Bus Toots Horn for Longtime
By Lookout Staff
September 6 -- The Big Blue
Bus this week will honor three employees
who hopped aboard back when bell-bottoms,
tie-dyed shirts and platform shoes
were all the rage.
On Friday, the City’s transit agency will
recognize Ed Anderson, Marva Cobb and Bob Ayer
for their 30 years of service.
“These individuals represent the best of
the best,” said Stephanie Negriff, general
manager of the Big Blue Bus. “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,” Negriff said. “By
their actions, they have demonstrated that this
is more than just a job to them. We are very lucky
to call them both colleagues and friends.”
The three employees have accumulated a wealth
of experiences and lasting memories.
Operations Manager Bob Ayer recalls actress Sandra
Bullock training at the Big Blue Bus for her role
in the hit movie “Speed.”
“I was involved in setting up the training,”
said Ayer. “Sandra was excellent, and learned
to drive a full-size city bus in about an hour
and a half.
“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!”
Ayer also recalls working during the 1994 Northridge
“The buildings were shaking immensely,
and there was broken glass everywhere,”
he said. “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.”
Marva Cobb, a motor coach operator training coordinator,
knew she had found the right job when she got
behind the wheel of a Big Blue Bus.
“I remember seeing a Big Blue Bus on Pico
Boulevard, and I asked the driver if they were
hiring. 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
When Cobb started, it was rare seeing a woman
driving a bus.
“At first, a lot of people didn’t
want to ride with me because I was a woman,”
Cobb 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. Now, Cobb is teaching
others how to drive.
Ever since he started working at the Big Blue
Bus in 1978, Maintenance Supervisor Ed Anderson
has taken his job keeping the buses running personally.
“Each vehicle I work on, I think of as
a vehicle my family might ride on,” he said.
“Quality, and not quantity, is what’s
most important. That’s something I’ve
emphasized over the years.”
When Anderson first started, the buses were completely
mechanical with no onboard electronics. Now, the
fleet is “more like high tech jets on wheels.”
“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,” he said. “I
have such great respect for the mechanics and
technicians who work here. They’re the ones
who make me look good.”
The 30-year employee awards ceremony will take
place on Friday, September 7 at 1
p.m. at the Big Blue Bus administrative
offices, located at 1660 7th Street
in Santa Monica.