Meet our Transit Operator of the Year: Mike Delia (or Mr. Boston)!
Mike’s passion for transit, his fellow operators, San Francisco, and the riders he takes around San Francisco is clear. Through life’s ups-and-downs, Mr. Boston, as he’s known by his riders, operates the F-line transit with a smile on his face and a custom-made Muni cap on his head. We’re honored to give him this year’s Operator of the Year award!
Mike Delia moved here for Muni. Really — he was a transit operator in Boston, Massachusetts, where he is originally from, but he wanted to “ride the old stuff.” And as an operator on the F-line, Mike gets to do just that.
But for Mike, or Mr. Boston as he is known by his riders, being a transit operator runs in the family. His father was an operator and he took Mike on the bus when he was just five years old. Mike then started driving transit as a way to put himself through college and knowing that Muni would give him the chance to operate various forms of old equipment, he applied to Muni.
“I’ve been in this business, you know, between Boston and here, about 18 years. It was always my dream to work in transit being an operator. I’ve always tried to be a good ambassador for the city and county of San Francisco. That’s what they stress to you when you first start this job. And so to be recognized for what I consider just doing my job day in and day out, trying to be, you know, a good representative for the city, I just feel incredibly honored,” Mike said to SFTR.
Mike has had the opportunity to meet some interesting people working on the F-line, which brings on board a variety of everyday commuters in the Upper Market region and visitors from all over the world. Mike has a calling card for all these riders — a baseball trading card, that he passes out to people, including tourists who’ve taken them home to Spain, Australia, Japan, and more.
“Just to be able to reach, to be able to touch people’s lives in a unique way like that,” Mike said of operating Muni. “I mean, that’s probably one of the greatest joys I get out of this work and in the equipment too. I love the equipment. So I’m definitely an old soul at heart. So operating stuff, you know, that dates back to the late ’20s and ’50s definitely puts me in a unique position.”
Through personal hardship — Mike is a two-time cancer survivor—and a global pandemic, Mike continues to work for his adopted city. And he has seen it all aboard his streetcar: people asking him to pose for pictures or take theirs, children wanting to ring the gong, a bride in her gown heading to City Hall, people doing laundry and every day chores, riders trying to get to work or head home. And Mike makes sure they get there — all while sharing his knowledge of SF when asked.
Mike likes to rock a special-ordered operators cap that is a nod to what Muni operators wore during the 1950s and ’60s. And in 2020, on Transit Driver Appreciation Day, he gave SFMTA’s some great advice for new operators:
“I say the key to a long rewarding career in transit relies on your patience, and kindness. Be firm, but also be willing to let little things go. Certain members of the public are going to try and get the best of you; don’t give them the satisfaction. We all have our moments — we’re all human — but keep control of the situation. Be patient with the new hires and passengers who require assistance. Know your rule book. It spells out what you can and cannot do and remember your training. Smile and be nice! It will take you a long way.”
As for the public, Mike wanted them to remember to “Be kind to your operator. Most of us are good people just trying to get you from point A to point B. And you work with us. We’ll work with you.”
So we’ll say it loud and clear: Thank you, Mike, and thank you to all our transit operators. We would be lost without you!