A Conversation with LRTA Bus Driver

Muon posed by a bus which parked at the front of LRTA office, across the street from Glory Buddhist Temple in Lowell. Photo by Khmer Post USA.

Sokhoeun Muon is 35 years old, born in Nashville, Tennessee. He moved to Lowell with his family when he was two years old. In 2012, he was introduced to the Lowell Regional Transit Authority by his older brother, who was working as a mechanic for the MBTA. Since then, Muon has become one of the valued bus drivers, according to the LRTA leadership. “Muon is very professional, loyal, dedicated, and committed to his professional driving day-in and day-out,” said George Annastas, General Manager of LRTA.

Muon’s daily routine is simple. He would wake up at 4 am for his shift which starts at 5 am. He follows the safety protocols, checking the tires, breaks, and lights. If all good, he picks his route and drives. Muon said, “as a senior driver, I get to pick my route when I don’t have to cover for someone who is out sick.” His work would end at 2 pm.

There are 57 full time bus drivers serving the greater Lowell region with a fleet of 50 buses and 20 routes. Its most senior driver, Mr. Bucky, has worked there since 1976.

Like other regional transit authority, LRTA is funded by federal, state and some local funding for the operating cost, making it affordable for citizens to take the bus at reduced cost, especially students and the elderly.

“Looking to the future, we are exploring both hybrid electric and electric buses. The LRTA is a big advocate for fuel efficiency and energy saving. Currently, we have three hybrid electric buses and our bus maintaining facility runs on solar energy,” said Annastas.

Soben Ung inspects the new LRTA bus with George Annastas, LRTA General Manager, and Sokhoeun Muon

The new government funding has allowed LRTA to get two brand new hybrid electric buses.

For Muon, he is simply happy to drive. “I like it because it’s like I’m working in a moving office” he said. “Every day, I see different people, I say hello to them, and on a nice day, I enjoy the beautiful weather,” he added. The starting rate is $20 per hour and goes up to $26.64 after two years, which adds up to about $56,000 annual salary with health insurance, life insurance and a 401k.

“Currently, there are two openings for bus drivers. We want to inform people that LRTA’s doors are open to the Asian community. People with commercial driver license are encouraged to apply,” said Annastas. For more information, visit www.lrta.com