The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Sheila Neville retires after 20 years of service to community as transit operator

Newly retired Chapel Hill Transit bus operator Sheila Neville poses for a portrait on Wednesday, April 5, 2023. After twenty years of driving, Sheila looks forward to fixing up a new home and traveling.

After two decades of service, Senior Transit Operator Sheila Neville retired from Chapel Hill Transit on March 31.

And according to Brian Litchfield, the director for CHT, Neville valued her job's significance.  

“She was just there to serve the community and help folks get to where they needed to go and was willing to be patient with folks and answer questions," he said.

Neville was a CHT leader for a decade, including eight years as the chairperson of the transit employee forum — a team that works to identify challenges or issues that CHT employees might face in their daily work. 

She explained that the forum prioritized making the jobs of transit employees easier, often serving as a  mediator for issues with CHT employees and management.

“She would listen to the concerns and worries and fears and challenges that her fellow operators were experiencing,” Litchfield said. 

During Neville’s time as the chairperson, Litchfield said the two were able to work together and accomplish many things. He said Neville was active in working to support pay adjustments for frontline operators and mechanics.

As an operator, Neville said her day typically started at 5:25 a.m., and she drove the S route until 2 p.m. 

“It was by the grace of God that I was able to drive for 20 years without having an accident,” Neville said. “It wasn't always easy, but you have to drive for yourself and the other people, too. You just had to keep your head on a swivel watching everything and just pray you get through the day without an accident.” 

Litchfield said a safe driving record of over 20 years of driving is an outstanding and uncommon accomplishment for a transit operator. 

He added that Neville’s customer service skills were excellent. Neville said she enjoyed getting to know community members and passengers who rode on the buses she operated. 

It was a good part of her day when her regular passengers got on the bus and talked about schoolwork and family, she said.

Neville also served as a mentor to other transit operators. She said she would tell new employees to take it one day at a time. 

"I said 'Everybody started right where you are. Nobody came in knowing everything, knowing all the routes,'" she said. 

Neville said that, in her retirement, she and her husband will work to restore their home. She is also looking forward to traveling and spending more time with friends and family.

Litchfield explained that, in searching for Neville's replacement, it will be difficult to find someone as experienced and trustworthy.

“We're hoping that we're able to find and develop somebody that would have a similar skill set and have a similar successful career with us, but that's, again, not always easy to do,” Litchfield said. 

One of Neville’s long-time co-workers Amy Edwards said she and Neville started working at CHT at the same time. She said she and Neville "bonded like sisters" while in class for their positions. 

Edwards is a retired bus driver but still returns to CHT to help out when needed. She said she hopes Neville will also return to help at CHT. 

“We all are just like a big happy family — the ones that came in around our time, and there's only a few of us left. So I'm hoping that she'll be able to come back and spend some more time with us,” Edwards said. 


To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

@DTHCityState | 

Special Print Edition
The Daily Tar Heel's 2023 Year in Review Issue

More in Business

More in City & County

More in The OC Report

More in City & State

More in University

More in Chapel Hill