are honored; tell of their experiences

The Santa Monica Big Blue Bus held a special awards ceremony to honor 30-year employees Ed Anderson, Tim Giroux, Marva Cobb and Bob Ayer for their years of service to the agency on Friday, September 7th.

“These individuals represent the best of the best,” said Big Blue Bus general manager Stephanie Negriff. “They are deeply respected by their co-workers for their dedication to their jobs, and for their leadership abilities.

“In this day and age of job-hopping, I find it admirable that these three unique people elected to make the Big Blue Bus their family for so many years.”

Ayer’s most memorable experience was when actress Sandra Bullock trained at the Big Blue Bus for her role in the hit movie Speed.

“I was involved in setting up the training,” said Ayer, operations manager for the Big Blue Bus. “Sandra was excellent, and learned to drive a full-size city bus in about an hour and a half. A practice area was set up in the parking lot, and by the end of the training session she was doing everything perfect. Everyone was so impressed with her abilities that we decided to make her an honorary driver.

“She’s got a second career if she ever decides to leave the film business.”

Another vivid memory was being at work during the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

“The buildings were shaking immensely, and there was broken glass everywhere,” the operation manager recalled. “We had to decide how to deploy service to get people around. Even though we only had limited radio communications, we found out what streets were still open.

“We were able to get back in service pretty fast. I was really proud of how everyone pulled together to get the buses moving again.”

Cobb, a motor coach operator training coordinator, had worked at other jobs early in her career prior to starting as a driver for the Big Blue Bus in 1977, but she said she instinctively knew she had found the right job once she started working there.

“I remember seeing a Big Blue Bus on Pico Boulevard, and I asked the driver if they were hiring,” Cobb said. “She said yes, so I followed her in my car all the way down Pico — stopping at all the bus stops along the way — until the driver showed me where City Hall was so I could put my application in.”

She remembers that when she first started, it was a real oddity to see a woman bus driver in Santa Monica.

“At first, a lot of people didn’t want to ride with me because I was a woman,” she said. “Even other women wouldn’t ride with me. Sometimes people would verbally abuse me, but I decided I wasn’t going to let others make me quit. I knew if I stayed I could win people over.

“That was 30 years ago, and now I teach others how to drive. I’m really glad I stayed, because I’ve met some lifelong friends here that are like my family now.”

Anderson, a maintenance supervisor, said doing the job right has been a top priority for him since he began his career at the Big Blue Bus as a maintenance mechanic in 1978. He recalled that when he first started at the Big Blue Bus, the buses were completely mechanical, with no onboard electronics. That has changed over the years.

“Our bus fleet is more like high-tech jets on wheels now,” he said. “Many of our bus systems, including the engines, are computer-driven, and this requires the maintenance staff to stay on top of all the technological advances. I have such great respect for the mechanics and technicians who work here,” said Anderson. “They’re the ones who make me look good.”