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2014

Richard Maurer, #564 

Operator
| Friday, July 11, 2014 9:52:00 AM

Richard Maurer never envisioned himself as a bus driver. But that’s exactly what he became. Maurer began his career at Metro Transit on May 27, 1975, and drove for the next 39 years. Maurer said the job had its challenges but that he enjoyed learning new routes and becoming familiar with regular customers. “It’s a tough job. We do it well and I’m proud of that,” he said at his retirement. Maurer started at Nicollet Garage but spent more than three decades at South Garage. In addition to being an operator, Maurer worked as a trainer, instructor and a garage coordinator. In retirement, he plans to spend time working on house projects, traveling, golfing and fishing.

2014

Paul “Fred” Eshleman, #3004 

Head stockkeeper
| Tuesday, July 08, 2014 2:07:00 PM

Paul Eshleman

Paul “Fred” Eshleman was working an auto dealership when a friend suggested he consider joining Metro Transit. Eshleman followed that advice, started at Metro Transit in early 1976 and spent the next 38 years working in various departments at Metro Transit’s Overhaul Base. After spending time in the brake and body shops, Eshleman ended his career as head stockeeper, where he was responsible for making sure mechanics at Metro Transit’s Overhaul Base and service garages had all the parts they needed to maintain and repair buses. Eshleman said technology made it easier to track the tens of thousands of parts in Metro Transit’s inventory, but that he missed the personal connections he had when purchasing was a more manual task. Eshleman retired on July 8, 2014, with over 38 years of service. A self-described “creature of habit,” Eshleman said he would miss the people he worked with and the routine of coming into work every day. In retirement, he plans to spend more time with his family and volunteering.

2014

Stephen Lischalk, #538 

Operator
| Tuesday, July 01, 2014 9:18:00 AM

Stephen Lischalk couldn’t see himself kneading dough for the rest of his life. So, early in his career, he stopped working at Wonder Bread and started driving buses. Lischalk began at Metro Transit on April 12, 1976, and retired in July 2014 with 38 years of service. During his time at Metro Transit, Lischalk drove dozens of routes and worked at the old Northside Garage, the old Snelling Garage and Nicollet Garage before spending the last 15 years at South Garage. Lischalk also spent several years working as a driver with Project Mobility. Lischalk said he enjoyed working with the public as well as being outside and having some independence. In retirement, he planned to travel the country in an RV with his wife Doreen.

2014

Beth Fischer, #705 

Operator
| Friday, June 06, 2014 2:09:00 PM

Beth Fischer

Growing up, Beth Fishcher was deathly afraid of buses. Looking for a new line of work and attracted by a Metro Transit hiring campaign, she decided to face her fears. Fischer applied and was hired as an operator in February 1980. Her fear faded and she spent the next 34 years of her life driving customers throughout the metro. Fishcher started her career at Nicollet Garage and spent time at nearly every other service garage before ending her career at East Metro, her favorite location. Fischer said she enjoyed interacting with customers, many of whom became close friends, and was especially fond of driving on quiet winter nights. “There’s a tranquility that just absorbs you as you’re driving down the street,” she said. “It’s one of the most beautiful things.” Fischer operated many different routes from Mound to Stillwater and everywhere in between. But Route 67 was among her favorites because it served a close-knit group of residents whom she came to know well. “It was a very personal route,” she said. In retirement, Fischer said she plans to spend time relaxing, fishing, gardening and playing Bingo.

2014

Patricia Wright, #611 

Operator
| Sunday, May 04, 2014 11:12:00 AM

When she began her job as a Metro Transit operator on June 1, 1976, Patricia Wright figured she’d be around a couple of years and then move on. She ended up sticking around nearly four decades, retiring in May 2014. “At first, I was just challenging myself to get the job,” said Wright, who was among just over a dozen female operators at Metro Transit when she was hired. “But once I got here I found I really liked the job so I stayed.” Wright spent the majority of her 38-year career at Metro Transit at Nicollet Garage, driving dozens of routes throughout the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs. She said the best part of the job was getting to enjoy the time outside in a constantly-changing environment. “I don’t like being cooped up,” she said. “I tried that kind of work and it wasn’t me.” Wright said she also enjoyed interacting with the public and having the opportunity to offer encouragement to customers in need of support. In retirement, Wright plans to spend time with her father and family members and to travel to Florida, California and her hometown of Monroe, La.

2014

Carl Rukavina, #305 

Operator
| Thursday, May 01, 2014 10:25:00 AM

After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1973, Carl Rukavina hit the road and wound up in Alaska bussing workers to and from work sites on the Trans-Alaska pipeline. After returning to the Twin Cities a few years later, he found his second-act as a bus driver, joining Metro Transit on June 19, 1978. Rukavina began his career at the old Snelling Garage and moved to the East Metro Garage when it opened in 2001. Rukavina retired in May 2014 with 35 years of service. Rukavina drove several East Metro routes during his career and was especially active during State Fair service. “The State Fair was always enjoyable because you’re helping people have fun,” he said. Rukavina also spent time as an instructor and a driver for the precursor to Metro Mobility, Project Mobility, which he said was particularly rewarding. “I felt like I was really helping people,” Rukavina said. “You very quickly realize all the problems you don’t have. It was very rewarding.” In retirement, Rukavina plans to travel, write and record music and spend time with his family.

2014

Bobby Logan, #769 

Operator
| Wednesday, April 30, 2014 9:26:00 AM

As soon as Bobby Logan got hired at Metro Transit, he knew he’d never want to look for another job. And he didn’t. Logan spent nearly 39 years as an operator, working from October 1975 through April 2014. “I thought, as long as I could be here, I’d be here,” Logan said. “This was it.” Logan was committed to the job not only because it offered security and the means to raise his family of three children but because he truly enjoyed the work. At 23-years-old, Logan began his career at the old Northside Garage. After Northside closed, he moved to Nicollet and later to Snelling Garage. He spent the end of his career at East Metro Garage, where he came to know many of his regular customers as friends (among them was his next door neighbor). A 37-year Safe Operator, Logan grew up in rural Mississippi where he worked as a chauffeur and school bus driver. He and his family moved to Minnesota to find work and settled in St. Paul. Logan’s two brothers also worked for Metro Transit. In retirement, Logan plans to take fishing trips to Canada and spend his winters in Mississippi.

2014

Sheila Miller, #112 

Bus Stop Coordinator
| Saturday, March 01, 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."

2014

Robert "Bob" Buck, #3000 

Stockkeeper
| Saturday, February 01, 2014 11:20:00 AM

Robert Buck

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.

2014

Mike Qualy, #293 

Operator
| 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.

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