UCSF Shuttle Driver Greg Valentine is a “People Person”

Published on March 30, 2015


Whether he’s driving a shuttle for UCSF or leading his congregation at St. Paul Tabernacle Baptist Church in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood, Greg Valentine is focused on helping people.

Valentine’s outlook on life comes from a serious test of his faith when he suffered a pair of strokes in 2007. “They left me in a wheelchair, unable to see or talk,” he said. It was at that point in his life that the former Golden Gloves boxer and high school wrestler knew he was in for a different kind of fight. “It was a long road back but today I’m just grateful to be alive.”

Born and raised in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, Valentine was also tested professionally when he lost a job with Wonder Bread after 14 years. “I started working at the company as a delivery driver and worked my way up to a regional sales manager,” he said. “When Wonder Bread went bankrupt, I was one of 18,000 employees who lost jobs.”

He worked briefly as a delivery driver for Calistoga water before a friend suggested he apply for a job at San Francisco Paratransit. “I really enjoyed meeting my clients, many who were senior and disabled,” he said. “I learned quickly that they may not see anyone all day except for me or another driver and they were thrilled to have someone to talk to.”

Several years ago, Valentine received a job offer at UCSF and he had a tough choice to make. “Leaving my Paratransit customers was difficult. When I left, I had customers tell me they were going to call and check up on me. I didn’t believe them but I still have former customers who call me weekly.”

Today, Valentine brings the same care to his UCSF passengers as he does with his congregation of 125 at church. “Many of the people in my congregation are seniors. We hand out food at the local food bank and provide clothes for people who need it. We also collect money for a fund to send local kids to college. We’re serving our friends and neighbors in the Bayview.”

Valentine has made a good impression at UCSF. “He’s a very strong man, not only physically, but in faith and character as well,” said coworker Nelson Lum, Parking Supervisor at Transportation Services. Raymond Yip, Interim Shuttle Supervisor said Valentine has a can-do attitude. “He’s always punctual and takes great pride in his work.”

While he’s experienced, Valentine said driving a bus through San Francisco is a challenge. “There are always surprises,” he said. “You’ll have an Uber driver pull out in front of you and stop for a passenger. With taxis, you can anticipate that but Ubers are essentially unmarked cars so it’s difficult to anticipate their quick stops.”

In most San Francisco neighborhoods, the posted speed limit is 25 to 30 miles per hour. “I usually drive about five miles less than the posted speed limit because our buses don’t stop quickly. I understand that passengers can get a little antsy because we’re not going as fast as the posted speed limit but it’s hard to see pedestrians, bikes, and other cars. Safety is always our top priority.”