Votran driver named state’s top operator of the year

Votran
PHOTO COURTESY OF VOTRAN
Evett “Doc” Wilson has been named the 2019 operator of the year by the Florida Public Transportation Association.

SPECIAL TO THE DAYTONA TIMES

One of the most decorated drivers in Votran history, Evett “Doc” Wilson, has been named Florida’s top operator of the year, one of seven awards recently racked up by Volusia County’s public transportation system. 

Among the other recent honors were maintenance director of the year, dispatcher/scheduler of the year and two marketing awards associated with Votran’s launch of a new bus route serving the State Road 44 corridor in the New Smyrna Beach area.

Votran also received the safety award of the year from the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged (CTD). 

Named the 2019 operator of the year by the Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA), Wilson has logged in excess of 3.5 million miles behind the wheel during his more than 42-year career as a Votran driver – remarkably going all of that time and distance without a single preventable accident. 

An example of leadership

Hired in March 1977, Wilson is considered a model of professionalism, dedication, safety and good cheer. This marks the second time that Wilson has earned statewide honors, having been previously selected as the Florida Transportation Association’s operator of the year in 2001. 

He also won safe driver awards from the National Safety Council in 2009, 2013 and 2018. 

“What sets him apart is his dedication to our culture of safety,” Votran Assistant General Manager Elizabeth Suchsland wrote in a letter to FPTA nominating Wilson for the statewide award.

“He sets a leadership example of excellence simply by the way he does his job.” 

Director of the year 

Votran also was recently presented with the CTD safety award of the year because of the implementation of safety, maintenance and training enhancements that have resulted in a 27.3% reduction in year-over-year road calls for Votran vehicles.

Also, a 66.7% reduction in payout of workers’ compensation claims and a 39.6% reduction in accidents involving new bus drivers.

For his part, Votran Director of Maintenance Rick Kazawitch was named by Metro Magazine as the transit maintenance director of the year in the under 500 vehicle category. 

A 38-year Votran veteran, Kazawitch oversees maintenance of a fleet that includes 82 fixed-route buses, 76 para-transit buses and 20 support vehicles. 

Winning bus campaign

Votran also snared marketing awards from FPTA for its roll-out of the new bus route – Route 44. 

Launched last year, the route connects the beach to residential, medical, shopping and entertainment venues in the New Smyrna Beach area. 

To help generate public awareness, Votran partnered with Volusia County Community Information on a marketing campaign dubbed “From the Shore to the Store, It’s Route 44.” 

The campaign, which included a bus wrap, mass mailers, informational handouts at the farmers’ market, community events, local organizations and lodging facilities, radio spots and a live broadcast from the bus, earned a second-place award in the advertising collateral category and a third-place award in the special events category. 

Other recent awards included: 

Tommie Robinson, Votran’s lead call center agent, was named dispatcher/scheduler of the year by CTD for his leadership, dependability and exceptional work ethic.

Votran was presented the top user of propane autogas award by the Propane Education & Research Council.

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