Bus Stop Coordinator
Saturday, March 1, 2014 10:06:00 AM
When Sheila Miller began as a bus operator in 1977, she thought it would be a temporary stay that would hold her over as she decided on a career path. Twenty years later, Miller had driven bus routes out of the old Snelling, Nicollet, old Northside, Heywood and Ruter garages. Miller said she enjoyed the variety, autonomy, seeing the sites and the feeling of being outdoors while still protected from the elements. She also collected some fun stories along the way – chasing a purse snatcher into a bar, hiking to the bus stop to get to work on the morning of the 1991 Halloween blizzard, driving the occasional tour group and reprimanding on-board smokers in the 70s and 80s. The job also led her to meet her long-time companion, Butch Vickerman, who also worked at Metro Transit. Looking for a change of pace, Miller applied to become Metro Transit’s first Bus Stop Coordinator. To her pleasant surprise, she got the job. “It was the only other job I looked at and the only other job I applied for so it was probably meant to be,” Miller said. As Bus Stop Coordinator, Miller organized and maintained a list of the region’s bus stops, keeping up with quarterly service changes, new routes, temporary detours and other issues that led stops to be added, re-located or eliminated. As a former driver, Miller was also a vocal advocate for providing operators access to restrooms whenever possible. Miller retired in March 2014 with 38 years of service. In retirement, she plans to spend time traveling, sewing and supporting her favorite causes. She will also spend more time her many grandchildren and great grandchildren. “It’s (working at Metro Transit) become my life,” Miller said. “I have a big family, but this has always been my other family."
Saturday, February 1, 2014 11:20:00 AM
Robert “Bob” Buck spent his 34-year career at Metro Transit making mechanics happy. Working in parts management, Buck was responsible for keeping the stockroom full of the thousands of parts mechanics use while working on buses. He also spent time as a parts coordinator and driving the parts truck. “That was my number one job – to keep the mechanics happy,” said Buck, who worked at Jefferson Lines before moving to Metro Transit. After joining Metro Transit in 1980, Buck spent 25 years at the Overhaul Base in St. Paul. He moved to the stockroom at the Martin J. Ruter Garage for the last six years of his career. Buck said the biggest change over his career was the move to electronic records, which improve organization and led to more efficient ordering. Buck retired in February 2014 with plans to spend more time golfing, fishing and visiting family in his native state of California.
Friday, January 17, 2014 10:21:00 AM
Mike Qualy was working at a St. Louis Park candy factory when he found he could make more money driving buses. He started his career in transit in 1973 and spent the next 40 years behind the wheel. Qualy started at Nicollet Garage and learned all the Nicollet routes in less than two weeks simply by riding around the city on buses. He later spent time at the old Northside Garage, Shingle Creek Garage (now the Martin J. Ruter Garage), the old Snelling Garage and Heywood Garage. Qualy spent the last 23 years of his career at South Garage. Over the course of his career, Qualy drove nearly 50 local and express routes. Qualy also served as a relief dispatcher. He was also a driver for Dial-A-Ride and for Project Mobility, the precursor to Metro Mobility. Reflecting on his career, Qualy said he will miss challenging himself to stay on schedule. In retirement, he plans to pick up golf, take up watercolor painting, and try to relax by reading, watching movies and traveling.
Saturday, January 4, 2014 3:59:00 PM
Frank Launderville joined Metro Transit’s Bus Maintenance division in 1980, following a career with the U.S. Navy where he was a machinist. Shortly after joining Metro Transit, Frank went became a stockkeeper with the Material Management Department. Frank spent 22 years in support of bus maintenance and in 2002 became the first stockkeeper for the METRO Blue Line. For the last twelve years of his career, Frank worked at the Light Rail Operations and Maintenance Facility. As the Material Management Rail Coordinator, Frank was instrumental in leading the day-to-day operations of the light and Northstar Commuter Rail stockroom operations. After 33 years at Metro Transit, Frank retired on Jan. 4, 2014. In retirement, Frank plans to ride his Harley Davidson motorcycle and spend time with his wife and children.
Wednesday, January 1, 2014 2:11:00 PM
Jeannene Forshee started her career at Metro Transit on Feb. 20, 1980 and retired in 2014 with nearly 34 years of service. Forshee began at the old Snelling Garage and later spent time at South, East Metro and Heywood. For the last ten years of her career, Forshee worked at Martin J. Ruter Garage. A part-time driver, Forshee said it didn’t take long for her to discover the job “fit her personality.” “I loved the job because you were outside, but still protected from the elements,” she said. “I loved seeing the weather while not actually being in it.” In retirement, Forshee plans to develop a library of Christian literature that will be open to the community.
Wednesday, January 1, 2014 11:17:00 AM
When Bruce Biddick left the military, he thought his career would be in cars. His father, a bus operator, encouraged him to try what he did for a living. Biddick began doing just that on Nov. 5, 1984. “I thought I might as well try it and it turned out that I actually liked it,” Biddick said. So much so, in fact, that he spent the next 17 years as a bus operator and relief dispatcher. Seeking a change of pace, Biddick moved to the stockroom for the final 13 years of his career at Metro Transit where he grew close with those he worked with. Along with many friends, Biddick enjoyed working alongside many family members. His daughter Angie also worked in the stockroom. His brothers Robert Biddick and Steve Schoephoerster also worked as operators (Schoephoerster later became a patrol officer with the Metro Transit Police Department). Surrounded by those family members and others, Biddick said Martin J. Ruter Garage, where he spent the bulk of his career, became a very special place over the years. “This really has been like a second home for me,” he said. In retirement, Biddick said he plans to move to southern Minnesota and spend time with his family.
Assistant Manager of Street Operations
Wednesday, January 1, 2014 11:07:00 AM
With a love for motoring, Lee Bennett began his career at Metro Transit in March 1980 as a part-time bus operator out of the old Northside Garage. After seven years behind the wheel, Bennett became a Transit Supervisor. As a Transit Supervisor, Bennett worked in the field with operators on detours and schedule adherence. One of the major projects Bennett worked on during his time as a Transit Supervisor was the construction of Interstate 394, which led to frequent route changes. Bennett later became the Assistant Manager of Street Operations where he organized and directed Metro Transit’s team of Transit Supervisors. Between 2010 and 2013, Bennett oversaw service to the Minnesota State Fair. Bennett retired in January 2014 with 33 years of service. In retirement, he plans to return to his roots of driving commercial vehicles but will also spend time traveling, including visits to his northern Minnesota cabin.
Wednesday, January 1, 2014 9:42:00 AM
Bob Marson was working as a mechanic at a service station in St. Paul when a Metro Transit supervisor suggested he apply to work at the agency. When the service station closed, Marson made the move. He began at the old Snelling Garage on Oct. 17, 1977. After a year as a sweeper, Marson became a mechanic. Marson worked at several garages and the Overhaul Base before ending his career at Nicollet Garage in January 2014. In addition to vehicle maintenance, Marson spent time working on bus shelters, building maintenance and in the brake and body shops. “I just wanted to learn more and some of the people were so skilled at what they were doing,” Marson explained. “I wanted to get the expertise and it worked very well.” In retirement, Marson plans to travel with his two children and continue working as a part-time casino card dealer.
Wednesday, January 1, 2014 8:57:00 AM
In 1975, Mark Leier applied to work at Metro Transit and the U.S. Postal Office. When he got calls from each on the same day, he decided to go with Metro Transit. “I couldn’t see myself being a postman so I picked Metro Transit and it was the best decision I ever made,” Leier said. Leier started at the old Snelling Garage on Feb. 10, 1975. He drove several different routes before spending his last 18 years driving Route 63, with service on Grand Avenue. Leier developed such strong relationships with his customers that he became a godparent to four children whose parents he met on the bus. He also attended weddings for eight different customers. “I had such a rapport with the people,” he said. “They all treated me like family.” Leier retired in 2014 with 39 years of service. The River Falls, Wis. resident plans to spend his time hunting and fishing in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, South Dakota and North Dakota.
Friday, October 4, 2013 11:05:00 AM
Jon Uzpen began his career at Metro Transit on May 21, 1973 as an operator out of the old Snelling Garage. Uzpen worked as a bus operator for 15 years, including nine years as an instructor, before becoming a Safety Specialist. As a Safety Specialist, Uzpen performed in-service road tests and worked with operators to improve their driving skills. Uzpen spent time at each of Metro Transit's garages, working with hundreds of operators over the course of his 40-year career. Upon retirement, Uzpen said the favorite part of his job was watching other drivers succeed. Uzpen was named Rookie of the Year at the 1985 bus Roadeo and helped continue the annual driving competition in the latter part of his career (Uzpen was featured in a 2013 news story about the competition). Uzpen worked at Nicollet Garage from 1991 until his retirement on Oct. 4, 2013. In retirement, Uzpen said he plans to travel and spend time with his wife Cheri and grandchildren.