The Metrobus trip Lucia Vejarano took to North Bethesda came close to being one of the most expensive rides in local transit history. Thanks to bus driver Sidney Brown, it didn't turn out that way.

Vejarano arrived Tuesday at National Airport from Bogota, Colombia, on her way to the National Institutes of Health for treatment of a brain tumor. Taking Metro, the last leg of her trip was on a Route E bus that goes up Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda, stopping at NIH.

After she checked in, she realized she had left her purse -- containing medicine and $1,900 cash in $20 bills -- on the bus seat. NIH nurse Lucille Watson reported the loss to Metro transit police.

Meantime, reported Francis P. Cawood, assistant superintendent of the Metrobus Northern Division, a passenger on the bus saw the purse and gave it to driver Brown. When he returned to the garage, Brown turned it in.

Cawood, noting the wad of bills, called Metro's central dispatcher and was told that transit police were looking for the purse. Based on a telephoned description and an identification card, Cawood said, "It was the one we had." It was returned to the owner.

Metro spokesman Cody Pfanstiehl said Brown was given a $100 reward.