Sandra Hewitt. (Phil McLachlan, Kelowna Capital News)

Sandra Hewitt. (Phil McLachlan, Kelowna Capital News)

Seven years being the wheel of a Kelowna transit bus and loving it

Sandra Hewitt drives HandyDART

In this edition of Women in Business, women were interviewed who are employed in typically male-dominated industries or in a position that was historically filled by a man.

These women share their stories of being underrepresented in their field and leadership roles – in the hope that their perseverance and success become the guiding light for the next generation of women in business, so they continue to break glass ceilings and meet their goals.

Women in Business shows who the movers and the shakers are in Kelowna and that there is always a space to share stories of successful women.

Sandra Hewitt has always had the nurturing ability to be responsible for the safety of others; from running a daycare for 23 years to now sitting behind the wheel of a BC Transit bus.

She has spent the last seven years being devoted to driving the HandyDART from Lake Country to Peachland, helping those with disabilities or who cannot use fixed-route transit without the assistance of someone else.

“I needed a change and I absolutely love it,” she said.

Hewitt’s husband works for BC Transit and encouraged her to take on a new path and a new skill set – driving a mini-bus.

She admits it was intimidating to step out of her comfort zone and get behind the wheel of a bus.

“Once I got my license, I also got support from BC Transit workers and trainers and I fell in love with the job very quickly,” said Hewitt. “You are continually helping people and I think it lends to that nurturing aspect of women.”

Hewlett says there is a sense of responsibility ensuring that those who need assistance can be picked up at their door and dropped off where they need to be.

“If we didn’t do this job, these people wouldn’t get to go to the places they need to be. We offer this door-to-door service,” she said. “And, if you ask me HandyDART is the best-kept secret in town.”

Being the driver of a bus that takes a particular route each day, Hewitt has got to know her passengers well over the years. She has seen seniors create lasting friendships, those with disabilities grow and taken on new challenges and heard touching stories from people’s past.

“With the pandemic, ridership has been down a lot, but I recently picked up a senior lady and she got on the bus, looking around all wide-eyed. Through our conversation, it came out that she hadn’t been out of her house in four months and she was looking around as if everything was brand new. For me to be apart of that and that I was able to take her somewhere, was special,” described Hewitt.

However, driving a bus does have its qualms. Hewitt said she has been faced with criticism over her driving just based on the fact she is a woman. However, she says she takes it in stride and every time she arrives at a destination those who may have questioned her are surprised to see how well she has handled the bus on the road.

There are just a few female city bus drivers in Kelowna and one female mechanic working for BC Transit, however, Hewitt says getting behind the wheel of a large vehicle isn’t exactly a role women dominate in.

“If we could get more women to come to do this job, it would be amazing,” she said.

Hewitt believes that it could be the intimidation factor of driving a bus, from busy highway traffic to maneuvering tight spaces, that is something women fear.

“I discovered a new-found confidence in myself, that I didn’t know I had, once I learned how to drive the bus,” she explained. “I look at my granddaughters and if they can see that grandma can do this at my age, I can turn things around and go from one career to another that I love, then they can go for anything.”


@Jen_zee
jen.zielinski@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

women in business

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Patios, retail shops to expand outdoor spaces in West Kelowna (PHOTO: The City of West Kelowna).
West Kelowna allows expanded patios, retail spaces

West Kelowna allows businesses to expand outdoor service areas due to pandemic restrictions

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Kate Budau’s flat tire outside of Glenmore Elementary School on Monday. (Contributed)
Kelowna mom searches for Good Samaritans who helped her change a tire

Woman looking for two dads who helped her after her tire popped in the Glenmore Elementary School drop-off area on Monday

John Wekking, Merritt Road Report - Facebook
 Coquihalla Road Report
Wildfire sparks off Coquihalla in Merritt

The wildfire is located near the Dollarama off of Highway 5

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
67 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty people in the region are hospitalized with the virus, 11 of whom are intensive care

Volunteers at the West Kelowna Salvation Army were celebrated with a special treat on Monday. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Central Okanagan community organizations celebrate volunteers

It’s Volunteer Appreciation Week and non-profits are highlighting the people who put in the work

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Lumby resident Dan Hill was at Vernon’s Polson Park to celebrate 4-20 by giving away free marijuana joints to people of age April 20, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
North Okanagan man back with free joints, cupcakes on 4-20

Dan Hill is trying to help people of age relax during a stressful April with marijuana giveaway

A lit cigarette tossed from a passing car is believed to be the cause of a grass fire which was only held to a ditch by the quick action of passersby in Salmon Arm on April 19. (Pixabay image)
Passersby fight Salmon Arm roadside grass fire believed started by flicked cigarette

Dry conditions prompt warning from resident, fire department

Most Read