depot.