Monday, January 11, 2016 1:27:00 PM
Sharyn Basso was working full-time in retail when she saw an ad for part-time bus operators and realized she could earn the same amount of money while having more time to spend with her two children. So she made the switch, becoming one of the Metropolitan Transit Commission’s first part-time operators. Having some previous experience driving her then-husband’s semi-truck, she transitioned easily. “I could relate to the size, which helped,” she said. “I wasn’t afraid, but it was kind of exciting and very different.” Basso’s confidence grew behind the wheel and she eventually moved back into a full-time role. She ultimately spent 31 years as an Operator and Dispatcher. Her career began at Shingle Creek (now the Martin J. Ruter Garage), where she drove the Route 10 bus she’d grown up taking to school. She also spent time at the Heywood, Old Snelling and East Metro garages. Basso spent the last eight years of her career at South Garage, where she worked as a Mark-Up Dispatcher ensuring operators were in place to cover all the day’s assignments. Basso said she enjoyed driving, particularly in spring and fall, but was drawn to the Dispatcher role by a close friend who showed her the ropes. As an extraboard driver, she also knew what it was like to be on the other side. “I wanted to use my knowledge to help other drivers,” she said. Basso thrived in the role, enjoying the constant variety and challenges that came each day. That activity, she said, is what she’ll miss most about working at Metro Transit. Even so, she is looking forward to having less on her plate in she plans on doing is sleeping until she wakes up. After that, she said, “I’m just going to do what comes.”
Saturday, January 2, 2016 12:30:00 PM
After more than 42 years of service, there isn’t much Leonard Cline hasn’t done when it comes to bus maintenance. After beginning his career as a fueler at Nicollet Garage, Cline moved to the old Snelling Garage and was among the first employees to work out of the Overhaul Base when it opened in 1980. Learning as he went, Cline rebuilt transmissions, fixed windows, fareboxes and upholstery on at least a dozen different types of buses. He spent a decade repairing alternators and starters in the electric shop before finishing his career in the machine shop, where he supported other mechanics by fabricating tools and repairing small components. Cline said he enjoyed the work because it involved problem-solving and offered a lot of variety from day-to-day. As a single parent, working nights also allowed him to stay active in his children’s lives. There was also a lot of camaraderie among those he worked with. “You kind of looked forward to coming to work just to see what was going to happen that day,” he said. While he hadn’t expected to have such a long career at Metro Transit, his path wasn’t altogether surprising. Cline grew up near the old Snelling Garage and his father worked as a streetcar motorman and later as a Janitor for the Metropolitan Transit Commission. In retirement, Cline said he’d like to remain active by becoming involved in the Minnesota Transportation Museum or the Twin City Model Railroad Museum. He also plans to spend more time with family, including his three children and three grandchildren, golfing and traveling.
Friday, January 1, 2016 3:57:00 PM
When Kevin Krepsky started working as a Cleaner, he didn’t anticipate making a career out of transit. But what might have been a temporary stay became less and less so as he worked his way up from the Cleaner role into daytime jobs as a Helper, Skilled Helper and Mechanic-Technician. As his responsibilities grew, Krepsky found gratification from diagnosing and fixing problems. He particularly enjoyed working on the heating and cooling systems, which involved the entire bus. As a Mechanic-Technician, Krepsky worked at several garages, including South, Ruter, Nicollet and the Overhaul Base. He spent most of his time at the old Snelling Garage, moving to a much cleaner, less polluted East Metro when it opened in 2001. “It was kind of strange (moving from old Snelling to East Metro) but we were all looking forward to a change,” he said. (Krepsky’s brother Darrell also spent more than 30 years in Bus Maintenance, retiring in early 2016.) Krepsky spent the last nine years of his career in Facilities Maintenance, fixing and maintaining support buildings. He was the first Facilities Maintenance staff member to work at the METRO Green Line’s Operations and Maintenance Facility, in Lowertown, starting there a year before rail service began. The move was inspired by his interest in trains, as well as an interest in having a new experience. “A lot of people thought because it was a new building that there wouldn’t be much to do, but it was really the opposite,” he said. After nearly 37 years of service, Krepsky retired in March 2016. In retirement, he plans to spend more time with his family, including his wife and two children, and pursuing his hobbies – biking, woodworking and restoring a 1980 Corvette.
Friday, January 1, 2016 3:55:00 PM
Shortly after graduating from high school, Darrell Krepsky took a job as a third-shift cleaner sweeping buses at the old Northside Garage. He assumed it would be a stepping stone to something else. But it wasn’t. Within weeks, Krepsky moved into a Fueler position. Shortly after that he became a Mechanic-Technician, a role he held for more than three decades. “I was learning more and more, and at some point there became no reason to leave,” Krepsky said. During his career, Krepsky worked at every garage except for old Snelling and East Metro and on several generations of buses. He spent nearly a decade working on powertrains and 15 years as an AC mechanic. Krepsky said he enjoyed the daily challenges the job presented and the variety of the work. “I always took pride in what I was doing and always tried to do my best,” he said. The other major appeal was the people he worked with and the friends he made over the years. When he retired in January 2016 with more than 35 years of service, he said those friendships are what he will miss most about the job. But Krepsky has plans for his next chapter. In retirement, Krepsky hopes to find a part-time job doing something completely different than he’s done in the past and to spend more time trapshooting. He may also visit Italy, where his wife Cathy’s grandparents are from.
Friday, January 1, 2016 2:15:00 PM
Growing up in Minneapolis, Gregory Gaustad regularly rode the bus to trade school downtown. And while he never thought he’d be the one behind the wheel, life led him to that exact spot and kept him there for the next 36 years. “I never really gave it much thought – it just kind of happened,” Gaustad said shortly before retiring in January 2016. Gaustad’s career began at the Old Northside Garage; he spent a decade at Nicollet Garage and closed out his career at Heywood Garage. Gaustad said driving came naturally and that he enjoyed the variety he got from being an extraboard driver assigned to different routes each day. Among his more memorable moments came in 1987, driving through a flooded area on Route 17. “You could see the water coming up the stairs and then down the aisle,” he said. “I had to get a little creative and go around.” Gaustad said his career was otherwise relatively quiet and uneventful. But he enjoyed visiting with his fellow operators and passengers, whose chit-chat made the days go a little faster. One reason for the relative calm was Gaustad’s patience and safe driving abilities – he recorded 28 years of safe driving during his career. In retirement, Gaustad plans to spend more time Up North ice fishing, deer hunting and with his family, including two daughters and one son.
Friday, January 1, 2016 10:32:00 AM
Silas “Sy” Sharp never shied away from work. After serving in the Korean War, he spent his days working as a heavy equipment operator with the City of Minneapolis and his nights at the Minneapolis Athletic Club, full-time jobs that took 16 hours of his day even as he studied management at the University of Minnesota. In 1963, on the advice of a club member who worked in transit, he took a job in bus maintenance at what was then known as the Metropolitan Transit Commission, or MTC. For 22 years, he held full-time jobs with both the city and MTC. Sharp retired from the city after 30 years, and in early 2016 retired from Metro Transit with 52 years of service – the longest tenure in agency history. “I didn’t get much sleep sometimes – I averaged about three hours of sleep, four maybe,” Sharp said shortly after his retirement. “I’m the type of guy, I just love working.” At 28 years old, Sharp began his career as a cleaner sweeping buses at the old Northside Garage in Minneapolis. He later became what was known as a “hustler,” fueling and moving buses around the garage. His strong work ethic and history as a Sgt. in the Army led him to be recruited as a garage foreman, the first of several management positions he held in Bus Maintenance. Sharp also worked as a foreman at the old Snelling Garage and as the Maintenance Manager at the Nicollet and Martin J. Ruter garages. Sharp is particularly proud of his tenure at Nicollet, an underperforming garage he was tasked with turning around. “There were a lot of people here who said it couldn’t be done,” Sharp said. “I said, ‘There’s no such thing as can’t,’ because that’s what I was taught. That it can be done if you apply yourself. And Nicollet went from being one of the worst to the best. I was very proud of that.” In retirement, Sharp is spending more time with his family, including wife Mary, three daughters, two sons and 12 grandchildren, enjoying a new home in Florida and fishing.
Tuesday, December 1, 2015 2:28:00 PM
To continue receiving unemployment assistance, Bonnie Green needed to prove that she was making efforts to find a job. So when her husband, already working as a bus driver, suggested applying for the same job, she took the advice. To her surprise, she got the gig. “It wasn’t like it was a lifelong dream or anything, but I said ‘You have a job, and I need one,’” she said. Even so, Green didn’t think it would last. When she started in June 1979 she intended on staying only long enough to avoid being charged for the army green uniform the job required. “It would have cost me $250, and that was a lot of money for an ugly uniform I’d never wear again,” she said. Though it might not have been her original plan, Green ended up spending more than 33 years behind the wheel. Green retired in 2006 and returned in 2009 for another six years of driving (her first retirement came on April Fools’ Day, allowing her to brush that initial exit off as a ruse). A lifelong St. Paul resident, Green was the first part-time operator at the old Snelling Garage; when that garage closed, she move to East Metro. She drove every route in and around St. Paul, and was particularly fond of the old Route 5, with service between St. Paul and Inver Grove Heights, and the old Route 29 that went through West St. Paul. Green said she stayed with the job because she enjoyed driving, getting to know her fellow operators and visiting with customers who seemed to appreciate her friendly demeanor. “A lot of people are really grateful for any little help you can give them,” she said. Among her more memorable moments was the time she pulled up to a women in labor, covering her legs with a sweater until an ambulance could arrive. And while initially intimidated by the size of the bus, she turned out to be a natural, recording more than 25 years of safe driving. Green retired in December 2015 with plans to visit several national parks and stay active by going to the gym, golfing and bowling.
Sunday, November 1, 2015 10:27:00 AM
Just out of high school, Delroy Shafer faced a decision: he could complete Dunwoody’s electrician program or start working full-time and get his education on the job. He got to work, beginning as a Cleaner at the Metropolitan Transit Commission on Aug. 17, 1979. So began a 26-year education in Bus Maintenance. “Once I got here, I just decided I’d stay and train on the job,” Schafer said. “And I really picked up a lot, not just from experience but from working with people who really had a lot of talent.” Schafer did eventually go back to school, though, taking night classes to earn his electricians license. In 2007, he started working in facilities, doing electrical work at rail platforms and other transit properties. In the final three years of his career, Schafer worked as one of two Facilities Supervisors leading a team of around 20 people charged with maintaining Metro Transit’s support facilities. With a combined total of around 2.4 million square feet, there was a lot to keep up with. But the work was rewarding and allowed him to stay involved in one of his favorite parts of the job – trouble-shooting and resolving issues. Inspired by growing up in a union household, Schafer was also an active member of the ATU. Before the opening of the state’s first light-rail line, Schafer was part of a team that toured other properties and worked with management to craft rules for light-rail’s union workers. He was the first union steward to work on behalf of light-rail union members. While involved in the union, Schafer met his wife, Kellie Miller, who retired as the Manager of Scheduling in August 2015. Looking back, Schafer said he was grateful to have worked alongside so many skilled and knowledgeable people – including brothers Wayne and Dan – and to have had a reliable income that allowed him to put his two children through college. “Metro Transit is really the land of opportunity,” he said. “There are just so many different roads you can take in this company…this place provided pretty much everything.” Schafer retired in November 2015 with 36 years of service. In retirement, he planned to spend more time fishing and boating at his northern Minnesota lake home and to pursue a couple of projects – restoring a 1971 Yamaha dirt bike similar to the one he’d had as a teenager and a 27-year-old Boston whaler boat.
Assist. Director-Facilities Maintenance
Tuesday, September 1, 2015 10:28:00 AM
Wayne Schafer was working at the A Mill loading 100-pound sacks of flour onto freight trains when his dad advised him there were jobs available at the Metropolitan Transit Commission. Wanting more variety – and a job that would be a little easier on his joints – he applied. Schafer began his career in transit in April 1976, as a cleaner at the Old Snelling Garage. He later held jobs as a helper, fueler and mechanic at the old Northsisde, Shingle Creek (Ruter) and Nicollet garages. In 1984, Schafer moved from bus to building maintenance, fulfilling his continued desire for a job that wasn’t guided by routine. “Once I saw people doing that, I knew that was where I wanted to go,” he said. “There was no questioning it. It appealed to me a lot more than working on greasy buses.” Schafer’s tenure in building maintenance started at the Overhaul Base and later included stints at the Nicollet, South and Heywood garages. The job had just the kind of variety Schafer was looking for, involving everything from the installation of overhead doors to HVAC repairs and snow removal. “It was a jack-of-all-trades kind of job,” he said. “You worked to your comfort level or you just took something apart and tried to put it back together – it was always a self-learning process.” In 1999, Schafer took a supervisor roll and became the first member of Metro Transit’s fledgling Engineering & Facilities Department (“I had to find my own office,” he said). Within a year, he became the Manager of Facilities and took an active role in planning new buildings and transit facilities. Schafer was involved in the design of the East Metro Garage, several building renovations and the creation of dedicated space for Public Facilities and Transit Police’s East Command (Transfer Road). Schafer also participated in the planning for the Blue and Green Lines, Northstar and light-rail extensions. One of his enduring contributions was coming up with the concept for the standard customer waiting shelter, which prominently features Metro Transit’s logo (the shelter was inspired by a Hennepin County shelter placed in North Minneapolis). Over the course of his career, Public Facilities grew from 14 to 41 technicians and workers. Schafer said he was proud to have been a part of the department’s growth and the expansion of the region’s transit network. “It’s been a very rewarding job, because I think I did make a difference,” he said. Schafer retired in September 2015 with plans to spend time riding his dirt bike and going back to the thing that got him into building maintenance to begin with – “puttering” around.”
Manager of Scheduling
Saturday, August 1, 2015 10:00:00 AM
Kellie Miller wasn’t quite sure what kind of work she wanted to do when she took her father’s advice and interviewed for a job at the Transit Information Center (Miller’s father, Richard “Dick” Miller worked for the company as a dispatcher and operator). The decision led to a 37-year career in which she held multiple positions and leader for the ATU-Local 1005 union. After spending her first five years at TIC, Miller moved to Metro Mobility, where she spent three years scheduling bus and cab service for those who could not use regular route transit. From there, she moved to the Revenue Department where she worked as a balancing clerk, balancing farebox revenue. Miller then took a job as a timekeeper in the Payroll Department doing payroll for drivers and mechanics. Miller became a union board member in 1985 and in 1997 became a full-time union representative, where she was involved in grievance proceedings and contract negotiations. In 2006, she returned to Payroll for a short time, and then moved to the position of Asset Management Clerk. She moved to Service Development in 2008 to become a Schedule Maker. In 2012, Miller was named Manager of Scheduling, leading a team of five Schedule Makers, a Scheduling Analyst and a Bus Stop Coordinator ensuring quarterly service changes were delivered on time and in a cost-effective and efficient manner, in accordance with the ATU contract. Miller retired in August 2015 with plans to travel, watch Supercross races, fish, boat and spend time with family. Reflecting on her career, Miller said: “I always felt like I was helping people, whether it was helping passengers in TIC and Metro Mobility, Payroll making sure the employees were paid, ATU helping with union issues and in scheduling making better schedules for Operators & passengers.”