SacRT’s ‘transit heroes’ are here, there, everywhere, serving the public everyday

February 27, 2024 SacRT Blog

The Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) is a team of heroes. Every day, our over 1,400 employees save the day by bringing together their wide array of skills in a team effort to get tens of thousands of Sacramentans where they need to go.

Our SacRT super team members aren’t often in the spotlight, though. Who are these heroes? And what are their special powers? To offer the public an insight, we have persuaded a few members of our super team to ‘take off their masks’ and talk about how they approach our daily mission.

Help spread the love, by sharing your support for Transit Heroes. Have a memorable experience with a SacRT transit hero? Let us know! Submit your story online by clicking the button below or share it with us on social media using #SacRTTransitHero.

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We will share your stories with our frontline staff on Transit Driver Appreciation Day on Monday, March 18.

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Meet Some of SacRT’s Transit Heroes

Cheresa Butler: Her SacRT coworkers are not just a team, they are a family

My coworkers are awesome. They welcome you in with love,” Cheresa says. “They share, to help you through your journey. It is more of a family. On the bus, you are welcoming people in too. It is very pleasant when you have someone who says good morning. So I will do that with all my passengers. I tell them to have a blessed day. Have a happy day.”

Nicholas Charles: He swooped in to save the day when a child boarded without his family

“A grandmother with two grandchildren was boarding a train. She put the one boy on. He was probably six. She turned to get the other, and we took off! Everybody was kind of freaking out. I walked up to the boy, he was crying, and said, ‘Hey, we’re gonna get you back to your grandmother.’ I gave him a junior transit officer sticker, and he calmed down. We jumped off at the next stop. We started walking back and saw the grandmother and other grandchild running to meet us. She said, ‘Thank you, my gosh, my daughter’s never going to let me babysit again!’ I said (laughing), ‘We’ll keep it between us!’ But that made me feel really good.”

Ielan Conner: Always bring an open mind to the job, and don’t judge others  

It was pouring rain one day and a customer’s money got soaked. The machine wouldn’t take it. We were able to provide her with a ride that day,” Ielan says. “She kept saying thank you so much. The next day, I said, ‘Just put in the regular amount.’ She said, ‘No, I want to help you because you helped me out in the rain.’.’ My favorite thing is human interaction. People talk to you. I can only say so much back, but I like to be an open ear.  People appreciate that. You never know what someone else is going through.”

Toni Cooper: The caring voice on the phone for seniors and disabled riders

I really like that I am actually helping people,” Toni says. “A lot of people call in and are very grateful. They thank you for the service. They tell you, ‘Without you I wouldn’t be able to go out and do what I want to do, to get to the doctor or go see my family.’ They may be in a wheelchair. Some don’t have family or friends who can drive them. It is nice to know the service we provide allows people to live their lives to a higher capacity than they would be able to otherwise.”

Leonel Gudino: A transit hero is someone who steps up to the plate every single day.

“SacRT is an amazing place to work. Working here makes me feel great. It opens me up, because sometimes I was shy talking to certain people. A transit hero is someone who steps up to the plate every day. I am building a rapport with people. Sometimes when the (downtown) train is late, I wait a few minutes, and riders are grateful. They try to give you stuff, like candy. My wife loves it when I talk to her about work.”


Latasha Holmes: She makes sure she drives safely. She gets the ‘thumbs up’ from other drivers

I like driving, and I love being outside. Driving a bus is amazing, not like a car. The training is awesome. SacRT really stresses safety. Downtown, I stay at 25 miles per hour. You take your time. You look around. Make sure you are looking in your mirrors, at the crosswalks, at the cars. We get a lot of  ‘thumbs up’ and ‘good job!’ I like that. They’ll especially give that (thumbs up) to a woman driver, if we’re doing good.”

Kevin Kauer: Transit is for everyone, even people who are down and out.

The nice thing about being a bus driver is you get to see people and get them around to where they want to be,” Kevin says. “People will get on the bus and you can tell by their demeanor how poorly society has handled them. You make them feel like they are part of the community and a part of society when others have told them they are not. It is just how you smile, how you approach them. Or you may even say, ‘Don’t worry about the fare. Where are you heading?’”

Alexander Mahshi: The calming voice on light rail operators’ service radios

“I like to be in a supportive role.  As a person, it fits me. That’s our job as supervisors.” He worked previously for a beloved supervisor and tries to pattern himself after her. “I try to emulate her and another supervisor here who I look up to. He told me to keep my voice calm, even during tense situations. Our operators are depending on us to be calm.”

Jason Menne: The smile that greets you, the hands that help carry your groceries

I try to go above and beyond the call of duty,” Jason says. “If there is an older lady getting on with groceries, I’m going to take her groceries for her. I treat everybody like family. How would I want somebody to help my mom or dad if they were in a wheelchair? I think I bring a pleasurable ride to every passenger. When passengers think about me, I want them to smile. What we do here is wonderful. It’s helping people who truly need the help. I feel good when I go home. I did a good thing in my community. 

Nestor Ricardo Ocampo: The dancer who became a driver. Every day, it’s ‘Show Time, Folks!’

I was a dancer for 34 years around the world. I like people,” Nestor says. “In show business, you have to love people because they love you. I am not afraid to be loose and honest and free. When I drive a bus, it’s like the movie All That Jazz when they say, ‘Show time, folks!’ I’m the captain of the ship. I like to meet and greet passengers. I say, good morning, thank you for riding SacRT, have a great day and come back.” 

Salakchit ‘Joy’ Palavivatana: Known for her Thai curry chicken dish and her caring nature

“Every day is different. I get to see and talk to people. I have one family that rides with three kids. They’re going to school. I’m always looking forward to seeing them. They know me. They call my name. They are friendly and so nice.” (Once) she let them peer into the operator’s compartment (but not come inside). One of her work thrills: She once competed in a light rail train “rodeo” competition. 

Jesse Valenzuela: He loves teaching bus drivers how to bring their ‘A Game’ every day

We train all the bus operators. I enjoy working with people and developing people. It’s a privilege. You are teaching them a skill they can use to support themselves and their families. It is a joy being part of that. I try to push them to maintain a positive mindset. If you are having a bad day, that could be distracting and could take you off your A game. So it is important to maintain your positivity.”