Employee Q&A: CatTran Driver Mary Lor
Cat Tran Driver, Parking and Transportation Services
Number of years at the UA
Favorite part about working at the UA
"The students, and just being on campus. There's always something new, and there are so many interesting things going on."
Driving on or around The University of Arizona campus is no easy task, particularly during the school year when traffic is heavy and pedestrians fill the streets in droves. So for the brave drivers who keep the University's CatTran shuttles on schedule, patience, a positive attitude and some serious defensive driving skills are must-haves.
Lo Que Pasa sat down with CatTran driver Mary Lor, who also volunteers as a driver for the Old Pueblo Trolley between Fourth Avenue and University Boulevard, to chat about her experiences behind the wheel in one of the busiest areas of Tucson.
How did you become a Cat Tran driver?
I have a tendency to follow my kids wherever they go. I was an Amphitheatere school bus driver when they were going to Amphi schools, and then I moved on to the CatTran when they started college.
How is driving for the University different from driving for the school district?
Going from school bus to college students is a big leap. On a school bus, you never get a thank you. You get hit with candy in the back of your head. There are water balloons going out the window. It was really a nightmare. With this (job), it's always a pleasure; it's no more abuse.
Do you have a favorite place to drive on campus?
(The) orange (route) is a favorite. It goes up Mountain, so the road is nice and smooth.
What's the most challenging part of your job?
Probably the congestion. A couple of times a day it seems like every class on campus has let out. That makes it exciting.
How do you keep your cool when traffic gets bad, and do you have any tips for dealing with road rage?
Just pleasant music and taking a deep breath, trying to focus on what you want to happen and not letting it get to you. Symphony music is always nice. I like to listen to KXCI .... (For road rage) just back off, do not contribute to it, try to avoid it as much as possible, get a license plate number, do not confront the person.
Have you had any memorable experiences with your CatTran passengers?
One cold winter morning, we were coming down Mountain and we had quite a few people on board; it was standing room only, and a girl managed to slip, on one of the last stops, in between my seat and the barrier. She was so thin that she wedged in there. I didn't even notice she was there. Then we were stopped and all of a sudden her head came down over my shoulder. I thought she was gong to ask me a question, but she had passed out. We stopped and got her off, radioed it in and waited for the paramedics. She had fainted. She was ok, but it was out of the blue.
You also drive the Old Pueblo Trolley?
Yeah I do that every Sunday from 12 to 3, and I'm also the volunteer coordinator. We have once-a-month orientations at the Fourth Avenue Merchants' Association, and we have a presentation on the past, present and future of the trolley. It's been a really exciting, fun experience. I had a CDL (commercial driver's license) so I thought it would be something I could do to contribute to my community.
So you must really like driving.
I really do. It gets me out and about, and it's something new every day. I like to just be out there, seeing what's going on. I feel connected to all these different activities, and it's fun.
Do you have any hobbies off the road?
I'm a member of the Tucson Handweavers and Spinners Guild; that's a great resource for anybody who's interested in knitting or making anything from fiber. I do some gardening, grow my own lettuce in the winter, and I've got some squash and tomatoes and some herbs growing right now.
You also bike?
Yeah, I ride my bike to work (the CatTran depot on South Plumer Avenue, south of Broadway). I live near Prince and Campbell, so it's about a half an hour every day. It's nice just to get away from driving after driving all day. Our family also participates in El tour de Tucson. We ride bike patrol and assist the riders who are riding to race.
Have you ever gotten a traffic ticket?
I think I might have gotten a warning when I was a kid, but no tickets, knock on wood.
What's your biggest pet peeve with other drivers?
Cell phone texting has got to be the worst. They're not even looking at the road.
What's your dream car?
My dream car is a personal flying device. It wouldn't go too high, just kind of hover not much higher than a telephone wire.