Maurine Hull, a Utah Transit Authority trolley bus driver, helps brighten downtown Salt Lake City with her sparkling smile, friendly charm and happy disposition.
Hull started working for the UTA eight years ago and has driven most of the bus routes in the Salt Lake Valley, including the ski bus routes. She has been a trolley bus driver for the past two years, driving between the downtown hotel and shopping area and Trolley Square, a 45-minute round trip. Her route goes from Seventh East to Second West and from Sixth South to North Temple."I love my job. It is more like play than work," she said. "There are always problems with any job, and I have my share of drunks and troublemakers, but for the most part this job is a dream for me."
She drives 40 hours a week for the UTA, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Crowds don't bother her and neither does bad weather, she said.
"It is really fun to drive a trolley. They are beautiful, with all their polished oak, leather straps and shining brass. In the summer, the glass at the front and back of the trolley is removed and the sun shines in all day - when it is sunny. Otherwise, it rains in a bit, but I don't mind. It is fun."
She is as adept at handling drunks as she is in fielding questions about Salt Lake City from tourists, especially those from Europe and Asia who know little or nothing about Salt Lake City.
Some of the questions she is most frequently asked by tourist are: Why is the city called Salt Lake City? (She tells them to take a ride west to see the grand salty lake). What are Mormons? (She sends them to Temple Square and the Visitors Center).
"Tourists are always impressed by how clean Salt Lake City is," she said. "And if we go by the LDS Temple when a marriage party is outside being photographed, I always get a lot of questions and people often ask me to stop for a moment to watch the couples, and I do if I can find a place to stop for a moment."
Some of the eight trolleys owned by the UTA (three operate daily) are equipped with tape recorders and taped messages about Salt Lake City. All of the trolleys have public address systems. "If I happen to have a trolley without a tape player, I often give my passengers a running account of what is where in the city as we go by, especially when I am crowded with a tour group or large family of out-of-towners."
How does she handle drunks? "Carefully. Not long ago I had one standing on a downtown corner, barely able to stand. I saw him half a block away and watched him out of the corner of my eye, and I knew he was trouble.
"I had quite a few people on my trolley, and I dreaded him getting on. I could imagine him fumbling for money and for a seat, and I could see him making a big mess, so when I stopped at the corner and he started to crawl aboard I told him: `This is a tour, sorry. He didn't bat an eye, just sort of collapsed back off the first step of the trolley and onto the sidewalk again and then turned away.
"He wasn't a bit unhappy and neither was I," she said.
Hull has worked most of her life. She said she started picking vegetables on local farms to get spending money when she was a little girl. A 1947 graduate of Granite High School, she studied nursing at the University of Utah and worked in the old county hospital for many years.
After she and her husband, Donald, were married (they have three boys and two girls) she managed a downtown restaurant at 2221/2 S. Main for 13 years. "When the Main Street beautification program started and the streets and sidewalks were torn up, business fell off drastically, so I closed the restaurant and started driving a bus."
Not only a happy driver, Hull is a safe one, too. She recently received an award for driving four years without even the slightest accident.
"The $1 all-day bus ride pass is the best buy in America," she said. "You can ride all day anywhere between Ogden and Salt Lake City and, for a little extra, you can go from Ogden to Provo."
Does she mind driving the trolley in the winter? "After two years on the ski run? Are you kidding? I love to drive in downtown Salt Lake City in the winter - it is all flat, no hills. It's great."