GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Elizabeth “Liz” McKinnon was honored at the Greensboro Transit Authority Board Meeting on Tuesday for her role in black history and continued service.
McKinnon was hired in 1981 by Duke Transit when the transportation system was owned by Duke Power. At only 22 years old, McKinnon became the first African-American female bus operator for Greensboro.
McKinnon was born in South Carolina but raised in Greensboro. She attended Dudley High School where she gained experience driving the school bus.
McKinnon said she knew at the time she was hired she would be the first and had so much support from peers and passengers.
“At least approximately half of the passengers that I transport are regulars and I have known a lot of them since I started driving,” McKinnon said.
Her first routes were along Friendly, Asheboro (which is now Martin Luther King Jr. Drive) and Irving Park.
Yet she recalls the challenges she faced early on in her career.
“I was running late and there was a large crowd of ladies who were waiting to go to work. When I pulled in to open to door, this one lady in particular, she hollered out and she said, 'I see why we're late, it’s a woman driving the bus.' And she thought it was very funny. Of course, at that time, it wasn’t funny to me. But I didn’t allow that to break me or deter me, I continued to speak and each day I had to interact with this particular lady and before long we became very good friends,” McKinnon said.
In her 35 years of service to the Greensboro community, covering all 16 routes, McKinnon focuses on building relationships with the passengers.
“Just being able to go out and serve, and know that I’ve been able to help someone and just a small thank you. Someone saying I really appreciate what you did, it’s like an inspiration to me. It encourages me to want to continue to do what I do each and every day,” McKinnon said.
McKinnon said that’s she humbled that GTA is honoring her service.