One of the best parts of Robert Petrisko’s job at the Kingsport Area Transit Service is helping people reach their destination. Whether it be to the grocery store, the doctor’s office or to work, Petrisko plays an integral role in making sure passengers arrive at their destination in a timely manner.
Most times the job is routine, but one little quirk could throw the whole day off. And that’s where Petrisko shines – troubleshooting the issue and working through it.
Petrisko, who turns 40 later this year, began working for KATS in 2016 when he first came to Kingsport, starting out as a temp washing buses. Six months later, he was hired full time as a driver. In 2019, Petrisko was promoted to head dispatcher and then about a year ago was promoted to his current position as foreman.
“I run the day-to-day operations, I’m responsible for making sure the buses and vans are running on time, all of the scheduling for passengers and drivers and do the behind-the-wheel training,” Petrisko said. “If a bus breaks down in the middle of route, I’ve got to figure out how to get one out there and get the passengers picked up.”
Petrisko was born in New Orleans and has called many places home, including Chicago, Maine, Virginia, New Hampshire and Florida. For most of his life, he lived in Maryland and Vermont but about eight years ago, his journey brought him to Kingsport.
“My parents lived in Maryland, and they would come down here twice a year for the races. I loved Vermont, but the winters were too long, too cold and just miserable,” Petrisko said. “My parents then decided to move down here and I decided to come along.”
Transit systems across the country have faced a variety of challenges in recent years, from the COVID-19 pandemic to a lack of qualified drivers to acquiring parts and vehicles to operate in an efficient manner. Petrisko says he enjoys the problem solving challenges of his job and notes that every day is different than the one before.
“I can’t imagine someone talking me out of leaving KATS. I really enjoy working here with these people,” Petrisko said. “Not only did KATS Transit Coordinator Chris Campbell and KATS Superintendent Cindy Johnson see something in me, but whenever I wanted to learn something new, they’ve always been willing to help me.”
For more information about KATS, its routes and the services offered, please visit www.kingsporttransit.org.