CTA's Employee Of The Year More Than Just A Bus Driver

He drives a bus for a living, but Coast Transit Authority's "Employee of the Year" is much more than just a bus driver. His regular riders call him a caring friend. And his boss can list the good deeds he does away from the job.

Larry Baum wasn't looking for any special recognition. But he certainly deserves some. Baum is a person who loves coming to work.

"It is very important," Baum said.  "There's such a great need for these buses for the elderly and handicapped people. There's no telling how much they really need this. But it's a great need."

Larry Baum helps meet that "need" every day. He drives one of Coast Transit's "Special" buses. Baum transports senior citizens and disabled passengers wherever they need to go. To this driver, the work means more than just a steady paycheck.

"It's great," he said.  "This is one of the most rewarding jobs I've ever had in my life. I've had 32 years at the shipyard and before I came here I transported handicapped people and children in Bay St. Louis."

Baum experiences and appreciates the great need for this special service. Many of his regular riders have no other means of getting to doctor's appointments or other places.

"They are so special, these people. They don't have any other way. If we don't get them, they can't get to their doctor. They have families but those families are busy and can't help them out."

His boss says Baum deserves the recognition.

"Larry goes a little bit beyond the call of duty. He's always there. He even this year helped a needy family, several needy families, with clothes and things like that. So, he's more than a bus driver," CTA director Reid Hopper said.

Larry Baum stays on the go and on the road.

"This bus hardly stops unless it's picking somebody up or at a red light or a stop sign," Baum said.

Baum has no plans to retire anytime soon. He truly enjoys his job just that much.

"I just love it. I wouldn't have anything else but that now. As long as they'll have me, I'll have them."