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Retiring Bus Driver Says Meeting People Was Part Of ‘Dream Job’

Randy Woleen, a Jamestown resident and Metro bus driver for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, is set to retire at the end of the week. His said driving a bus has always been his dream job. Submitted photo

For decades, Randy Woleen has helped transport countless people from one place to another. On Friday, the Jamestown resident will reach his final destination.

Woleen is set to retire at the end of the week as a Metro bus driver for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority in Buffalo where he has worked for the past 29 years.

“I love driving and I love the people,” Woleen said. “I’ve met so many interesting people over the years. Driving a bus is my dream job. I appreciate that the NFTA is such a professional organization.”

Woleen began working part time for the NFTA in the early ’90s before going full time in 2000. He began his dream job as a bus driver in 1982 working for the Jamestown Area Regional Transit System, which was in operation from 1962 to 1996. He then moved to the Chautauqua Area Regional Transit System where he worked for a brief time.

Over the years, Woleen has also driven school buses and the shuttle bus at Chautauqua Institution in the summers.

Woleen's son, Jordan, is pictured with his chidren, Payton and Grace. His family surprised him during his route in Buffalo.

As a bus driver, Woleen has seen a lot.

“There’s been some tough times,” he said. “One time when driving in Buffalo my back door window was shot out of the bus. But there’s also been some great times. When my wife, Dianne, and I got married in 1983 we had a good friend, who was also a JARTS driver, drive the decorated bus around the city beeping its horn after our ceremony. So many passengers were excited to see us. I still have reunion ‘breakfasts’ with some of the JARTS drivers. Such good friendships were made.”

Driving in Buffalo has meant dealing with snow — and plenty of it.

“One year during a big Buffalo blizzard my bus got stuck in the snow,” Woleen said. “I called in to get pulled out and I was told I was 20th in line for a tow. … Luckily the nearby fire hall let me come in to warm up and get coffee.”

Recently, while on his rounds driving the bus in Buffalo, Woleen’s family surprised him with a visit.

Woleen's son, Alex, is pictured with his daughter, Kinsley.

“We have three sons and four grandchildren,” he said. “Our two youngest sons were able to bring our three granddaughters — our grandson just graduated from Southwestern in June — to ride the bus. Grace, Payton and Kinsley were so excited to see me. They were asking questions the whole time. When I turned the corner at the McKinley Mall I was thinking, ‘Wow, that’s a big group to get on the bus.’ It was a big surprise when I pulled up and it was my family.”

Though he is nearing retirement, Woleen said he plans to keep driving in some capacity.

“I’m happy I’ve had a job I’ve loved for so many years,” he said. “I enjoy every day I go to work, and I feel I’ve always treated my passengers with respect. I’ve really enjoyed the 29 years at NFTA Metro but the commute, especially during winter, was becoming more difficult as I age. I’ll still be driving the school bus but closer to home. The millions of miles I’ve driven are far from over. I love what I do and plan to keep at it for as long as possible.”

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