Garry has a longer beard.
Larry has darker glasses.
That’s one way to tell the Westvang twins apart. They both stand 6-foot-3, but chances are you’ve only seen them sitting down on the job.
What’s up with that?
The brothers, 61, have been driving Everett Transit buses since the early 1980s. They both drive Monday through Thursday. Larry starts at 9:09 a.m. and Garry at 9:21 a.m. for 10-hour shifts.
Other than the facial wool, it’s hard for a novice to tell them apart.
“We’re not identical twins, medically speaking,” Garry said.
What? Are they sure about that?
“But to look at us, as you know… That’s the advantage of being twins. We get to screw with people,” said Garry. Or maybe it was Larry who said that.
“There’s people riding with us for years and never realized there were two of us, especially in the beginning when it seemed like we were there 24/7 because we were working different days off and different hours so it looked like we were there all the time.”
Garry is 15 minutes older and has been driving a bus two years longer. He started in 1980.
“It was my first real job available when I was making $3.25 an hour and trying to support a family,” Garry said.
Larry hired on in 1982.
“I was bartending. I applied for this and five or six other jobs with the city and they all called the same week and I decided this would be a good step-off job. I’d get in with the city and move onto something I want to do,” Larry said.
“So I’m going to make it a career now.”
Countered Garry: “Are you sure about that?”
When they started driving, the fare was 20 cents with an all-day pass for 40 cents and seniors rode free. Now it’s $1 and there are no transfers. Seniors pay 25 cents.
Of all the city bus drivers in the Everett Transit fleet, Garry is second in years driving and Larry ranks fourth.
The job never gets dull.
“I am still surprised every day,” Garry said. “I thought I’d seen it all by now and I haven’t. We drive the same places, day after day, but every day is completely different than the day before.”
“Things change the more they stay the same,” added Larry.
Their dad, Chuck Westvang, paved the way, starting as an Everett bus driver in 1972.
“For the last 46 consecutive years, there’s been a Westvang behind the wheel for Everett Transit. We have 98 cumulative years of driving. That’s close to 3 million miles driven,” Garry said.
That’s not including other relatives. Larry’s wife was a city paratransit driver for 26 years. His sister-in-law also drove for years and his brother-in-law still has a route.
The twins have an older and younger brother who aren’t bus drivers.
“They have dark hair and can’t grow a beard,” Larry said. “We had blond hair, back when we had hair.”
After graduating from Granite Falls High School, the twins both joined the Army.
“That was the real trip there. Same haircuts, same green uniform, same name on the green uniform,” Garry said. “People were completely confused.”
Do people get them mixed up now?
“Not so much anymore,” Larry said. “Happens every once in a while.”
“Yeah they do,” Garry said.
Are they sure they even know who’s who?
“I am really Garry and that would make him really Larry,” said you-know-who.
Here’s one way to tell Garry from Larry: For two weeks in December, he wears a Santa hat. Larry wouldn’t dare. Garry also strings ornaments in his beard. Larry doesn’t do bling.
Garry lives in Lake Stevens and Larry in Marysville. They sometimes get together to toss down a few beers. Larry likes craft brews and Garry is a Budweiser guy.
They don’t get recognized off the job.
“Most people have never seen me standing. They see me seated at the wheel,” Garry said.
They aren’t known as Garry and Larry.
“We get called ‘Bus Driver,’ ” Garry said. “Occasionally a ‘Mr. Bus Driver’ will sneak in there.”