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PSTA’s longest serving bus driver steps down after 40 years of service

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authorities longest serving bus driver is retiring. Dave Beck has been driving PSTA customers around in buses since 1975.

Back then there was no power steering or air conditioning on buses. The hourly wage for then St. Petersburg Municipal Transit System was just more than $2 and rides cost just about ten cents.

No one has ever served the transit agency as a bus operator for that long.

“It’s been a long journey,” Beck said according to a news release from the agency. “In a way, I am ready to see it go, but it is like a second home to me. There are people I met on the bus who are still friends of mine fifteen years later.”

Beck is a St. Pete native whose first word as a child was bus. The son of a Greyhound bus mechanic, Beck told PSTA he was destined to be a bus driver.

“It was a way of life back then; people wanted to ride the bus,” Beck said. “I remember riding the scenic cruises on the Greyhound and thinking it was the coolest thing.”

Beck remembers a time when public transit was different.

David Beck

“You had to hand-crank your sign, then the side sign, and then the sign in the back,” Beck said referring to nifty features most now take for granted. Beck described bus drivers as all looking like Popeye, and not because of the spinach, rather because without power steering, rather because navigating the large buses without power steering was an act of brute and strength.

The St. Petersburg Municipal Transit System became PSTA a decade after Beck began working for the agency.

The veteran driver is most proud of his 38-year safe driving record, which is the longest in the agency’s history.

“Dave is a reminder of the timeless impression we have on our community,” said PSTA CEO Brad Miller. “His hard-work and dedication will not be forgotten.”

Beck will spend his retirement with his wife, daughter and, not his own cats, but his grand-cats.

PSTA currently employees nearly 600 employees.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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