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Employee Spotlight: 46 years of kindness behind the wheel

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Categories: Blog

Ned Rudolph smiling in a blue button down work shirt.Ned Rudolph has worked as a CATA bus operator for 46 years, serving passengers with a smile since 1978. He is a lot of different things to a lot of different people — dependable, charitable and kind to name a few — but the one thing he is to everyone is a friendly face.

“Ned is a kind soul,” said CATA Director of Operations Todd Brooks. “He wants to help you, whether he’s known you for one month or for 20 years.”

Beyond his penchant for kindness, Rudolph is an extraordinary bus operator with a career-long record of safe driving. His driving is so smooth, the only time he gets complaints from riders is when he’s on vacation and someone else is driving his route.

Rudolph grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, and served in the U.S. Army for three years in air defense. Following his time in the service, he found another way to serve his country — driving.

He began his career behind the wheel as a truck driver, becoming part of the backbone of American industry. But being part of a profession that transports 70% of all goods in the country can take its toll, and long nights away from home began to weigh on Rudolph. When a friend suggested he work locally at CATA, he soon found himself transporting people instead of products and never looked back.

For the past 20 years, Rudolph has driven Route 24, giving him a unique chance to build relationships with his riders. He knows most of them by name, which he believes is a key part of being a true bus driver.

“Anyone can drive a bus, but not everyone can be a bus driver,” said Rudolph. “There’s more to it than just turning the wheel.”

Rudolph’s passion for helping people extends beyond his passengers. He supports several charities, including the American Red Cross, Volunteers of America and Disabled American Veterans.

“I like helping,” said Rudolph. “I just love giving back to people.”

Even at 78, Rudolph sees little reason to retire. Staying busy is important, but more than that, he wants to continue helping people any way he can.

This content has been published in the 2024 Community Report.  

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