Stories from the man behind the wheel: 41 year driver for CATA retires

Local News

State College, Pa- Steve Cohen sat behind the wheel of a CATA bus for more than four decades… nearly 42 years to be precise.

Cohen’s retired now, but WTAJ sat down to talk with the driver who spent a career viewing State College through a bus windshield.

Cohen had plenty of stories to tell… even the highlights reveal why he loved his job.

Before starting his bus route, Steve Cohen would inspect his bus for the day, take the driver’s seat, adjust the steering wheel, and focus on the road ahead.

He did this every workday since 1977.

“If you write the job description of a bus operator, it would appeal to me. I enjoy dealing with people, I enjoy getting to meet people once you get a regular route, you’ll have the same people riding day-to-day and you get to know them, and they get to know you. It’s an appealing part of the position,” Cohen said.

And Cohen’s really gotten to know his passengers.

“I’ve had times where I’ve been invited to dinner by a passenger who rides the bus, I’ve been invited to graduation parties. Those are enjoyable experiences for me,” he said.

While Cohen would never admit it, he was well known. His stories show how unforgettable he is to passengers… like the time he walked into a random Philadelphia convenience store.

“A women behind me asked if I used to have a pony-tail… which I did, and I said ‘yes’, and she said ‘I think you were my bus driver’,” Cohen remembered.

Then, the conveince store cashier said he remembered riding Cohen’s bus… because of the music.

“We used to have a cassette player on the bus, and he enjoyed the music that I played,” Cohen said.

His musical calling card at the time: rhythm and blues.

“To me, those are very little things, but to other people, they remember these things,” Cohen said.

He too remembers the little things passengers did for him.

“This one morning it was bitterly cold, and I was driving and a woman was getting off the bus and she gave me her scarf because she could tell I was freezing. That was a nice gesture that I still remember to this day,” Cohen said.

He says it’s the people he’ll miss most. Cohen will still be on CATA buses, but now he’ll be riding as a passenger.

“It will be a different feel… it will be nice to keep in touch with my co-workers. I will miss the day -to-day interaction with my brothers and sisters who are behind the wheel,” Cohen said.

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