Al Roker Visits Zerega Bus Training Facility
NBC Today Show personality Al Roker visited MTA New York City Transit’s Zerega Bus Maintenance and Training Facility to relive his father's days behind the wheel of a NYCT bus. His day at Zerega aired on the Today Show as a special Father’s Day tribute.
While at Zerega, he experienced how today's bus operators are taught the demanding job of driving a bus through New York City Streets, interviewed a veteran bus operator from Brooklyn and was introduced to the Department of Buses’ Chris Lake and Wayne Galante, two Transit employees who worked with his father during his days at Transit.
During his visit, he also sat down with Jackie Gleason Operator Frank Mariano who showed Roker just how far transit bus technology has come since the days his father was behind the wheel. "Buses have come a long way over the years and our current fleet is safe, efficient and environmentally clean," Frank explained to Roker, who got a refresher course in 1950s bus technology as the two were taken for a quick ride around the block by Zerega shifter Angel Arroyo in vintage bus 2969-the Jackie Gleason Bus, which is now old enough to collect social security.
Roker had a chance to compare the "Jackie Gleason" bus with one of our latest low-floor, clean fuel buses with Mariano pointing out the latest bus operator security features, shields and cameras, the wheelchair ramp and tie-down locations.
Roker's father was assigned to the old Fifth Ave. Depot, serving as a bus operator from 1959 to 1971 and some of Al’s fondest memories are of riding along the Brooklyn routes with his father. "My younger brother spent time with our dad after he began working in an office, but I had the opportunity to go out with him as he drove his route. I’m sure that my experiences were more fun,” Roker explained to Mariano as the two shared experiences while riding 2969.
From there, Al was taken up to the second floor where he was introduced to Vicki Jones, Director of Training who guided him through a session on the bus operator simulator. Jones was impressed with the driving skill shown by the first-timer. “After the first time he actually did pretty well,” said Jones. “He completed two nice turns, monitored his mirrors and did everything properly. So all in all, I would love having him on my training bus.”