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Posts in Category: Know Your Operator

Know Your Operator

Know Your Operator: Duane Moore 

Posted by johnkomarek | Saturday, November 10, 2018 1:51:00 PM

Duane Moore #9045 drives four and six wheels for work, but he rides two wheels everywhere else.Twenty-eight years ago, Duane Moore decided he wanted to upgrade his career.

As a young man working at a local grocery store, he had had enough of working long hours on his feet all day.

He came across an advertisement for drivers at Metro Transit and chose to apply. Today, he’s a Garage Instructor, but like some other applicants, he didn’t pass the course the first time around.

“A lot of people don’t understand that it’s not easy to get this job,” Moore said. “The process is important. It’s how we make sure there’s qualified operators on the road.”

He took not passing the first round in stride and came back ready to prove he was qualified. It’s one of many lessons he can teach the next generation of operators as they take their first routes.

“When I started, the buses didn’t even have power steering,” Moore said. “Even then, I enjoyed being the captain on board a big bus.”

He’s had plenty of experience and new operators will notice his arm replete with 25-plus years of service awards.

“Every five years, you gain a lot from experience on the road,” Moore said. “Some things you learn in a classroom, others from your co-workers, and others from experience.”

In the classroom, he tailors his lessons to help meet the needs of each operator. He finds they all have different strengths and different questions.

After 28 years of service and counting, Moore still finds himself thinking, “This job is worth it.”

Operator at a Glance: Duane Moore

  • Hired: 1990
  • Routes: Serves various routes as an extraboard operator
  • Garage: Heywood
  • Family: Wife and three children. The kids have moved out, but if you ask him, his German Shepard named “King” is now his stay-at-home kid.
  • Lives: Minneapolis

Hobbies: Motorcycling, boating, traveling and being with family.

Accomplishment: 25 year (and counting) safe operator

Memorable trip: 1,200 miles roundtrip on his Indian motorcycle to the National Biker Roundup in Springfield, Ill., to celebrate with 90,000 other riders.

Best Advice: No matter what happens, remember to take it slow and take it easy.

Know Your Operator

Know Your Operator: Julie Trosen  

Posted by johnkomarek | Monday, October 08, 2018 2:05:00 PM

For twelve years, Julie Trosen drove school buses, but then she upgraded her career at Metro Transit. And, if you ask her, she’s never looking back. She found the pay and the benefits second-to-none.

“I plan to be here until I retire,” Trosen said. “Even on the toughest days, I love my job.”

Which is good news for Metro Transit and its riders. In under a year, she not only went from part-time to full-time employment, but she’s received multiple commendations on multiple different routes for her positive interaction with riders, who compliment her on her communication.

“When a rider boards with a negative mood, it can change the energy on the bus. I aim to keep my bus positive by greeting people the minute they step on,” Trosen said. “The little things like saying hello and asking how people are doing go a long way.”

This is important to Trosen who gets her energy from people. After six years of working with children on special education buses, which can include kids with behavioral problems, she’s learned a thing or two about keeping a situation positive.

“You just have to listen. Not just hear but listen to what your rider is telling you.” Trosen said. “There’s a lot of negativity in the world, so it’s just about how you respond to it.”

She specifically recalls a situation where what she did helped create a positive mood onboard. Recently, she noticed a rider carrying a cake. Trosen asked her what it was for, and she responded that she was throwing a birthday party for herself because her kids forgot it. Trosen immediately said “Happy Birthday, I hope you have a great one.”  Every rider who walked by her followed suit and wished her a happy birthday.

“I wish I could have done more,” Trosen said. “But, just wishing her a happy birthday and having the rest of the bus respond must have made her day.”

After being at the wheel just under a year, the praise keeps coming in about Trosen. But, she wants to keep the focus on more than just herself.

“I’m not the only great bus driver out there!”

Operator at a Glance: Julie Trosen

Hired: January 2017
Routes: 5, 14, 61, 643, 663. If you ask her, she loves every Route she drives.
Garage: Heywood
Family: Husband and a seven-year-old boy. "My husband is my rock."
Lives: Blaine

Hobbies: Reading and watching crime novels and TV shows. NCIS is her favorite show. She loves reading Lee Childs and Nora Roberts.

Accomplishment: Julie has received commendations and compliments for her communication with passengers on express Route 672, local Route 19, and State Fair routes.

Best Advice: Say “hi,” “bye,” and “have a good night” no matter who they are or how you’re feeling that day. And, always remember to take things in stride.

Learn more about becoming a bus operator at Metro Transit

Know Your Operator

Know Your Operator: Kossivi Loko 

Posted by johnkomarek | Tuesday, September 11, 2018 9:37:00 AM

Kossivi Loko is no stranger to patience, dedication, and community.

As an immigrant from the West African nation of Togo, it took a decade’s worth of patience, dedication, and a desire for community to successfully become a citizen of the United States, unite his family, and secure a job.

“I came here to find opportunity and to build a better life,” Loko said. “I was lucky. I won the immigration lottery.”

Even when he was accepted, however, he couldn’t bring his entire family. His eldest daughter would have to stay in Togo for years until she could be accepted into the country. Today, she is the first of his family to attend college.

“I am so very proud of her.” Loko said. “Her graduation is one of three days I’ve taken off in six years of working here.”

Loko chose Minnesota because a friend already lived here. As they both grew up in a tropical climate, his friend warned him about winter, but Loko looked forward to the change.

“I remember my first snow. It was so white. I was excited to shovel it.” Loko said. “Today, I still love snow, but I’d rather use a snowblower.”

He arrived in Minnesota on a green card in 2003. He initially found work as a truck driver. Eventually, he earned his citizenship in 2010.  Two years later, a call went out for bus operators. In 2012, he put on his first Metro Transit uniform.

After years of driving trucks, the major change was the addition of passengers.

“I like to serve people, and in this job, people need you,” Loko said. “In my interview, I said exactly that: I wanted a job that would serve people and help me to become part of my community.”

Transit is a community, and like all communities, they require relationships, like the one between operators and riders.

“You have no idea what people have been through that day when they get on your bus.” Loko said. “I try to treat everyone nice. And when I’m not having a good day, I remember to take a breath and count.”

At his home base at the Martin J. Ruter garage, he’s found another community: his fellow operators.

“We support each other, and we help each other out.” Loko said. “People care about you. We do our part to make Metro Transit great.”

Loko looks forward to continuing his career at Metro Transit and to growing into new positions.

Operator at a Glance

Hired: Dec. 31, 2012

Routes: 5, 14, 22, and 722

Garage: Martin J. Ruter

Hobbies: Working out, bicycling, traveling

Country of Origin: Togo (West Africa)

Family: Wife and four children, two girls and two boys.

Lives: Brooklyn Park

Memorable Trip: Mount Rushmore with his wife and kids. Was in awe of the craftsmanship of carved faces in the mountainside.

Fun Fact: Although he’s from a tropical African nation, he loves snow and the cold.

Best Advice: Be kind to people. You don’t know what they’re going through or where they just came from.

Bus Know Your Operator

Know Your Operator: Barbara Mestas 

Posted by Marisa Helms | Thursday, December 07, 2017 10:32:00 AM

When Operator Barbara Mestas walks into the Drivers Room at Heywood Garage, her big laugh and booming voice are a signal to her colleagues that their friend “B,” or “Barb” has arrived. Fellow operators are sure to say "hi." Some will ask Mestas for advice. Everyone knows she's fun to hang out with.

Indeed, during the nine years Mestas has worked as a Metro Transit operator, she's earned a solid reputation as somebody who brings people together. As she puts it, she’s pretty much a “people magnet.”

"I'm very approachable, very friendly, and I’m happy," Mestas said. “Everybody knows they can come and ask me about a route, or anything. Even the new people feel comfortable with me."

On her days off, Mestas and her coworkers get together for dinner or a movie, or to go bowling. "We call it our ‘Heywood family.’ Whoever wants to come, can join," Mestas said. "We try to make everyone comfortable who comes to our garage."

Mestas focuses her infectious optimism and magnetism on all her coworkers, not just her friends at work. She has started a few fundraisers for operators in need, and she regularly takes up collections as part of the Heywood Garage hospitality program to buy gift cards for coworkers who are going through hard times.

When she’s out driving, Mestas brings her friendly, broad smile and positive attitude to every route. She says she likes the challenge of the Extra Board schedule, and she says the routes are great because she gets to do something different every day.

"I love my job," Mestas said. "I'm a people person, so I enjoy talking and laughing with people. Whenever somebody gets on the bus I greet them, ‘Good morning,’ or ‘Have a good night,’ ‘How was your day?’ ‘How have you been doing?’ And people like that. They like to know that somebody cares about how their day was.”

Even with all the different routes Mestas covers, customers recognize her. And they’re about to start recognizing her even more. Mestas is enjoying some notoriety these days as the new face of Metro Transit's operator recruitment campaign. Mestas said Heywood Garage Manager Jay Kluge recommended her for the campaign because she's "always smiling, always happy and always friendly."

Images of Mestas behind the wheel have just started rolling out on buses and in advertisements on the web, on billboards and on social media.

"My kids totally think it's cool," Mestas said. "I think it's fun and I'm glad they picked me."

Operator at a glance
Hired: October 2008
Number: 68299
Routes: P.M. Extra Board driver, some express routes, but mostly all the local routes out of Heywood Garage, including routes 5, 19, 22, 10, 18
Hobbies: Bingo, hanging out with friends and family

To help you better get to know those getting you around, Metro Transit offers these 'Know Your Operator' profiles of train and bus operators. To suggest an operator for a future profile, please email ridersalmanac@metrotransit.org.

Bus Know Your Operator

Know Your Operator: Connie Isler 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, August 30, 2017 3:43:00 PM

Metro Transit Operator Connie Isler at Nicollet Garage. Connie Isler doesn’t need prescription lenses to see clearly. But she does sport a unique set of black frames, adorned with a small red bow – a subtle but intentional way of broadcasting the environment she hopes customers step into while riding her bus.

“I try to blend things into the uniform while still showing people I’m a professional and I can do this,” she said. “But it helps if people think I’m a little more fun than not fun.”

The glasses are just a part of Connie’s charm though.

Connie also welcomes each customer on board, uses humor to discourage bad behavior and regularly works in announcements thanking customers for riding and encouraging common courtesy and safe travel.

When a customer needs a transfer, she might say, “Let me get the secretary right on that for you.” Another familiar line lets customers know “random acts of kindness are appreciated on this bus.”

“My goal is for the average person who’s polite enough to put up with a little bit of the stuff that comes with riding the bus to feel safe and welcome, and to maybe even brighten their day a little bit,” Connie said recently from Nicollet Garage.

Connie’s father spent several years as a bus operator. She followed in his footsteps after attending a Prince concert in Minnesota, falling in love with the Twin Cities and moving to Minnesota. After the move, she spent a decade as a substitute school bus driver and trainer before applying at Metro Transit.

“Since I was enjoying this driving people around thing, I thought maybe I should do it with big kids,” she said.

Since joining Metro Transit in 2012, she has made a point of learning from seasoned operators who have excelled and maintained their sense of humor through the years.  

“When I got here, my goal was to find out how best to serve people, to find the ideal recipe and do what I could to match that,” she said.

Connie is already passing the wisdom she’s gained onto new operators, training new hires as a relief instructor at Nicollet Garage. The advice she comes back to the most: be kind.

“Just being humane – that is the key and so important to me,” she said. “I’m really into being respectful because everything starts there.”

  • Name: Connie Isler
  • Hired: Sept. 10, 2012
  • Number: 72342
  • Routes: As an extraboard, or substitute, operator, Connie enjoys all friendly, neighborhood routes
  • Hobbies: Training to complete a triathlon in 2018, technology, music

To help you better get to know those getting you around, Metro Transit offers these 'Know Your Operator' profiles of train and bus operators. To suggest an operator for a future profile, please email ridersalmanac@metrotransit.org.

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