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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.


Mark Aszmann 

Mechanic Technician
Posted by Christina McHenry | Friday, May 3, 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.


Alan Anderson 

Facilities Technician
Posted by Christina McHenry | Thursday, May 2, 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.


Edgard Alvarez 

Facilities Technician
Posted by Christina McHenry | Thursday, May 2, 2019 2:54:00 PM

Edgard Alvarez

After a few weeks sweeping buses at the old Northside Garage, Edgard Alvarez wasn’t sure he wanted to keep coming back. “I didn’t know I had to be a cleaner first,” he said. “I thought, ‘I went to school to be a mechanic, not to sweep buses.’” Alvarez stuck it out, though, ultimately making a 39-year career in bus and facilities maintenance.

Originally from Guatemala, Alvarez’s family moved to California and then to the Twin Cities. After graduating from South High School, Alvarez thought he’d become a Spanish teacher. But he found that he preferred working with his hands, picked up a few auto maintenance books and enrolled in vocational school. His first jobs were at Sears, JC Penny and Toro, where he worked on golf equipment. When a neighbor who worked as a bus operator suggested he apply for a job at Metro Transit, Alvarez took the advice. The first time he got a call back, he was out of town and missed his chance to get an interview. It would be another year before he got another call. This time, he answered, interviewed and got the job.

While sweeping buses wasn’t ideal work, Alvarez realized it would only be a matter of time before he could become a technician. And that’s what happened. After two years working as a cleaner, helper and skilled helper, Alvarez earned a technician role. He worked at nearly every garage, but spent more than 20 years at South where he performed inspections, did lift work and maintained air conditioning systems, among other duties. Alvarez said he liked working at South because it was just a few miles from his home and he could commute by bike. Alvarez also spent many years working the overnight shift so he could spend time with his three children, each avid hockey players. “I hardly ever missed their practices and probably saw 98% of their games,” Alvarez said.

When Alvarez learned about an upcoming opportunity in Facilities Maintenance, he set out on a new course. He began commuting by bus so he could use the time to study for a test he’d need to pass to earn a boiler’s license. He passed that test and, after 33 years in Bus Maintenance, got the job. Alvarez spent the remainder of his career in Facilities Maintenance. As a facilities technician, Alvarez, installed and repaired waiting shelters, came in early to clear snow, helped locate utilities and did a variety of other tasks. He liked the work, he said, because there was a lot of variety and he could spend most of his day outside. “When I’d go back into a garage to get something, I’d realize I had it pretty good because I was out and about doing things,” Alvarez said. “It was a really neat job.”

Alvarez retired in May 2019 with plans to spend more time with family, traveling, biking and playing hockey (after years of watching from the bleachers, he joined an adult league and began playing goalie). At the time of his retirement, Alvarez had been married to his wife Mirtha for 34 years, who he described as a very supportive partner. In 2019, Alvarez’s son was also working as a public facilities worker and his brother, Melvin, was working as a cleaner at South Garage.


Mark Tobin-Cortez 

Mechanic Technician
Posted by Christina McHenry | Tuesday, April 16, 2019 4:35:00 PM

Mark Tobin cortez

Mark Tobin-Cortez thought he’d join the service. But after being diagnosed with flat feet, he had to rethink that plan. His father, a 23-year bus operator, encouraged him to apply at what was then known as the Metropolitan Transit Commission. Tobin-Cortez liked the idea but didn’t think he had the kind of experience he’d need to pursue a career in bus maintenance. After taking a class in which he helped rebuild a firetruck engine, he applied and got the job. Hired in 1976, Tobin-Cortez ultimately spent more than 43 years at Metro Transit. 

Tobin-Cortez’s first stop was at the old Northside Garage, where he worked overnight cleaning buses. “I was told I’d be working 9 to 5, which I thought was gravy,” Tobin-Cortez said. “Then I learned it would be 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.” After stints as a fueler and vault puller, Tobin-Cortez graduated to roles as a skilled helper and technician. At the old Snelling Garage, he steam cleaned engines, built mirrors, glued seat covers together in the upholstery shop, went on service calls and did a variety of other jobs. He also spent a few years as a miscellaneous bus operator, getting behind the wheel before or after putting his time in at the garage. That experience, he said, gave him a better appreciation for the issues operators reported to bus maintenance. “They’d tell us the bus just died and we couldn’t believe it,” he said. “Then it happened to me.”

Tobin-Cortez was among the first employees to work at the Overhaul Base when it opened, spending 12 years in the brake shop there. He was also among the first technicians to work at East Metro Garage, where he spent more than a decade inspecting buses. “I got tired of going on service calls and thinking we could prevent some of these issues if we just did a better job with inspections,” he said. Toward the end of his career, Tobin-Cortez moved from St. Paul, his hometown, to Brooklyn Center. To avoid a long commuter, he transferred to the Ruter Garage where he spent his last two years as a general technician.

Tobin-Cortez retired in April 2019. In retirement, he looked forward to having more time with his two dogs, fostering animals and creating marionettes and hand puppets, a longtime hobby.


Ralph Mason 

Cleaner, Nicollet Garage
Posted by Christina McHenry | Monday, March 25, 2019 2:16:00 PM

Ralph Mason

Ralph Mason spent more than a decade cleaning passenger and freight trains that stopped in St. Paul. When he was unexpectedly let go, Mason quickly set out to find a new line of work and spotted a newspaper ad about vault puller openings at Metro Transit. Despite thinking he faced long odds, he applied and was hired. Mason never had to look for another job again, retiring in early 2019 with just over 30 years of service.

As a vault puller, Mason emptied cash- and coin-filled fareboxes as they came into the garage. A year after taking the job, a cleaner opening came up at Nicollet Garage and Mason seized the opportunity to try something new. The move would end up being his last – Mason spent more than 28 of his 30 years at Metro Transit as a cleaner at the south Minneapolis garage. From the start, Mason took pride in his work, carefully cleaning the seats, floors and other areas of buses so customers could feel comfortable riding. His attention to detail was matched by an equally keen sense of the individual needs of each bus. Mason was individually responsible for up to a third of the garage’s 150 buses at a time. “The buses almost became like a little family,” Mason said. “What I always said was that if you take care of your buses, your buses will take care of you.”

While the job may have seemed repetitive, Mason said he enjoyed his work routine. “People would ask, ‘Don’t you get tired of it?’” Mason said. “And honestly, I don’t. If you’re comfortable with something why not stay with it.” That doesn’t mean he was complacent, though. Born in St. Paul and raised in North Minneapolis, Mason said he was proud to be a public servant. He also credited his longevity to having good managers and co-workers who supported and looked out for one another. Mason especially admired Sy Sharp, Nicollet’s longtime bus maintenance manager who retired with more than 50 years of service. “All my life I’ve been into sports, which are all about teamwork,” Mason said. “And that’s what we had here – a strong team.”

Mason retired in March 2019 with plans to take some long-overdue vacations and to spend more time with family, including a son and two daughters. “I’ve really been tethered to this job but it’s all been worth it,” he said. “Whenever I get the chance, I tell new people this is a great place to be, and a great time to be here."


Bob Benson 

Garage Coordinator
Posted by Christina McHenry | Monday, March 25, 2019 2:07:00 PM

Bob Benson

Born and raised on St. Paul’s East Side, Bob Benson joined the Navy, returned to his hometown and started a job proofing, baking and wrapping at Taystee Bread’s manufacturing plant. At the suggestion of a friend, he traded that job for one as a bus operator. While he wasn’t convinced he had the right personality for the job, Benson grew to love the work – so much so, in fact, that he built a 43-year career in transit.

Benson’s career began in 1976 at the old Snelling Garage, where he found himself driving some of the same routes he used to travel on growing up. Shy at first, Benson gradually started to open up to regular customers, a group of whom once invited him to a holiday party. “I was really awed by the whole aspect,” Benson said of his early days as an operator. “It really helped me learn how to talk to people and get away from my shyness.”

After five years at old Snelling, Benson was drawn to Bloomington’s South Garage, where he could get better hours. The move put him in unfamiliar territory, but it didn’t take long for Benson to learn his way around. “Minneapolis wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be,” he said. While he got more comfortable on the road, Benson also enjoyed a growing sense of community at South Garage, where he spent 38 of his 43 working years. “It really became more of a family,” he said. In addition to friendships, it was at South that Benson met an operator who would later become his wife. (The relationship began when that operator, Lisa Benson, began rearranging the thumbtacks on Bob Benson’s carefully color-coordinated bulletin board.)  

As Benson’s confidence grew, so too did his ambition. In 1987, he became a relief instructor and began sharing some of the lessons he learned with newly hired operators. Benson also started filling in as garage coordinator, and in late 1994 took on that role full-time. As coordinator, Benson organized operator training, created standard protocols and served as a resource for operators, maintenance staff and service planners. He also made a point of passing the familial feeling he enjoyed onto new operators, learning their names and leaving his office door open so people could come to him with questions or to seek advice. “I always wanted to be the light in the dark hallway,” he said. “Once I could see that I could make improvements and help people, I knew this was the job for me.”

His responsibilities as coordinator grew over time, too. Benson was involved in large projects like the opening of the Marq2 corridor, the I-35W & 46th Street Station and Metro Transit’s first Bus Rapid Transit service, the A Line. He also experienced two World Series, two Super Bowls and 43 Minnesota State Fairs. Throughout it all, he continued to drive when other operators weren’t available. “It got to the point where there wasn’t enough time in the day to get everything done,” Benson said. “Being able to get involved in all these things was really gratifying.” When he retired, Benson had the longest tenure as coordinator among those holding the same position.

Benson retired on March 22, 2019 – exactly 43 years after his first day on the job. In retirement, he planned to devote more time to community service, volunteering with the Minnesota Zoo and as an election judge, traveling and golfing. He also looked forward to spending more time with family, including his three children and four grandchildren. “I came here thinking of this as a transitional job,” Benson said. “I think I missed my departure date by about 40 years.”


Karin Warren 

Senior Accounting Specialist
Posted by Christina McHenry | Thursday, March 7, 2019 1:36:00 PM

Karin Warren

As a Minneapolis firefighter, Karin Warren’s father appreciated what it meant to work in public service. So when it came time for Warren to begin her own career, he encouraged her to think about finding a place for herself in local government. In 1984, she found it at the Metropolitan Transit Commission, which would later become Metro Transit.

When she applied, Warren had her choice of two jobs – one in Human Resources, and another in the Revenue Department. Attracted by a slightly higher wage, she chose the Revenue Department and began her career compiling ridership data which, at the time, was recorded manually. A year later, she moved to the Payroll Department where she helped assemble payroll information for bus operators. After that, she moved to the Convenience Fares Department, now called Sales Operations. She spent several years managing relationships with vendors who sold bus passes, a role she found particularly rewarding.

Warren returned to the Revenue Department to be a balancing clerk, ensuring that money collected from fareboxes matched reports of what was taken in. If the collection was off by more than $100, it was up to her to find out where it went. The work, she said, kept her fingers moving most of the day. “I was really bad at math in school, but that’s what calculators are for,” Warren said. “If I didn’t have a calculator I’d be hurting.” Toward the end of her career, Warren took on what would become her favorite job yet – making thousands of payments for fuel, parts and anything else that had to do with inventory.

As she approached her retirement, Warren said she was grateful to have followed her father’s advice. In addition to job stability, good benefits and a comfortable retirement, Warren developed strong bonds with her co-workers, many of whom spent decades working alongside her. “I always think to myself, ‘I’m so glad my dad pushed me to do this,’ because it’s really made me who I am,” Warren said. “I thank my lucky starts – it’s been a great journey.”

Warren retired in March 2019 with more than 34 years of service. In retirement, she looked forward to spending more time with her family and dogs, and to devote more attention to volunteering, fishing, gardening and cooking.


Frank Hernandez 

Mechanic-Technician, East Metro
Posted by Christina McHenry | Tuesday, February 12, 2019 3:43:00 PM

Frank Hernandez

After completing his service with the U.S. Marine Corps, Frank Hernandez found himself back in, St. Paul, his hometown, driving a cab. When a friend suggested he apply at what was then known as the Metropolitan Transit Commission, he hoped he could continue driving. But he found a job in bus maintenance instead, beginning as a cleaner at the old Snelling Garage.

Not that he wasn’t prepared for that kind of work. While in the military, Hernandez repaired and maintained jeeps, large trucks and other heavy equipment. His abilities helped him quickly move into technician roles at Snelling, the Overhaul Base, South and East Metro, where he spent the final 18 years of his career. Over time, Hernandez became a confident and efficient technician, often finishing his assignments well before he was expected to do so. 

At East Metro, Hernandez focused on inspections – “finding problems for other people to fix,” as he described the role – and spent more than a decade as a bay service technician. As a bay service technician, Hernandez spent his mornings troubleshooting buses that wouldn’t start, replacing headlight or taillight bulbs and making other quick fixes as operators prepared to leave the garage each morning.

While his career was devoted to bus maintenance, Hernandez still found plenty of opportunities to get behind the wheel. At Metro Transit, he regularly signed up to drive before or after his shift, covering work that couldn’t be assigned to an operator. He also helped deliver new transit buses made in Minnesota, driving them across the country to their final destinations.

Hernandez retired in February 2019 with more than 45 years of service. After retiring from Metro Transit, Hernandez said he planned to continue driving buses between the Twin Cities and the Mystic Lake Casino.


Terry Whitson, #304 

Posted by Christina McHenry | Friday, January 11, 2019 2:07:00 PM

Terry Whitson

Terry Whitson thought he’d make a career as an industrial welder. But when the company he was working for moved out of state, he found himself looking for a new line of work. His then father-in-law was working as a bus operator and suggested he try driving for a living. “It was the last thing that I ever would have thought of,” Whitson said. Even so, he applied and started shortly thereafter as a part-time operator at what was then called the Shingle Creek Garage. Whitson would ultimately spend almost 34 years as a bus operator.

Whitson remembers being pretty nervous as he started out on his new path. But he liked the challenge, the variety and the clean uniforms. So he stuck with it. After a few years at Shingle Creek (now the Martin J. Ruter Garage), he became a full-time operator and moved to the old Snelling Garage, where he found himself in unfamiliar territory. “I didn’t know St. Paul at all so it was kind of a crazy time,” he said. Before long, though, he was back in the comfortable environs of Minneapolis. From his home in North Minneapolis, Whitson could take the bus, walk, bike or occasionally even hitchhike to work. Working at Heywood was more than convenient, though. At the garage, Whitson found himself surrounded by friends and family. “I was really surprised how many people worked here that I already knew,” he said.

As a longtime extraboard operator, Whitson experienced a lot of different routes. But for nearly a decade he drove Route 16 between downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. Whitson said he enjoyed the route because it was “straight ahead, not a lot of hills and few turns.” He also spent many years on Route 7.

Shortly before retiring, Whitson earned a five-year Master Operator award for his attendance, customer service and safe driving skills. He also retired with a 29-year safe driving record and as a top finisher in several Bus Roadeos. The accomplishments were all the more meaningful because they followed a several-year period in which Whitson admittedly took the job less seriously than he should have. With support from his managers, peers and family, he charted a new path. Over time, he became something of a role model himself, passing along advice and answering questions from newer operators.

In retirement, Whitson planned to spend more time fishing, skiing and boating on the Mississippi River. “I call it my great escape,” he said. “Out there, it’s just water, wildlife and blue skies.”

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