Longtime drivers for Steamboat Springs Transit leave legacy for others to follow
City honors three drivers who put in thousands of hours on the road
Last week Steamboat Springs Transit held an end-of-season celebration in the parking lot of the Stock Bridge Transit Center, marking another successful season while bidding farewell to three longtime drivers.
Dependable, steady and dedicated were words that Transit Manager Jonathan Flint chose to describe Dave Lewis, Bob Printy and Rick Dewhirst, who have all decided to retire after long careers as bus drivers.
“We’ve got a good crew of drivers here now, and I think a lot of that is really due to the fact that they had these three guys to look up to,” Flint said.
Lewis, who became the first and only driver to surpass 40,000 hours behind the wheel, retired in the fall before the start of the winter season.
Dewhirst, who has over 21,000 hours, ended his 11-year career with SST in January. Printy, who had over 15,000 hours, retired last month.
“I think I read on the computer the other day that if you’re a student from kindergarten through 12th grade, that’s about 16,000 hours,” Printy said. “So it’s like I spent enough time to go all the way through school — from kindergarten into high school — driving.”
Printy said he has held a license to drive a bus since he was 18 years old, and he took a job driving buses in Steamboat Springs in 1994.
“In these cases, I’m very happy that they’ve been able to have a career here and retire. I wish them all the best in their new endeavors,” Flint said. “We’re definitely missing them here — and we are looking forward to whoever is going to take their place and try and fill their shoes — but those are some pretty big shoes to fill.”
Printy has held a number of different jobs over the years as he drove buses, and his work on school buses in other towns is not reflected in his Steamboat hours.
“I enjoy talking to the people and getting them around safely,” said Printy, who added that working for SST has been great. “I consider that a good job and have always considered myself an ambassador for Steamboat.”
Flint said Printy set a great example for younger drivers and was always there to offer advice when needed.
“Bob is probably one of the most gregarious, outgoing people that I’ve ever met,” Flint said. “I don’t think he has a single enemy in the world, and he is really good at being welcoming, friendly and outgoing.”
Dewhirst feels the bus system in Steamboat plays a critical role for residents and for visitors, and he is thrilled to be a part of that legacy.
“For some people, it’s their main mode of transportation. It’s how they get to work, do their grocery shopping and get around town. It serves a purpose where they’re concerned,” Dewhirst said. “Then when the population doubles in the wintertime, you really don’t need that many cars on the streets. We move a lot of people around the town without creating any more congestion.”
He added that the Steamboat drivers like to do the job with a smile, and most of them view their work as a way to spread the community’s Western hospitality.
“Rick was always just the super-steady, you-can-always count-on-him, even-keel driver, “ Flint said. “(He’s) just one of those guys that you could absolutely 100% count on … just a really hard worker that would go above and beyond.”
The last few years, Dewhirst was the dedicated paratransit driver, serving a vulnerable population that is often dependent on public transportation.
“Rick took care of those commuters,” Flint said.
Flint said Dewhirst developed friendships with his riders, which made him a popular SST fixture with those that he served.
Lewis was also a super dependable driver who made it a priority to take great care of his passengers, Flint said. In August 2021, Lewis was named the Colorado Operator of the Month.
“That honor is for all the drivers, train drivers and light rail drivers in the state of Colorado,” Flint said. “He’s humble about the honor, but it just speaks to the professionalism and outstanding job that he always did.”
Flint said these three men set the mark for those who will follow.
“Even though the three of them are no longer working here at SST, what they’ve contributed and that contribution still lingers here,” Flint said. “We’ve got another great group coming up the ranks, and I really appreciate what these three did to impart their knowledge to this next group.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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