MTA New York City Transit Bus Operator Earns Coveted Public Service Award

Jefrick Dean is an MTA bus operator, an iconic New York City job that he performs with pride, dedication, dignity and an unswerving concern for his customers and fellow workers.

His more than two decades of outstanding public service is being recognized with a Sloan Public Service Award, presented each year to six worthy New Yorkers by the Fund for the City of New York.

Over the years, bus customers have shown their appreciation of Mr. Dean's dedication to his job by either writing or phoning in 132 unsolicited commendations. To put that into perspective, very few bus operators accumulate more than a dozen in a career, and sending one means that the customer was moved enough to take the time and effort to relate a positive experience about an employee.

"Jefrick Dean embodies the true spirit of what it means to serve the public," MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota said. "I would like to congratulate Mr. Dean for receiving the Sloan Award that acknowledges what we have known all along -; Mr. Dean has selflessly gone above and beyond the call of duty to put the needs of his customers first."

"The Sloan Public Service Award is a tremendous honor for Bus Operator Dean and for NYC Transit," said agency President Thomas F. Prendergast. "Bus operators are required to be patient, courteous and cheerful to hundreds of customers each day while piloting a 40-foot vehicle through one of the most congested cities in the world. The presentation of this award demonstrates that Bus Operator Dean has been consistently excellent over the course of the past two decades."

"Jefrick has demonstrated time and time again that he cares deeply for both his customers and his fellow employees," said Darryl Irick, President of the MTA Bus Company and Senior Vice President of NYC Transit's Department of Buses. "A lot is asked of a bus operator. The job requires one to be skilled driver, have patience, maintain a courteous attitude and sometimes even be an amateur psychologist."

Since joining NYC Transit in 1990, Dean has been assigned to the East New York Depot, just a short bus ride from his home in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, where he graduated from Boys and Girls High School. Born in Washington, D.C., Dean moved to Brooklyn with his parents when he was six and has been a borough resident ever since.

After graduating from Boys and Girls High School in 1979, Dean worked at several different jobs before taking the bus operator/subway conductor civil service exam and being offered a job with NYC Transit. Initially, he says, he wanted to be a subway conductor because "I wanted to get away from driving," but the position of bus operator became available first. "It was probably for the best," he added. "I do like being out in the open." He felt daunted, however, on his first route, from Brooklyn to Castleton, in the northeastern section of Staten Island; he was shy and the borough was unknown territory. "I remember looking in the rearview mirror. I saw all those people and said to myself, ‘I don't think I can do this.'" But little by little he discovered that he could not only do it, but thrive on it.

Deeply religious, Dean was a much-needed pillar of emotional strength and support following the December 2008 murder of fellow bus operator Edwin Thomas, who was killed by a farebeating passenger. "It was really difficult for people to go to work and drive buses," said Stephen Vidal, Vice President and Chief Officer of Training and Operations Performance at the Department of Buses (also a Sloan Award winner). "Jefrick was the rock that everybody relied on to get us through the grieving period. From the first day, he was the person everybody migrated to."

Over the past 22 years, Dean, 51, has driven every route assigned to the East New York Depot. On his current route, the B25, he drives from the depot to downtown Brooklyn eight times a day.

Dean actually became an ordained minister about six years ago, and serves on weekends at a nondenominational church in Hempstead, Long Island, where he says his favorite duty is helping with the food pantry on Saturdays. Recently, however, he hasn't had much opportunity to do that. About six months ago, his mother, who had moved back to the Washington, D.C., area, became extremely ill. While she is recovering, Dean travels south most weekends to visit her.

The award was presented at the East New York Depot during a Wednesday morning ceremony attended by Transit officials, and Dean's co-workers.