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.
“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.