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NEWS | March 7, 2024

Longtime Shop 11/17 manager named 2023 Worker/Driver of the Year

By Ben Hutto, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs

Sam Pruiett, operation manager, Shop 11/17, Shipfitters, Forge, Sheet Metal, began driving a Worker/Driver bus for Kitsap Transit in 1994 to help get his fellow employees at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility to work safely.

In his 30 years behind the wheel, Pruiett estimates that he has driven more than 160,000 miles. Along those miles, he has made countless friends and acquaintances, and was even awarded the Washington State Insurance Transit Pool Safe Driving Award for 22 years of accident-free driving in 2017.

Earlier this month, Pruiett received another honor when he was named Kitsap Transit’s 2023 Worker/Driver of the Year. Pruiett was selected for the award by a vote of his peers. It’s an honor he is grateful for.

“Thirty-five years ago I drove (to work) for the first year, but another employee kept insisting I try (being a Worker/Driver),“ he said. “I was hooked. And the driver (who had) pestered me to be a driver was going to Japan and said ‘If you don’t drive the bus won’t run!’”

Pruiett’s passion to get his fellow PSNS & IMF workers to and from work safely is infectious and has even helped him recruit other workers to become Worker/Drivers. According to Pruiett, he has helped recruit 25 drivers since he started. While many have since retired, seven of the drivers he encouraged are still behind the wheel.

“It’s a good way to get paid to drive to work!” he joked.

Pruiett’s humor and dedication make him a favorite with his passengers. It’s the aspect he enjoys the most.

“Seriously, I like the riders,” he said. “Our bus has some pretty good conversations, and I get such a broad spectrum of folks that often we help each other in our work at PSNS. I have been blessed to know so many amazing people.”