The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District Board of Directors on Tuesday was pleased to honor longest tenured employee Clarence Suhr.

Santa Barbara MTD's Clarence Suhr holds a 33-year safe driving record. (MTD photo)

Santa Barbara MTD’s Clarence Suhr holds a 33-year safe driving record. (MTD photo)

Hired in 1973 as one of 12 drivers, Suhr was honored for 40 years of service at MTD. As a sign of respect as well as a nod to his work longevity, Suhr has been dubbed “No. 1” by his co-workers.

At the top of the seniority list, Suhr has long held the distinction of selecting his first choice of bus route to drive, four times each year. Operations Manager Bill Morris, who was trained by Suhr, presented the 33-year safe driving record holder with certificates of appreciation from Mayor Helene Schneider, state Sen. Hannah Beth Jackson and Assemblyman Das Williams. Suhr was joined by his wife, Kathy, herself a former MTD employee.

“I started here at MTD just a year after Clarence. I thought he was a senior driver with so much experience,” said General Manager Sherrie Fisher, celebrating her 39th year with MTD this month. “When I began, I thought I would stay about two years with MTD.”

Hired as the first female driver by MTD in 1974, Ms. Fisher rose through the ranks and became general manager in 2003.

MTD Director Richard Weinberg thanked Suhr for “doing such a great job at training Sherrie!”

The MTD Board also acknowledged Carpinteria Beautiful for its popular Bus Bench Painting Program, now in at least its 10th year. Working with Cate School this year, the organization painted 12 MTD bus benches with whimsical sea and wildlife murals. MTD presented Carpinteria Beautiful Board President Diana Freeman and Bill Crowley, past president and current chair of the Bus Bench Painting Program, with a frame full of photos of all the benches. Located at Via Real and Nidever, the “Bookworm” bench is the personal favorite of Freeman.

The mission of Santa Barbara MTD is to enhance the personal mobility of South Coast residents and visitors by offering safe, clean, reliable, courteous, accessible, environmentally responsible and cost-effective transit service throughout the district.

— Kate Schwab is the assistant manager of marketing and customer service for Santa Barbara MTD.