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Blue Bus Toots Horn for Longtime Employees

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 earthquake.

“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 in.”

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.

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“At first, a lot of people didn’t want to ride with me because I was a woman. Even other women wouldn’t ride with me!" Marva Cobb


“Our bus fleet is more like high tech jets on wheels now.” Ed Anderson


“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.” Stephanie Negriff


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