Here’s a well-kept secret: The regional GRTC Transit System is among the most progressive organizations in Richmond. The nonprofit plays a major role in reducing pollution, easing traffic congestion and connecting people to jobs. Its reform-minded leadership is eager to play a larger role. Its unionized bus drivers, which included some of the first waves of black and female drivers, help hold it all together.

And those drivers love their jobs — to a degree unusual for workers in any profession. That’s what I learned through interviews with 16 current and former drivers this summer for an exhibition at the Richmond Street Art Festival, which opens today. Bruce Korusek, who has an amazing collection of GRTC photos and ephemera, took his first bus picture at age 5. Leslie Zink used to pretend as a child to be a bus driver picking up passengers on her bike. “I love to drive,” KaSandra Ellis says. “So, this job was perfect for me. Because I’ll drive from here to Timbuktu.”

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Copyright © 2013 Style Weekly. This article first appeared in Style Weekly (2013), 1-3.

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