“It’s really rewarding. That’s why I like this job,” said Karen Mullins, a Dispatcher in Rio Metro’s Sandoval County office, which provides door-to-door transportation service for seniors and individuals with disabilities in Rio Rancho.
Mullins joined the Rio Metro team more than two years ago. “I started here as an operator,” she said. “I came over from the public schools, where I was a school bus driver.”
Originally hired to drive, Mullins quickly transitioned into her current position as Dispatcher.
When asked what a regular day at work looks like for her, she replied, “What you would say we do is answer the phones and book the rides. But we are also a social connection. We work with seniors, and sometimes they don’t talk to anybody all day except for dispatch and drivers.”
One example she provided was of a regular passenger. “She has nobody to talk to. Sometimes she’ll call five to six times per day. Sometimes she forgets her times. I go the extra mile for her.
While she works primarily in dispatch, Mullins might still fill in for a bus operator from time-to-time. “I really do enjoy dispatching and talking to people. But I also don’t mind driving, because I like to see the faces of the people I talk to all the time.”
Although, according to Mullins, she hasn’t been called to operate in quite a while as bus capacities and riding behaviors have changed since the onset of COVID.
When asked what she likes most about her job, Mullins replied, “We help seniors with their independence. And it helps their families. At the end of the day, you feel like you did something good. You go home feeling fulfilled.”
She is also grateful to have continued to work through the pandemic. “I am so appreciative of this job and what they have done for us during COVID to keep us working and to keep our benefits. It’s awesome.”
When asked what lights her up, Mullins replied, “It’s my family. My kids, my husband, and my family.” At the time this article was written, Mullins was expecting her first grandchild in just two weeks, and was anxiously waiting for the moment to come. By the time it is published, that little grandbaby may have already been born.
Thank you, Karen, for all you do to keep us moving!
Transit Operator Appreciation Day 2021
Transit Operator Appreciation Day is March 18, 2021. Read the Transit Operator Appreciation Day blog post to learn more and meet all of our highlighted employees.