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The little bus that can!
For Clallam Transit System driver Bruce Monro, his daily Route 40 Sequim Shuttle isn't just a job, it's an extended family.
"They are pretty special people, it's a personable group. They don't have to tell me where they are going, I already know," he said.
Monro, 57, has been a Clallam Transit System bus driver for 23 years, including the past seven on the Sequim Shuttle.
He was a police officer in Hawaii for five years and in Sequim for five years before retiring. He also teaches the senior fitness class at the Clallam County Family YMCA in Port Angeles.
The Route 40 Sequim Shuttle runs a continuous 30-minute loop from the Sequim Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St., to Prairie Street and Sunnyside Avenue, then past Bell Creek Plaza, Carrie Blake Park and the Sequim Library.
Next, it heads up to Old Olympic Highway and turns onto Fifth Avenue and goes to Prairie Street. Then it turns at Seventh Avenue and again at Spruce Street, onto Fifth Avenue and Bell Street to return to the Transit Center.
In addition to the library and SARC, it also passes many grocery and retail stores, the Olympic Medical Center campus and other medical offices, even a laundromat.
10 laps of 6.3 miles
"I do 10 laps of 6.3 miles and then out to Diamond Point at 5 p.m. So most (Clallam Transit) drivers don't usually pick this route," Monro said.
He picks up all his passengers with a friendly greeting that almost always includes their name.
Then he drops them off with a genuine, "Thanks for coming out. Take care."
He's even been known to stop the bus for a mother duck and her three ducklings trying to cross Blake Avenue by Carrie Blake Park.
Most of Monro's riders are seniors or people going to medical appointments or running errands.
But the route also serves as a social outlet for the many regulars who use it to get around town.
"It's sometimes full, sometimes not. It depends on the time of the month, whether it's payday, doctors' appointments, the weather," Monro said.
Monro greets 86-year-old Harry Thompson with "Hello Harry. How are you doing?"
Thompson, 86, is retired and has lived here "quite a while." He used to live in Port Angeles but moved to Sequim because he can't live alone.
He walks with a large wooden cane inscribed with his name, so bending over to retie his shoes sometimes can be difficult - Monro helps him out.
"It's been really great for me. I couldn't get around without it," Thompson said.
"I don't want to take chances driving, so I can't get around otherwise. I can go anywhere I want to."
Her lifeline to the world
Another of the route's frequent riders is 62-year-old Isabeau LeChevalier, who moved to Sequim from northern Idaho in September.
The shuttle is her lifeline to the outside world. She rides it three or four times a week to doctor's appointments, the library, the thrift store, the grocery store and other errands.
LeChevalier also uses the route to visit her friend at the bottom of the Diamond Point hill, something she couldn't do on her own.
"I couldn't get around without this route. I don't drive and I'm on a fixed income," she said.
Beth Winslow, who moved to Sequim four years ago from New Orleans, also depends upon the shuttle to get around.
"The bus is the reason I sold my truck and car," she said.
Winslow is accustomed to taking the bus.
She grew up with a "fantastic" mass transit in New Orleans, which her aunt would use to "ship her out" to her aunt's sugar plantation when she was misbehaving.
Irene Kubala, 83, moved here in August from Cincinnati.
She came because of her daughter but also checked out the bus system beforehand since she doesn't drive.
"It's wonderful," Kubala said.
Shirley Zaretsky, 65, has been here almost two years and depends upon the route so much that if it ran on Sundays, she'd use it then, too.
Not all Monro's passengers are elderly, though.
Kari Ault, 30, rides the bus several times a day.
She uses it to take her 4-year-old daughter Chloe to and from the Head Start-
Sequim Child Care Services, 220 W. Alder St., as well as to the grocery store and library.
"I ride it all the time. It takes me everywhere I need to go," she said.
"It's friendly, the people love it. It's our meeting place. The driver knows all our names."
Reach Brian Gawley at bgawley@sequimgazette. com.