Transit Superstars

At BC Transit, we like to reward excellence and celebrate the people making a positive difference in our regional transit systems across the province. Every year, a new group of Transit SuperStars are selected, following nominations from BC Transit employees, operating companies and local government partners.

Here are the latest Transit Superstars being recognized in 2023:

Remco Makkinje – East Kootenays

 Remco Makkinje - image

As the General Manager of NextGen Transit, Remco is the backbone of all transit in the East Kootenays, overseeing six systems that deliver conventional, handyDART, Health Connections and On Request services. Remco consistently goes above and beyond while serving the community. A great example of his extraordinary commitment happened when he picked up an elderly patient who’d come out of surgery at the local hospital and boarded the wrong Health Connections bus, taking her more than an hour in the wrong direction. Without hesitation, Remco drove his personal vehicle to pick her up and deliver her home, taking him over three hours in challenging snowy conditions. He truly exemplifies what customer service means.

Core Value: Customer Service

James Grant – Central Fraser Valley

 James Grant - image

A Lead Transit Supervisor with Transdev Canada, James Grant’s commitment to community has recently been demonstrated in many ways. In April 2022, James played a key role in the Fraser Valley Express extension to Lougheed, building a strong relationship with TransLink to help ensure a smooth transition for customers and transit workers. In November 2022 he led an initiative to support the Central Fraser Valley RCMP’s tribute to Constable Tzu-Hsin Shaelyn Yang by coordinating transportation for 100 RCMP officers. And in January 2023, James was instrumental in the apprehension of a suspect responsible for multiple bear spray incidents in the Central Fraser Valley Transit System. James is also one of the most empathetic and gifted customer service response writers. The community members’ questions and concerns are thoughtfully and respectfully answered numerous times per day by James.

Core Value: Community

Christopher Wade – Port Alberni

Christopher Wade - image

Christopher is the lone Mechanic at the Port Alberni transit facility, and his commitment to the safety of customers and employees is exceptional. He’s been with PWTransit Canada for seven years, and is responsible for maintaining the five conventional and four custom buses in the Port Alberni fleet. He takes his work very seriously, and is always open to discussions and collaborating on where improvements to the fleet can be made. PWTransit Canada and the customers in the Port Alberni Regional Transit System are lucky to have Christopher in charge of keeping the fleet in great condition and able to get people where they need to go safely.

Core Value: Safety

Laker’s Go Bus Society – Williams Lake

Laker’s Go Bus Society - image 1

Pictured L to R – Kanwarjit Klar, Will Lethbridge, Brice O’Neil, Brenda Nicol, Fred Bare, Mike Deschenes and Lou Pilaszkiewicz

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Pictured L to R – Tina Pilaszkiewicz, Stevie Carignan and Tina Thomassen

Good teamwork is important all the time, but crucial when major challenges arise. The Lakers’ Go Bus Society that operates the Williams Lake Transit System is like a well-oiled machine, and it was on full display during the coldest days in winter 2022. Drivers Fred Bare, Mike Deschenes, Will Lethbridge, Brenda Nicol and Lou Pilaszkiewicz made sure the buses were started up and running for the next person coming on shift. With -35 degree weather and with the buses parked outside, these drivers would come in early to ensure the buses were ready for their start time. All the while Office Assistant Tina Thomassen would coordinate with the shop to ensure buses were available. Mother Nature couldn’t stop this team!

Core Value: Teamwork

Sandra Flanagan – Quesnel

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Sandra Flanagan is the Manager of Passenger Contracts Transportation Services in Quesnel. She goes in to work at 4 a.m. every day to ensure that the start of service goes smoothly. She works closely with the maintenance shop to ensure clear communications on necessary work and collaborated with them to develop a communication board so everyone knows what’s happening with the buses. Sandra also worked with them to address their inventory counts to significantly improve their efficiency within a year. Not only is she highly organized but she has a high regard for putting your best foot forward and taking the time to doing something right, definitely earning the trust and respect of everyone she works and interacts with.

Core Value: Trust & Respect

Rodi De Vuono Outstanding Service Award – Rodi De Vuono worked for the City of Nelson for more than 20 years, which included several years as the Garage and Transit Superintendent. Rodi was a passionate and caring leader who took extreme pride in the quality of work from his team. Rodi De Vuono lost his battle with cancer in 2012, and he is still greatly missed by family, friends and coworkers. This year’s recipient is Derek Huebner, the Regional Maintenance Manager with First Transit.

Derek Huebner - image

Derek Huebner has a keen willingness to trialing standard jobs, many updates to work management system to improve data, and regularly being on-site in various locations across BC to support maintenance operations. Examples include running workshops during staff absence, investigating incidents, safety process improvements, constantly updating business processes and providing training to local staff (mechanics and maintenance leadership). He truly goes above and beyond to ensure BC Transit and Transdev Canada maintenance needs are met in BC.

He is known for his constant drive and motivation to improve people and processes in support of maintenance excellence.

Mike Docherty Lifetime Achievement Award – Mike “Doc” Docherty worked in the transit industry for 45 years. During this time Doc wore many transit hats including Driver, Assistant Superintendent, Assistant Manager, General Manager and finally Senior Director of Operations in the Kelowna Regional Transit System. Docherty was also very community-minded, helping to raise more than $200,000 for the Salvation Army Christmas Fund through the Kelowna Santa Sleigh Bus. Mike Docherty passed away in 2013. This year’s recipient is Peter Kuziek ­from the Regional District of Nanaimo Transit System.

Peter Kuziek - image

In his amazing 43 years working in the Regional District of Nanaimo Transit System Peter Kuziek has been a Mechanic, Transit Operator, Dispatcher, Trainer, Planner, Scheduler, and when called upon, the Acting Operations Manager. As a Planner and Scheduler, Peter had a knack for figuring out the best possible way to translate the system’s resources into the best possible service for customers, while also making sure it was as reliable and as user friendly as possible for drivers. Peter has a unique ability to see the bigger picture and the impacts that will occur during schedule changes. He has also responded to the call of the Emergency Operations Centre to evacuate residents due to flooding, fires and sinkholes, providing shelter and transportation to temporary housing.

Peter has dedicated his career to public transit, keeping people moving and getting them to their destinations efficiently and safely, even returning as a casual driver after retiring in January 2022.

Past Transit Superstar winners:

Ahola, Harry
Allen, Bob
Atkinson, Phil
Berry, Matt
Biggar, Les
Brown, Ron
Butchart, Shiloh
Carefree Society
Central Fraser Valley Team
City of Nelson Maintenance Team
Colusso, Gabe
Cowichan Valley Team
DalSanto, Emma
Davis, Mike
Dojack, Terry
Dombowsky, Jerry
Dyck, Gerry
Erlebach, Hilary
Felker, Erin
First Canada
Fuhrmann, Gary
Gould, Martin
Grant, James
Grinde, Shirley
Hall, Bob
Halls, Cliff & Sherry (and team)
Harding, Bill
Hickman, Cathy
Hill, Chris
Hill, Megan
Hoffmann, Colin
Huebner, Derek
Kelly, Mike
Kittmer, Mike
Kotowski, Derek
Laker’s Go Bus Society
Layton, Rosalind
LDN Transportation
Lee, Joanne
Lougheed, Adam
Madsen, Erik
Matheson, Randy
Mavis, Mary
Merrit Team
Miller, Brandon
Moore, Dave
Moskal, Shannon
Mould, Poppy
Nicola Valley Transportation Society
Palosky, Mike
Princeton Team
Pilaszkiewicz, Tina
Proud, Larry
Pomponio, Roberto
Port Alberni Team
PWTransit Canada
Rausch, Carole
Richards, Darren
Robson, Dave
Rubis, Rob
Sankey, Karen
Shuswap Transit Team
Singbeil, Don
Stach, Dennis
Szabo, Andy
Teichmann, Frank
Thormaehlen, Fred
Transit Supervisor Manual Team
Vernon Transit Team
Vine, James
West Kootenay Regional Committee
Westgarde, Les
Westlake, Ron
Whistler Transit Team
White, Rick
Wyllie, Mike
Yellowhead Community Services Society
Zerebeski, Lou