Community Shuttle Operator Mike Proudly Represents the Company

At 6 feet 4 inches tall, Community Shuttle Operator Mike Nancke stands out in a crowd. Approach him, and you’re drawn to his easy smile, soothing voice, and welcoming nature. Strike up a conversation, and you’ll quickly learn how very special Mike is.

On a bitter cold February morning in 2009, Mike lined up with thousands of other men and women at the Vancouver Convention Centre in the hopes of securing a job with Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC). The company operates 96 per cent of the region’s bus service.

At the time, he was scaling down production at his small laser printer service and repair company in Port Coquitlam and looking for part-time employment.

“CMBC was hiring in preparation for the upcoming 2010 Olympics, and I was interested,” says Mike.

Mike made it inside the building, went through the initial procedures for new Transit Operators, and received a call back.

“I went to [Vancouver Transit Centre bus depot] to do my trainability test and was told they were bringing me and another would-be Operator on a conventional bus to drive around.”

Because of his prosthetic leg, Mike quickly realized that driving a conventional bus might pose a challenge for him.

“Signals on the conventional buses are on the floor, operated by two little switches,” says Mike, “so I had to use my left foot to activate and deactivate it, sometimes using my hand to help move my leg. And, taking my hand away from the steering wheel was a bit problematic.”

Because of the safety concern, Mike was asked if he’d like to consider going to Community Shuttle instead. Confused, he asked his trainer what Community Shuttle was.

“I’d never heard of it before,” says Mike, laughing. “And with Community Shuttle, it’s like driving a regular car with the signals on the drive shaft, so maneuvering my leg didn’t come into play.”

Role at CMBC

“I consider that I am the face of the organization every day,” says Mike, reflecting on his career as a Community Shuttle Operator and Line Instructor at CMBC.

“You are what people see, know, and understand about the company. If you come across as confident, capable, and compassionate, then that reflects well on the entire system.”

In addition, Mike sees himself as a representative for people with disabilities.

Fitted with a prosthetic leg after being diagnosed with bone cancer (malignant osteosarcoma) in 2000, Mike leads an active life, facing challenges head-on.

“I’m an ambassador for CMBC as a disabled person,” he says. “The company put their trust in a disabled person to do this work, and that says something.”

Always focused on the customer, the ten-year veteran works hard so people see that he’s capable as an Operator.

“I don’t want people to think that I don’t know what I’m doing or that I don’t understand their needs as a passenger—getting to work, an appointment, or home to their kids,” says Mike. “They need this service and I want to provide the best I can. I make an effort every day. I understand my responsibilities, and I take them very seriously, as do all my co-workers.”

Paying It Forward

Well supported by his colleagues at the Port Coquitlam Transit Centre bus depot, Mike pays it forward by welcoming and mentoring new employees.

When asked by new recruits what advice he can impart, the Community Shuttle Operator keeps it simple:

“I tell new Operators that once the driving becomes instinctive, it’s about people. That becomes the biggest part of your job — helping people. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be.”

Mike smiles and adds, “Quite simply, I love my job.”


This piece originally appeared on Presidents Group member Translink’s Buzzer blog. It is shared with permission.