Oakland at Work: Driving a bus for AC Transit

Joyce Masih, a 16-year veteran of AC Transit, drives the 1R through Oakland each day.

The sky starts to lighten as Joyce Masih heads out to her bus. It’s just after 6 a.m. at the AC Transit bus yard in Hayward, and Masih is all smiles.

“I like driving the buses more than my own car,” the San Leandro resident said. “It makes me feel really, really excited, like a kid in the candy store. I get paid for having fun.”

Masih’s driven with AC Transit for 16 years. Over a year ago, she took on the 1R route, which starts in downtown Berkeley and winds through downtown Oakland to International Boulevard, notorious for crime and prostitution. It’s a tough area—she has a half dozen stories about homicides she’s seen from the bus, passengers who planned to commit crimes on her bus but were deterred by her unexpected kindness or lucky coincidences that got her out of the way. After these experiences, she “doesn’t too much care for Oakland,” but said she continues to drive this route because she wants to help residents get to where they need to go. Each day, she said she prays for herself, her family and her passengers.

“This route is good if you know how to deal with people,” she said. “If you’re nice to people, you won’t have any problems. But if you’re nasty and rude to passengers, you’re going to have a hard time out here.”

Off the bus, Masih enjoys bike riding, doing people’s hair and visiting family and friends. Another favorite hobby is taking long car drives—her favorite was a nine-hour trip to Las Vegas, NV for her daughter’s wedding.

One thing that most people don’t know about AC Transit drivers?

“Not all bus drivers that drive the bus are mean,” Masih said.

Picking up last year’s Oakland at work series, this video is the second of four that will document workers who physically keep the city running. Next week, we’ll meet an electrical line repairman who works in Oakland.

2 Comments

  1. MC

    Most AC Transit Bus drivers I’ve encountered are friendly and helpful. Much better than Muni drivers!! I really appreciate drivers like Joyce!

    • CP

      I have been a rider many times on her bus and she is terrific, friendly and positive to every rider boarding. I agree with previous poster that AC transit drivers set a high standard. With very few exceptions, AC drivers are the nicest most helpful people even with difficult passengers. It’s a tough job so let them know you appreciate their work.

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