A 3-million-mile journey wasn’t what Raul “Roy” Chapa had planned when he first got behind the wheel of VIA bus in 1979.
But when he retired on September 1, 2020, the milestone was among many accomplishments on his resumé during his 41-year career.
Earlier this year, the National Safety Council (NSC) recognized Mr. Chapa with an award for driving accident-free and incident-free while completing 3 million miles. He previously received awards for 1-million and 2-million miles the NSC.
“Blessed. That’s all I can say,” he said. “Just blessed that God put here in this place 41 years ago. To be honest I didn’t even want to be a bus operator. But looking back, it’s the greatest job I could have asked for.”
Mr. Chapa attributes his exemplary driving and “my squeaky-clean record” to a strong work ethic and methodical attention to detail.
He was just 20 years old in 1979 when he was convinced to apply for a position as a bus operator. From Day 1, he made it a mission to arrive to work early, respect his co-workers, and treat every passenger as a friend.
“I met so many people on my routes, that I just know God meant for us to cross paths,” he said, and got a little choked up. “I made so many friends over the years and some of those passengers who were kids at the time, have come back to let me know they’ve graduated from college and have professional careers. One young man is a lawyer, now.”
Mr. Chapa is the second driver in VIA history to reach the 3-million-mile mark. VIA operator Jesse Quintero reached 4-million miles during a 50-plus-year career at VIA and is still employed as a part-time driver.
A permanent display at the Texas Transportation Museum is being planned to commemorate Mr. Chapa’s extraordinary record of service. He says he is looking forward to spending time with Elia, his wife (pictured in the top photo with Chapa) who also retired in September, after 29 years at VIA.