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2019

Gene Sheldon 

Manager-Rail Vehicle Maintenance
Posted by Christina McHenry | Thursday, September 05, 2019 3:47:00 PM

Gene Sheldon

Gene Sheldon’s father spent several decades as a bus operator with the Metropolitan Transit Commission. Growing up in St. Paul, that meant he could occasionally ride with his father to and from school. So it wasn’t altogether surprising that, after graduating from St. Paul College and jobs with Cummins and Caterpillar, Sheldon applied at the MTC. In 1980, as the trucking industry suffered, he began working in bus maintenance at the old Northside Garage. While he thought it’d be a short stay, Sheldon would go on to build a 39-year career in bus and rail maintenance at Metro Transit.

Sheldon’s time at the old Northside Garage was short. Within a month, he moved to the old Snelling Garage where he worked in the brake shop. In the following years, he worked at Nicollet, South and old Snelling, where he repaired lifts, worked in the body shop and maintained HVAC systems, among other responsibilities. Sheldon also spent time outside the shop as a miscellaneous bus operator, occasionally picking up open work so he could “get out and see why we do what we do.”

In 2003, as Metro Transit prepared to open its first light rail line, Sheldon was among the first 12 technicians to begin learning what it would be light to maintain light rail vehicles. He spent several months studying electro mechanics at Dunwoody College, and several more months training in Metro Transit’s fledgling operations and maintenance facility. At first, the new light vehicles didn’t require much maintenance. But Sheldon and others learned how to operate them and were involved in nightly tests that occurred before service began in 2004. When the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit line, now the METRO Blue Line, opened, Sheldon and his peers were ready to step in if any mechanical issues arose. After the successful opening, things never seemed to slow down. “We had 24 vehicles and they wanted all of them out there every day,” Sheldon remembered.

That experience led Sheldon to take on more responsibility as the light rail vehicle maintenance department grew. After serving as a foreperson he became a supervisor and helped created training programs for new hires. In 2007, he became a manager and began overseeing the production of new light rail vehicles in Mexico and California. He also helped develop the specifications for 27 new light rail vehicles that were ordered for the METRO Green Line Extension.

Sheldon retired in September 2019 with plans to do some contract work, travel and enjoy time with his family, including his wife, two children and four grandchildren. Shortly before his retirement, Sheldon said he was grateful to have been able to build a career at Metro Transit. “As I look back, I can say that I really enjoyed working here and that I’m happy with the road I chose,” he said.

2019

Theresa Collins 

Operator, #1378
Posted by Christina McHenry | Thursday, September 05, 2019 3:45:00 PM

Theresa Collins

As she took the bus to and from her job in downtown Minneapolis, Theresa Collins noticed an ad that said what was then known as the Metropolitan Transit Commission was looking for bus operators. When she applied, there weren’t many female operators and her small stature created some doubts. “I just told them, ‘I’m tough. I can handle it,’” Collins said. She lived up to her word, too, building a 30-year career as a safe, reliable and hard-working operator beloved by passengers and co-workers alike.

 

At 22 years old, Collins began as a part-time operator at the old Nicollet Garage, where she spent most of her career. At the time, buses lacked power steering and her instructor made her take laps until she could make a turn without hitting the curb. On her first day driving alone, she faced another challenge: heavy snow. “It was basically a blizzard,” Collins said. “Talk about stress. But I made it. I think I probably prayed a lot.”

 

For the first nine years, Collins worked overnight shifts. Later, she had to balance her work responsibilities with those of being a new mother. While the hours were challenging, she found the work fun and rewarding. She also felt fortunate to have a job that paid well and provided good benefits. “It wasn’t always easy, and I was very young, but I knew I was going to do this job until I retired,” she said.

 

Collins commitment to her customers and her co-workers was evidenced in many ways. She never missed a day of work, had a nearly perfect safe driving record and spent more than 12 years on one of Metro Transit’s busiest routes, Route 21. She befriended many of her customers and handed out postcards with her picture when she was about to take a different assignment. In 2016, Collins was among the first operators to be assigned to the METRO A Line, Metro Transit’s first Bus Rapid Transit line.

 

At the garage, Collins boosted morale by decorating for the holidays and joined Peer Support, making herself available to fellow operators who needed someone to talk to. She served on committees focused on safety, community relations and employee wellness and was an active union member throughout her career.

 

Collins spent the final eight years of her career at South Garage, retiring in August 2019. At her retirement, co-workers said Collins remembered her for her humor, grace, style and kindness. Joining her for the festivities: Her son, Evan Calhoun-Collins, #79195, who had recently been hired as a mechanic technician.  In retirement, Collins planned to travel and spend more time with family and friends.

2019

Dave Jablonski 

Facilities Technician
Posted by Christina McHenry | Thursday, September 05, 2019 3:43:00 PM

Dave Jablonski

Dave Jablonski was working as a part runner and drag racing a 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 when a friend suggested applying at what was then known as the Metropolitan Transit Commission. He applied, passed the entrance exam and started as a cleaner at the Nicollet Garage four months later. Jablonski would end up spending the next 44 years working in bus and facilities maintenance, retiring in 2019 with a reputation as one of Metro Transit’s most dependable technicians. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I went with the flow, was getting raises and liked what I was doing,” Jablonski said. “One thing led to another and I just ended up staying.”

 

Jablonski moved around quite a bit in his first few years. After starting at Nicollet, he moved to the old Northside Garage where he worked overnight as a fueler. He later returned to Nicollet, where he worked as a helper and technician, and came to Heywood after it opened in 1984. As technician, Jablonski primarily worked early-morning shifts, repairing buses that were going into service for the day. He later moved to the Overhaul Base where he worked in the brake shop and body shop, applying decals to new buses as they arrived. Jablonski also spent more than a decade in non-revenue, maintaining everything from weed whips to skid steers.

 

Jablonski’s last 11 years at Metro Transit were spent in facilities maintenance, where he was able to work alongside several longtime co-workers who had also become friends. “That was by far the best job I ever had,” he said. “I liked the partners I worked with, and it offered a lot of variety. One day I’d be changing glass, the next day I’d be working on irrigation, plowing snow or putting up a fence. If the public touched it, it was our job to fix it, clean it or replace it.” At his retirement, Jablonski was described as a knowledgeable technician who could always be counted on.

 

Jablonski retired in August 2019. In retirement, he planned to spend more time with his family and tending to his hobby farm.

2019

Bradley Larson 

Operator, South
Posted by Christina McHenry | Thursday, September 05, 2019 3:42:00 PM

Bradley Larson

Growing up in south Minneapolis, Bradley Larson took the bus to go skiing in Inver Hills and, later, to a job at a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. A nearby neighbor was also a retired bus operator. So after working as a computer technician and taking a few odd jobs, including a stint as a school bus driver, he came around to the idea of working at what was then known as the Metropolitan Transit Commission. “I wasn’t sure, but I heard the pay was good, and there was benefits, which is what I was looking for,” Larson remembered. “After a while, I got a decent raise, better hours and that was that.” Larson wound up spending more than 30 years with Metro Transit, retiring in 2019 out of South Garage.    

 

Larson’s began his career as a bus operator at what was then known as the Shingle Creek Garage. It was a tough start: there were no power brakes or power steering and, as a part-time operator, he was often assigned some of the oldest buses in the fleet. Larson also faced a long commute. His affinity for the work grew over time, though, and, eventually, Larson had worked the extraboard at every garage. “I was all over the place,” he said. “I thought, ‘I don’t know St. Paul, but I’m going to give it a try.’ It ended up being a pretty good experience. I liked the variety and was able to pretty much learn the whole system.” 

 

After 15 years as a bus operator, Larson transferred to light rail to be among the first train operators on the METRO Blue Line. He remembers it being a nerve-wracking experience. But just as he’d done as a bus operator, Larson grew more comfortable the longer he stayed. “Once I got the feel for it, I had no problem operating those trains at all,” he said. In 2014, Larson took on another challenge, joining the first group of train operators to move to the METRO Green Line. Before service began, he operated test trains through the corridor. Such uncommon experiences became a regular part of Larson’s work – he was the first train operator to test three-car train sets and was once asked to try a four-car train set in the yard. He was also tapped to participate in a mock breakdown on the Highway 62 flyover and was regularly asked to pull-in trains experiencing mechanical issues. “I just kept getting asked to be involved in a lot of the little projects we had going on,” he said. In his decade as a train operator, Larson never had a responsible collision.  

 

At the end of his career, Larson returned to South Garage, where he spent his final five years as a bus operator. Asked what he’d miss most about Metro Transit, he said it would be the people. “A lot of people would call me crazy because of the off the wall comments I’d make, but I didn’t really care because the whole room would be cracking up,” he said. “We all had a great time together, and that’s what I’ll really miss.”

 

In retirement, Larson planned to spend time boating on the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers and traveling.

2019

Annamarie Moseng 

Senior Account Specialist
Posted by Christina McHenry | Thursday, June 06, 2019 11:19:00 AM

Annamarie Moseng

After graduating from St. Paul College, Annamarie Moseng took a job as a legal assistant at a local law firm. The work wasn’t quite what she was looking for, though, so she started browsing job ads in the newspaper. When she spotted an opening at what was then called the Metropolitan Transit Commission, she applied and, in 1977, was hired as a clerical assistant. She didn’t know it then, but it was the beginning of what would become a 41-year career in transit. “If anybody had told me I’d still be here after all this time I would’ve laughed at them,” Moseng said shortly before her retirement. “I was looking for a job where I could get more experience and move on. Instead, I just moved around within the organization.”

 

When Moseng started, she entered an office environment that was devoid of computers. She helped keep her co-workers organized by typing spreadsheets and other documents, transcribing audio recorded into a Dictaphone and operating the telephone switchboard. With her sights set on a job in finance, though, she knew she’d need additional training. With encouragement from the finance director, she went back to school and returned in 1978 to take a new job as a balancing clerk, making sure reported fare collections matched the amount of money that was being brought in. Over time, she took on other new and different responsibilities, distributing paychecks, paying for materials like fuel, and guiding investments. She was also an enthusiastic part of the team that sold tickets to customers who took light rail to Twins games, Vikings games and other special events. This, she found, was the kind of work she was looking for. “I really liked the challenge of making sure everything balanced and working with all of the people you came into contact with,” Moseng said.

 

In the final decade of her career Moseng worked in accounts receivable, creating invoices for large capital projects, applying money from local and federal funding partners and managing Metropass income. The scope of the work, she said, was impressively large compared to how things looked at the start of her career. “When I stared, it was just buses,” she said. “Now look at us.”

 

While Moseng found her work rewarding, it was the people she worked with that truly made her career enjoyable. Several of her colleagues had similarly long tenures in the department, and Moseng created lasting friendships that extended beyond the workplace. “We celebrated the good times and got through the tough times together,” she said.

 

Moseng retired in June 2019 with plans to spend more time with her family, including four brothers, a daughter and a grandchild. She also looked forward to traveling, sleeping in and making spontaneous plans. “I’m ready to just enjoy life without having to come to work,” she said.

 

2019

Duane Lundgren 

Operator, Heywood
Posted by Christina McHenry | Thursday, June 06, 2019 11:18:00 AM

Duane Lundgren

In 1977, months after graduating from St. Paul’s Johnson High School, Duane Lundgren found himself traveling to and from the school again. This time, though, it was as a newly hired, 18-year-old school bus driver. The job wasn’t meant to be anything more than a way to make a little money while he pursued a career in TV or radio. But after attending vocational school, completing a broadcast program and briefly entertaining the idea of becoming a teacher, Lundgren remained at the wheel. He’d end up staying there for quite a while, too, spending 8 years as a school bus driver and trainer, and 34 years as a Metro Transit bus operator.

 

While it hadn’t been his initial plan, it wasn’t completely surprising that Lundgren would end up making a career as a bus operator, either. As a child, he was fascinated by large vehicles like semis and tractors. Growing up on St. Paul’s East Side, he often rode the bus downtown to spend his allowance on 88-cent records, thinking it might be neat to one day drive a bus. Practically speaking, being a bus operator offered better benefits, pay and stability than his other professional interests. “When I came here (to Metro Transit), it just seemed like a really natural fit,” Lundgren said.

 

Lundgren’s career in transit began in 1985 at what was then known as the Shingle Creek Garage. As a part-time bus operator, he worked during the morning rush hour and spent the rest of his day at the school bus company. After resigning from the school bus company, he started working during the afternoon rush hour. Lundgren became a full-time bus operator in 1988, briefly worked out of the old Snelling Garage and then arrived at Heywood, where he’d spend the remainder of his career. At Heywood, Lundgren spent more than a decade driving Route 3, and another decade driving what he and many of his customers believed to be the prettiest route in the system, Route 675, which runs between Mound and downtown Minneapolis (Route 675 later became Route 645). Lundgren said he enjoyed getting to know his passengers, being out in the community and overcoming daily challenges. “This is a challenging job, but I’m someone who likes to have my abilities and skills challenged, even if it gets a little frustrating at first,” he said.

 

Lundgren had plenty of skill, too, persevering through winter weather and much more to reach retirement with a perfect safe driving record. Patience and attitude, he said, were the keys to reaching that milestone. “I always told myself it wasn’t an option to have a chargeable accident,” he said. Lundgren regularly tested his skill in the annual Bus Roadeo, competing nearly every year that he worked at Metro Transit. He won several of the competitions and competed nationally four times.

 

For several years, Lundgren shared his expertise with new operators as an instructor. He was also among the first group of operators who mentored new hires through a program introduced in 2018. “You get a good feeling from teaching people and watching them wrap their heads around the things you’re telling them,” Lundgren said. Lundgren was also proud of a change he helped initiate in a union contract. Motivated by his own personal experience, the change allowed medically disqualified employees to retain their seniority when they were allowed to return to their job. 

 

While his attention turned away from broadcasting, Lundgren still found opportunities to use his voice. Customers often complimented him on the way he announced streets and points of interest, and he once narrated a Metro Transit training video. In retirement, Lundgren hoped to get more voiceover work and to explore theatre. He also looked forward to spending more time with family and friends, traveling and devoting more time to his biggest hobby, dancing and being a dance instructor. Still, he said he’d miss the work that had come to define more than three decades of his life. “I’d go on three-week vacations and never dread coming back to work, clenching my teeth,” he said. “It always felt good to be here.”

2019

Lois Johnson 

Senior Account Specialist
Posted by Christina McHenry | Tuesday, May 21, 2019 9:24:00 AM

Lois Johnson

When an employment agency sent Lois Johnson to what was then known as the Metropolitan Transit Commission, she was first handed the exam given to potential bus operators. "I said, 'No, no, no -- wrong position," Johnson recalled. With a background in accounting, she instead had her sights set on working in finance. Once she was given the right test, she passed, got a same-day interview with the finance director and was hired on the spot. And so began a 43-year career that concluded when Johnson retired from Metro Transit in 2019.

Growing up, Johnson's family lived in Montana, North Dakota and several small Minnesota towns. Even in her early years, she said, she had an affinity for numbers and bookkeeping. While her husband attended college in Winona, Minn., she worked in accounting for a music publishing company. She found herself looking for a new job when her husband graduated and the newly married couple decided to move to the Twin Cities. Johnson hadn't set her sights on a job in transit, but the good benefits and the chance to continue her career in finance led her to take the job.

Initially, Johnson was tasked with cashing employees' personal checks and selling tokens and punch cards directly to customers who visited MTC's main office, then located at Nicollet Garage. Before long, though, she found herself eager to take on new challenges. Using a calculator and a loud bookkeeping machine, she started paying bills and was put in charge of overseeing petty cash and employee uniform allowance accounts. When light rail service began, Johnson also started to staff the ticket booth, selling fares to customers attending games and other special events. "It was completely different than my regular job but it was really nice being able to help people," she said.

While she might not have expected to make a 43-year career in transit, Johnson said she stayed because she appreciated the job security, the benefits and the chance to work alongside several people who would come to be close friends. "I found my best friends here at work," she said. "How often does that happen?"

Johnson retired in May 2019 with plans to tackle several house projects and to travel the country with her husband. 

2019

Glenn Murschel 

Dispatcher, Heywood
Posted by Christina McHenry | Tuesday, May 21, 2019 9:23:00 AM

Glenn Murschel

After graduating high school, Glenn Murschel followed in his father’s footsteps and started working at a Minneapolis grain mill. But after a decade in the business, the mill shut down and Murschel found himself looking for a new line of work. This time, it was his sister, a bus operator, who provided the career advice. In 1985, Murschel started as a part-time operator at what was then known as the Shingle Creek Garage, setting out on what would become a 34-year career in transit.

Three weeks after his training began, Murschel found himself driving alone for the first time, guiding a Route 24 bus through downtown Minneapolis. It was, he said, a nerve-wracking experience. “I got the oldest, slowest bus in the fleet and it very quickly became a jam packed, standing load,” Murschel said. “I must’ve looked pretty nervous because I was sweating.” Murschel quickly settled into his new role, however. In fact, he went his entire 34-year career without being held responsible for an accident. “To me, that’s pretty good,” Murschel said. “You’ve got to have some luck, but there’s skill to it, too. You’re always having to assume what other people are going to do.”

After getting his start at Shingle Creek, Murschel spent time at several garages. His second stop was the old Snelling Garage, where he went full time. After that, he spent several years rotating between Heywood, old Snelling and Ruter, the name that would eventually be given to Shingle Creek. As an operator, Murschel often worked the extraboard and found himself driving lots of different routes. Among his most frequent assignments were routes 5, 10, 12, 22 and 724.

In 2000, Murschel started a new chapter in his career and took on a new role as a relief dispatcher at Ruter. He became a full-time dispatcher at Nicollet in 2007 and spent time at each garage before retiring out of Heywood in May 2019. Murschel said the job was a natural fit and that he was proud of his ability to get open work assigned. “You work with drivers and they work with you,” he said. “If you treat them right and they’ll help you.” While he spent most of his time at the garage, Murschel didn’t stop driving until the very end. After working overnight in dispatch, he’d often pick up a morning school trips.

Outside of his daily responsibilities, Murschel said he enjoyed getting to know so many people, both on the bus and at work. He often found himself recognizing people who’d been on his bus, even years later, and was a part of a Metro Transit softball team that advanced to a national competition in the late 1980s. “So many of the people in my life I’ve met through Metro Transit,” he said.

In retirement, Murschel planned to spend more time with his dog, camping, traveling and crossing items of his bucket list, including plans to attend each of horse racing’s Triple Crown races and to stand on an iceberg.

2019

Mark Aszmann 

Mechanic Technician
Posted by Christina McHenry | Friday, May 03, 2019 3:16:00 PM

Mark Aszmann

Mark Aszmann’s father started showing him to work on cars when he was just 12 years old. So when it came time to pick a career path, diesel mechanics was a natural choice. He attended vocational school and picked up jobs maintaining semis and school buses. When an opportunity to make a little more money came up at what was then known as the Metropolitan Transit Commission, he applied and took what would become his third and final job. 

Aszmann’s career in transit began in 1980, when he started as a cleaner at what was then known as the Shingle Creek Garage. While he could have graduated to other positions, he liked his short commute and was content cleaning, fueling and positioning buses at Shingle Creek for around a decade. “As a technician, sometimes you break your skin,” he said. “You don’t do that cleaning buses.” Aszmann eventually decided to take the next step in his career, though, moving to the old Snelling Garage where he worked in the unit overhaul and brake shops. Aszmann also spent about a decade as a mechanic technician at the Heywood Garage.

As Metro Transit prepared to open its first light rail line, Aszmann saw another chance to start a new chapter and transferred to Facilities Maintenance. As a facilities technician, Aszmann spent a lot of time at station platforms clearing snow, fixing heaters and lights and performing other maintenance activities. When the work started to become repetitive, he moved back to Bus Maintenance, where he finished out his career. At the Overhaul Base, Aszmann worked on the component’s desk, repairing doors, wheelchair lifts and other parts, and in the electric shop, where he worked on starters, alternators and air conditioner condensers.

Aszmann retired in May 2019, just a few weeks shy of his 39-year work anniversary. In retirement, he planned to spend time traveling the country with his wife and a fifth wheel trailer. At the time of his retirement, his son, Mark Aszmann, Jr., was an electro mechanic technician at Metro Transit.

2019

Alan Anderson 

Facilities Technician
Posted by Christina McHenry | Thursday, May 02, 2019 2:55:00 PM

Alan Anderson

Following his father’s lead, Alan Anderson started working on cars when he was a young teenager. He regularly rode the bus from his home in Columbia Heights to his first job, at Burger King. And a brother-in-law and uncle both worked for what was then known as the Metropolitan Transit Commission. So it wasn’t at all surprising that, looking for work between jobs, Anderson found himself applying for a job in Bus Maintenance. He landed the job and would spend the next 39 years working at Metro Transit. “I was probably destined to do that kind of work,” Anderson said as he reflected on his career shortly before retirement.

 

In August, 1980, Anderson began his career the same way other aspiring technicians at the time did – as a cleaner. It wasn’t long before he’d worked his way up to a technician role at the old Snelling Garage, though. Anderson spent around 15 years at Snelling, primarily working the overnight shift. While Snelling became familiar territory, Anderson spent time at every garage except for Nicollet. One of his more enduring roles was as an engine builder at the Overhaul Base. For seven years, he was part of a small team that tore down and rebuilt engines there. “I bounced around a lot, but I generally found that I liked all the jobs I had and could set things up to work for me,” Anderson said.

 

Anderson’s do-it-yourself father also introduced him to construction at an early age, providing valuable experience that would help him in the second phase of his career. Anderson spent the last seven years of his career in Public Facilities, where he never quite knew what the day would bring. That variety, he said, kept the job interesting, even when it meant being outside in some of Minnesota’s coldest weather. “The weather never really bothered me, even when it was 20 below,” he said. “You just have to dress for it.”

 

Anderson retired in May 2019 with plans to spend more time boating, fishing and traveling the country in an RV with his wife. He also looked forward to putting a lot more miles on his motorcycle, meeting people while exploring out-of-the way towns, and spending more time with family. At the time of his retirement, Anderson had three children and was soon to have six grandchildren.

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