Matt Berry and Shirley Grinde just love taking people for a ride.
It’s for that reason and their many years of dedicated service to public transportation the pair were recently recognized as BC Transit Superstars.
Berry, president of the Penticton Transit Services and Berry and Smith Trucking Ltd., also received the annual Mike Docherty Lifetime Achievement Award for his career of nearly four decades.
“It was very special to me. I don’t get a lot of awards in my life but certainly it’s a special thing whenever you get any kind of recognition. It means a lot,” said Berry, who plans to retire this year. “Honestly, we have a great group of people with our company. Our drivers, managers, mechanics and everybody is a big part of any award, so kudos to them.”
His favourite part of his job of 37 years?
“It’s the people for sure, everyday is a new experience, problem solving and the strong focus on customer service that our company strives really hard to do,” said Berry, whose son and nephew will soon take over the third-generation family company.
According to Stephen Anderson, BC Transit’s director of regional operations, Berry’s selection for the award was an easy choice.
“As a leader and an operational partner of ours at BC Transit, Matt’s been extremely tenacious and always been providing information and support, not just for his operation but he’s also sharing with the other operations we have throughout the province,” said Anderson, who has known Berry for over a decade. “As an active operating partner, I can’t ask for more.”
Grinde, who started with the HandyDART service in Penticton 18 years ago, took over as supervisor in 2015, overseeing the door-to-door transit for people unable to use fixed-route service without help.
Anderson also had high praise for Grinde, who was unable to attend the awards ceremony in Victoria.
“That’s an incredible job with a lot of pressure and a huge amount of responsibility and I am so happy for Shirley because that recognition (award) certainly made us stand up and applaud her in her absence,” said Anderson. “We certainly see her as the cornerstone of custom transit standards – not just herem but where it should be in 27 other systems."
The award came as a shock to Grinde.
“Never would I have ever dreamed that would happen to me, but wow, I am surprised and extremely grateful,” she said.
“I just love the people, the great team at Berry and Smith, but also, very much my riders. We get to know each other very well and being close to them (riders) means I understand what their needs are. Everyone has different personal wants and needs so it’s important for me to get to know them, they are much, much more than just a name on a computer.”
Mark Brett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Penticton Herald