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2018

Dale Massie, #1101 

Operator-East Metro
Posted by Christina McHenry | Wednesday, April 11, 2018 12:55:00 PM

 

Dale Massie grew up just a block off University Avenue, and his father William Massie spent 37 years as a streetcar and bus operator. So it wasn’t all that surprising when, after working briefly as an over-the-road truck driver, Massie followed in his father’s footsteps and started a career of his own in transit. 

After 18 months at the newly-opened Heywood Garage, Massie returned to St. Paul where he worked at the old Snelling and East Metro garages. Among his favorite routes was Route 71, which went right by his home. After retiring, Massie said he was proud of the service he provided over the course of his 30-year career. “The job wasn’t always easy but I tried to do my best so everyone had a good ride and got to where they needed to safely,” he said.
 
When he retired in January 2018, Massie said he didn’t have any immediate plans but that he was considering moving south to enjoy warmer weather.

2018

Mark Glocke, #4292 

Body Shop Supervisor
Posted by Rich Bothe | Tuesday, April 03, 2018 9:01:00 AM

Mark Glocke

Growing up on St. Paul’s East Side, Mark Glocke would often catch up with his dad, a bus operator, and ride back to the old Snelling Garage with him at the end of his shift. “That’s probably where I got my first smell of bus exhaust,” he said. He also spent his high school years learning to take apart and repair engines. The experiences made a lasting impression: After going to school for heavy diesel mechanics, Glocke applied for a job in bus maintenance and within days was working as a cleaner at the very same garage his father had took him to as a boy. It was the first of many stops in a career that would eventually span more than four decades.

Glocke’s time as a cleaner was short-lived – he became a helper his first week and, within a year, was working as a technician. As a technician, he performed tune-ups, built engines and repaired what were known as “smokers,” buses that had engine leaks and were emitting large amounts of exhaust. After a brief venture in the trucking industry, Glocke returned in 1982 to serve as a supervisor at Nicollet Garage. It was a difficult job: Buses frequent broke down and he had to rally an unruly group of technicians to do whatever they could to get all the necessary buses out each day. He succeeded and was rewarded with more responsibility at the larger Snelling Garage, then home to nearly 300 buses.

Those experiences led to what would become the most significant role of his career, a 23-year run as body shop supervisor. Unlike his previous roles, the job wasn’t just about managing people. At the time, technicians were primarily responding to immediate needs and haphazardly repairing buses that could be set aside for a few days. Glocke helped implement a program that led every bus to be fully-refurbished halfway through its in-service life, usually after six or seven years on the street. Figuring out when and how to pull buses for these mid-life repairs was quite a task, but Glocke was committed to making it work. The motivation to do well came in part from his time in the trucking industry. “We’d see buses with their panels flapping and just laugh, joking that they were about to take off into flight,” he said. Metro Transit would soon become known for having one of the best-looking and top performing fleets in the nation. The body shop also developed a reputation for bringing buses back to life after major collisions. Glocke can only think of a handful of buses that were deemed beyond repair during his tenure. The success reflects the strong sense of ownership and accountability Glocke promoted among technicians in the body shop. “People knew if we didn’t do a good job, we’d have to redo it,” he said.

Even so, the shop was a laboratory where new and tenuous ideas could be tested without fear of failure. The body shop frequently received requests to build custom tools that could be used on the shop floor or in other parts of the business. One of the most unique challenges the body shop received was to adorn a bus with lights for the holidays – what would become known as the beloved “Twinkle Bus.” “We had a lot of side jobs where we’d just have to get everybody together and say, ‘What can we do here?’” Glocke said. “It was fast, it was fun and there were always lots of challenges.”

In the final year of his career, Glocke was tapped to serve as the acting assistant manager of the Overhaul Base, where he helped oversee operations and advised his successor in the body shop. In retirement, he plans to enjoy his family, including three children and six grandchildren, finish some house projects, and spend more time hunting, fishing and enjoying the outdoors. He also hoped to do more traveling, including some long-distance train trips, and to stay involved in the Ham Lake Lions Club.

2018

Gary Bier, #3062 

Transit Information Representative
Posted by Christina McHenry | Monday, March 12, 2018 12:00:00 PM

Gary Bier

When Gary Bier showed up to apply for a job with Metro Mobility, he was told they weren’t hiring. But just two weeks after putting his name in, he got a call and was asked to begin working as what was then known as an order taker. His job, essentially, was to answer the phone and help Metro Mobility customers schedule trips. Metro Mobility provides door-to-door transportation to individuals who can’t use regular route transit service.

He enjoyed the work, but in 1985 Metro Mobility services were contracted out and Bier was left with a decision: transfer to the Transit Information Center (TIC) or find a new line of work. He chose to join the TIC, where he’d build a 38-year career and retire as the department’s most senior employee. Bier helped customers plan well over 1 million trips during his career and said he enjoyed helping people understand how to get where they needed to go. “I would say 99 percent of callers were very appreciative of the service, going back to when I started to present day,” he said shortly before retiring.

Bier’s presence was one of the few constants during his tenure at the TIC. In the mid-1980s, TIC representatives used a thick directory of printed schedules and large wall maps to help customers, often spending more than 20 minutes planning a single trip. By the time Bier retired, it wasn’t uncommon for representatives to take up to 200 calls a day, planning trips within minutes online. Bier developed a firm grasp of the system, but still used the new trip planning tools to verify his intuition and avoid leading people astray.

Besides being a patient presence on the phone, Bier strongly supported his co-workers. He coached fellow representatives and spent nearly 20 years training new hires. “I liked the interaction and the challenge,” he said. “You had to find different ways of communicating with people.” Bier also spent more than 13 years as a union steward, representing ATU Local 1005 members in Transit Information, Finance and Service Development. Bier said he enjoyed representing his fellow union members and working with management to resolve issues. “We could disagree but at the end of the day, I understood where they were coming from and they understood where I was coming from and we both wanted the best for the employees,” he said.

In retirement, Bier plans to get long-stalled projects done around the house and spend more time with his family, including his wife, whom he met while working at Metro Mobility, children and grandchildren. 

2018

Mike Hadel 

Revenue Balancing Clerk
Posted by Christina McHenry | Monday, March 12, 2018 11:43:00 AM

Mike Hadel

When Zayre Shoppers City shut down, Mike Hadel, who’d managed one of the chain’s gas stations, found himself looking for a new line of work. Recently married and with a newborn son, he wanted a job with good benefits and opportunities to grow. His dad had been a streetcar operator and he remembered being told that the Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC) was always hiring. So transit seemed like a good place to look for a fresh start. He applied and was offered a job in the Transit Information Center (TIC), one of several stops in what would ultimately become a memorable and rewarding 37-year career.

In the TIC, where he started out at $2.35 an hour, Hadel helped Metro Mobility customers schedule pick-ups and assisted callers who needed help planning trips using transit. At the time, TIC employees used large printed maps and printed schedules to plan trips, a time-consuming process that led to long calls. Hadel was among the department’s first employees to use a computer.

While he enjoyed the work, Hadel sought a new challenge and moved to Payroll, where he reviewed operator timesheets. That job led to yet another move, to Revenue and Ridership, where Hadel spent the final 23 years of his career. At the beginning of his time in Revenue and Ridership, Hadel was tasked with providing suburban transit providers ridership data for their services, then operated under contract by Metro Transit. Later, he helped adopt and improve new fare collection equipment, including stored-value cards and an expanding network of ticket vending machines at rail stations. Because the technology was new, Hadel often had to create reports or processes for the first time. “Our motto was ‘Figure it out for yourself,’” he said. 

Hadel was especially proud of the work he did to assist with credit card investigations, to maintain essential data and of a suggestion that led to the creation of portable ticket vending machines that could be temporarily put into service during large events. He also enjoyed helping with manual passenger counts, taking hundreds of trips and meeting people across the agency.

In retirement, Hadel plans to become more involved in the Minneapolis chapter of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, explore opportunities to sing and travel. He also looked forward to spending time with his family, including his wife Ann, rescue dog Kirby, son Nate, daughter-in-law Melissa, three grandchildren and two “grand dogs.”

2018

Lynnette Olson, #1624 

Operator-South Garage
Posted by Christina McHenry | Monday, March 12, 2018 11:39:00 AM

Lynnette Olson

Lynnette Olson began taking the bus at a young age, becoming so used to riding that she didn’t feel the need to get a driver’s license until she was 18 years old. Her older brother worked in bus maintenance and, while working as a gas clerk on Nicollet Avenue, she regularly chatted with operators on break who spoke positively about their work. So as a single mom eager to find a steady job with good benefits it wasn’t altogether surprising that she’d apply to become a bus operator. She was hired in 1984, and ultimately built a nearly 34-year career at Metro Transit.

Olson’s first stop was at what was then known as the Shingle Creek Garage, now known as the Martin J. Ruter Garage. Her early career also included time at the Heywood and Nicollet garages. At the time, she was among a small number of female operators, which led to some doubts about her abilities. “It was kind of a grueling place to be a woman,” she said. “But I grew up with five brothers so I knew anything the guys could do I could do. It didn’t deter me at all.”

Among her memorable early experiences was working nights on Route 9, when large groups of men would exit Moby Dicks, a Hennepin Avenue bar, and crowd the front of the bus hoping to get her attention. The night Olson was assigned to bring a group of fraternity members and their dates to a Medina ballroom also stands out, in part because she drove the 60-foot bus into a dead-end parking lot and had to back up, inch by inch, over the course of several hours. “I could’ve driven the bus home backward after that,” Olson said.

After having her second child, Olson set driving aside and spent ten years as a janitor at South Garage. The move allowed her to work during the day and spend time with her kids in the evening. Spending more time at the garage helped her get to know her co-workers, including, another long-serving operator, Jerry Olson, who she later married.

While it made her nervous, Olson returned to driving to have more control over her schedule. The move also brought variety back to her working life, something she craved to keep the job interesting. While she worked several different local and express routes, her career also included a four-year stint on Route 535, where she became a familiar face to several customers. Some were so close, she said, that they delivered cards when her mother passed away.

That experience was just one of many, she said, that underscored the role Metro Transit has played through all her life changes. “This job has been a real blessing,” Olson said shortly before retiring. “Everything that’s happened throughout my adult life, it’s been in the background.”

In retirement, Olson planned to spend more time with her family, including her two children and several grandchildren. She also looked forward to traveling, gardening and organizing thousands of pictures collected through the years.

2018

Ricky Krebsbach, #240 

District Supervisor
Posted by Christina McHenry | Thursday, January 18, 2018 12:44:00 PM

Ricky Krebsbach

After going to school to learn how to fix factory machinery, Ricky Krebsbach spent more than a decade doing just that. But after losing several jobs to factory closures, he took the advice of friends and relatives working in transit and applied for a job as a bus operator. The only experience he had at the time came from driving a fire truck as a volunteer with the Center City Fire Department. “I thought, ‘You know, if I go there I know it’s not going to close,’” Krebsbach said. “I came here for security.” And he found it, building a nearly 33-year career as an operator, relief dispatcher and district supervisor.

Krebsbach’s career began at South Garage and he’d worked at every garage but Ruter by the time he joined Street Operations 18 years later. He liked the work, he said, because he got to pick his hours and could continue traveling the Midwest as a show skier. Looking for a new challenge that didn’t involve office work, Krebsbach participated in a career development program and joined Street Operations as a supervisor in 2003. At the time, about a third of his time was spent observing buses to see if they were arriving on time. As technology took over that task, he could devote more of his attention to the work he truly enjoyed – helping operators through detours, accidents or other service interruptions. He worked primarily in and around St. Paul, familiar territory from his childhood. “What I really liked about the job was the freedom,” Krebsbach said. “I could go anywhere I thought I was needed.”

Supporting special events brought some unique and interesting challenges, too. In 2005, Krebsbach helped devise plans to serve the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, identifying accessible boarding locations, drawing up route maps and helping to make sure buses could accommodate multiple wheelchairs at a time. During the State Fair, he was assigned to Ridgedale Mall, a temporary Park & Ride site that was overwhelmed with hundreds of customers and quickly abandoned. “There was a point when we probably had 600 people in line and no buses,” he said.

Later in his career, Krebsbach helped Street Operations begin downloading on-board videos and develop protocols for traffic signal violations. He also attended countless pre-construction meetings to ensure transit operations weren’t adversely impacted by roadwork, and he was especially involved during the construction and 2014 opening of the METRO Green Line.

When he retired in January 2018, Krebsbach said he planned to continue water and snow skiing and to do more traveling. “The people, the security, the job – it’s just been fantastic,” he said.

2018

Phyllis Wade-Myers, #273 

Operator-East Metro
Posted by Christina McHenry | Thursday, January 11, 2018 1:35:00 PM

Phyllis Wade-Myers

After moving to the Twin Cities in 1974, Phyllis Wade-Myers spent a decade leading what was known as the “fluff department” at a commercial laundry service. Commuting on the bus, she was impressed and encouraged when she saw women behind the wheel, thinking to herself, “I could do that.” And so she did, building a reputation for warmly greeting everyone who stepped on board during her 33-year career.

While she entered with confidence, Wade-Myers was quickly struck by the realities of the job and found herself wondering, at least initially, if she was cut out for the work. During her early training, she remembers her palms sweating as she brought a group of fellow trainees back to the garage. The working conditions were a challenge, too: Buses lacked heating or cooling systems, so in the winter she bundled up and put a piece of cardboard on the floor to help shield her feet from the cold air. Her first years also meant working lots of nights and holidays, putting in 16-hour days while raising two children and keeping her job at the laundry service. “On Thanksgiving, I’d go home between shifts and baste the turkey,” she said. “You just did what you had to do and you didn’t really think about it.”

Wade-Myers got more comfortable, though, and decided to make transit a full-time pursuit when she realized the job would pay twice the $7 an hour she made at the laundry service, putting her dream of owning a home within reach. She was good at it, too: in her 33 years, she recorded no responsible accidents.

Her comfort on the job allowed her personality to shine at work. At the garage, she served as an informal mentor and motherly figure, befriending her peers and offering her thoughts on the job, personal health and spirituality to those who sought her opinion. On several occasions, customers also asked for her counsel, staying with her during breaks to discuss whatever issues they were facing in their lives. For her part, Wade-Myers, was especially fond of the elderly and special needs customers she got to know. And she built strong rapport with commuters going to work early in the morning on Route 67, a route she operated for many years. Wade-Myers embraced any chance she had to learn from people of different backgrounds, too, initiating cultural celebrations at the garage and learning some Spanish and American Sign Language so she could better communicate with customers. “Everyone has a story, and when you learn that you get an entirely different perspective,” she said.

Wade-Myers’ personality extended to her wardrobe as well. An amateur clothing designer, she disliked the operator uniforms and regularly customized the attire to her tastes. That included a regular rotation of colorful scarves and unique jewelry, as well as some one-of-a-kind headwear fashioned out of the standard-issued clothes made available to operators. “For a woman to wear the same thing every day was just beyond me,” she said.

Looking back at her career shortly before retirement, Wade-Myers said she was grateful to have found a home at Metro Transit but surprised at how long it lasted. “I thought I’d be here until I ran across something better, but I just never found anything better,” she said. In retirement, Wade-Myers said she planned to spend more time volunteering and counseling through her church, Minneapolis-based New Salem Missionary Baptist, sewing, fishing and with her family, including two children and nine grandchildren.

2018

John Gomez, #632 

Operator-East Metro
Posted by Christina McHenry | Thursday, January 11, 2018 1:33:00 PM

John Gomez

After leaving the Army in 1978, John Gomez followed his brother-in-law to the University of Minnesota where he studied to become a teacher. After several years commuting to a proofreader job on the bus, he turned his attention to an entirely different line of work: driving a bus. Encouraged by several of his wife’s family members who worked in transit, Gomez applied and began working as a part-time operator at the old Snelling Garage in 1985. While he wasn’t quite sure it was the job he wanted, Gomez eventually settled in and spent 33 years as an operator and instructor.

Reflecting shortly after his retirement, Gomez said he considered his six years as an instructor to be among the greatest accomplishments of his career. “I think it goes back to my aspiration to be a teacher,” he said. “It was an opportunity to pass along knowledge. And, for me, it was also a great confidence builder.” Gomez had other reasons to be confident in his abilities, too, including a nearly-flawless safety record that he says came from having patience and an innate ability to foresee and prevent accidents on the road. “I was prepared to get into an accident every day, so I always thought to myself, ‘What can I do to prevent that from happening?’” he said.

Gomez also found success by learning to put the pressures of the job aside and creating a welcoming atmosphere by taking the time to greet customers as they boarded. “It makes their life easier, it makes your life easier and you gain a friend,” he said. Living in St. Paul, his career was spent almost entirely at old Snelling and later at East Metro; among his favorite routes was Route 84.

Sharing stories and building friendships with his fellow operators helped Gomez throughout his career, too. The camaraderie that developed over the years, he said, is what he’ll miss most in retirement. “We all suffer through the same things,” Gomez said. “It’s a special kind of bond that only drivers can share.”

In retirement, Gomez said he planned to spend more time with his family, including two daughters, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He also looked forward to exercising more, especially swimming and golf, and to volunteering with the Shriners and the group’s drum corp.

2018

Greg Lee, #5420 

Facilities Technician
Posted by Christina McHenry | Thursday, January 11, 2018 1:13:00 PM

Greg Lee

Greg Lee was mechanically inclined from a young age, regularly tinkering with small engines and getting under the hood while growing up in New Brighton. So when it came time to look for work, he set out to make a living in maintenance. At 22 years old, referred by a friend, he applied and was hired as a Cleaner at Nicollet Garage. It was the first of several jobs Lee would hold over the course of his nearly 39-year career at Metro Transit. “It was odd hours, but I needed the work and the people were friendly,” Lee said shortly before retirement. “And it was what I’d call a reasonable atmosphere – no one expected more of you than you could give.”

That doesn’t mean Lee had limited expectations for himself, however. Shortly after joining what was then the Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC), Lee bid up to a Helper position and began assisting Mechanic Technicians at the old Snelling Garage and, later, cleaning parts at the Overhaul Base. The on-the-job training helped him move into a Mechanic Technician role himself, performing tune-ups, repairing bulkheads, swapping engines, rebuilding transmissions and, for nearly a decade, doing rehab work in the Body Shop. “I was really fortunate to have people around me who had experience who could help me,” Lee said.

After three decades in Bus Maintenance, Lee moved to Facilities Maintenance where he continued to acquire new skills – hauling trailers, operating skid steers and, in one memorable case, using a jack hammer to remove a bench and setting it back into place with quick-drying concrete. Lee was among the first Facilities Maintenance employees assigned to the METRO Blue Line, helped install and repair countless customer waiting shelters and was regularly up before dawn to clear snow at transit facilities across the Twin Cities. Lee said he enjoyed being outdoors and the challenges that came with the constantly-changing work. “This is the kind of job where you have to think on your feet,” he said. “You have to go out and just figure out how to get the job done. You have to be a problem solver.” Whatever the assignment, Lee took pride in mastering the task and leaving a small footprint. “My motto’s always been if you can’t tell I did anything than I must’ve been doing my job,” he said.

Lee retired in January 2018, with nearly 39 years of service. In retirement, he planned to spend time camping and traveling, including an extended visit to Europe and a mission trip to Guatemala. Lee was joined at his retirement by wife Diane, son Mike and daughters Missy and Michelle.

2017

Florence Ruble 

Data Collection Supervisor
Posted by Christina McHenry | Thursday, October 12, 2017 2:14:00 PM

Florence Ruble

When Florence Ruble began her career at Metro Transit in 1985, she was the only person in the scheduling department with a computer. Later in her career, she helped the agency begin using technology that would help automatically collect passenger boarding data – at times climbing to the top of 10-foot ladders to mount detection equipment on light poles and other street fixtures. But when she retired after 32 years of service, it wasn’t her proficiency with technology that people remembered her for. It was the way she supported those around her, and especially the employees she led over 23 years as a Data Collection Supervisor. At her retirement, co-workers said Ruble was always the one to suggest and organize a potluck, or to pick up the phone and listen when Data Collectors encountered issues on the road. The relationships she built, Ruble said shortly before her retirement, are what kept her coming back for more than three decades. “I got more comfortable and had such good people to work with, so I said, ‘OK, I’m going to stay here,’” Ruble said.

Before she started, though, Ruble wasn’t quite sure what she was getting into. She applied for a job as a Data Processing Aide after seeing it advertised in the newspaper. It seemed like a good fit, she said, because she’d done similar work at the Powers Department Store, which was closing. But, she said: “I just assumed it was a garage with a bunch of buses. I never imagined how big it was.” The organization Ruble stepped into didn’t look much like the one she left behind, though. In her first few years, Ruble helped transfer hand-written route information into a computer system that built operator schedules. It would be several years before others in the scheduling department would also begin using computers. The next leap came with the arrival of Automatic Passenger Counters, or APCs. The technology allowed passenger and schedule data to be automatically collected through sensors, instead of being counted manually by employees. Because the technology could only reach a portion of the system at first, Ruble helped develop sampling methods that expanded their impact. The work was hands on, too – Ruble helped mount sensors in the field and pulled disks that stored data from the buses. While that technology replaced some of the manual counting that took place, Ruble continued to oversee Data Collectors who spent their days counting bus and light rail passengers and tracking on-time performance. That information helps verify and supplement the automatically-collected data. Ruble said she was proud of the work she and her team did over the years. “I know the information we collected over the years made a difference,” she said. “It’s so important because that’s really the first step in building the schedules.” 

Outside of work, Ruble enjoyed spending time with her family, including husband Jim and several pets, and following the Minnesota Gophers. Shortly before her retirement, she said she’d miss her co-workers. “After seeing them every day, they’ve really become family,” she said. Ruble passed away in December 2017.

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