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.”
Saturday, August 1, 2015 9:58:00 AM
While he was in high school, Tom Mevissen spent time working at his father’s Phillips 66 service station. The experience led to his interest in auto mechanics and, eventually, to the doors of Metro Transit. After a short time as a taxi driver, Mevissen began as a Cleaner at Nicollet Garage on Oct. 17, 1977. Within just a few years he was working as a mechanic. In all, he spent 25 years working in service garages performing a variety of tasks. While his career began at Nicollet, Mevissen also worked at the old Northside Garage, the old Snelling Garage, Heywood Garage and the Overhaul Base. “It just seemed like it (working in the garage) was a natural fit for me,” Mevissen said. “I enjoyed all the jobs I had.” Nonetheless, Mevissen sought a different path and began training to get his boiler license. After receiving his certification, he moved into building maintenance, first at Overhaul Base and later at the Northstar Operations & Maintenance Facility. Mevissen said he enjoyed being at Northstar because it gave him an opportunity to see another side of Metro Transit. “Even though I didn’t work on the trains, it was fun to be around them and learn how they work,” he said. Mevissen retired in August 2015 with more than 37 years of service. In retirement, he plans to travel on his motorcycle and spend more “quality time” with his family, including three children and three grandchildren.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015 12:46:00 PM
When Tim Cusick started at Metro Transit in March 1980, his father bet him $1 he wouldn’t last more than a year. He won the bet handedly, building a career that lasted more than 35 years. While he stayed with the company, his roles changed several times. Cusick began as a Cleaner, washing buses at the Old Snelling Garage, but soon moved into a position as an overnight mechanic at the Martin J. Ruter Garage (formerly Shingle Creek). He later spent time at the old Northside Garage, the Overhaul Base and South Garage, working at different times as a Skilled Helper, Parts Cleaner, Fueler and in the Body Shop. Working on buses was a fitting role for Cusick: as one of ten children, his father often entertained him and his siblings by giving them a box of Cracker Jacks and letting them ride Route 12 to and from their St. Paul home. In 2009, Cusick transitioned to Facilities, working in building maintenance, installing and repairing waiting shelters, landscaping and replacing thousands of pavers at light-rail stations. Throughout his career, Cusick said he was motivated to work hard. “I had a golden opportunity to work in a lot of different places, but whatever I did, I owned it and took pride in doing it right,” he said. In July 2015, Cusick celebrated his retirement alongside his wife and two daughters. In retirement he plans to spend more time fishing, traveling in the U.S. and abroad, working on house projects and entertaining children who live nearby. Cusick has also “adopted” several neighborhood children whom he plans to keep entertained.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015 10:10:00 AM
Before Jerry Olson started working at the Metropolitan Transit Commission, he did not have a sterling driving record. In fact, he’d wrecked so many of his personal vehicles early in life that he’d earned the nickname “Crash.” After four decades of driving buses safely around the metro, the moniker had taken on more than a little bit of irony. Olson’s 41 years and 9 months of safe driving is believed to be among the best ever recorded among Metro Transit’s operators. His record as a safe driver is just one of the reasons Olson was remembered at his retirement as one of the agency’s most beloved operators. Olson spent 18 years as a trainer and had earned a reputation for being a strong mentor to his peers. He also won praise for his customer service skills and deep knowledge of the bus network (as an on-call operator, Olson drove many of Metro Transit’s routes). Olson’s commitment to safe driving and customer service earned him 28 Outstanding Operator awards. In 2014, the Minnesota Public Transit Association named him their Minnesota Bus Operator of the Year. Olson spent the bulk of his career at South Garage, where he met his wife Lynnette Olson, a fellow operator (#1624). Olson retired in July 2015 after nearly 43 years of service. His retirement plans include spending more time with his family, including five children and eight grandchildren, camping, travel and golf. Before retiring, Olson took one final trip that included friends, family and General Manager Brian Lamb. Pulling in for the last time, Olson said he was sad to part ways but that he was excited for the next phase of his life to begin. “I’ve spent more than two-thirds of my life here (at Metro Transit), so it wasn’t an easy decision to retire,” he said at the time. “But there comes a time when you just have to say goodbye.”
Friday, June 5, 2015 2:37:00 PM
Stephen Babcock was working as a truck driver when a roommate encouraged him to consider applying at Metro Transit. Babcock was hired and began as a bus operator at the old Northside Garage on March 5, 1973. Babcock spent nearly nine years driving before he was medically disqualified and transferred with ATU support to vault puller. Babcock also spent time working as a farebox reader, money counter, revenue clerk, data collector, cleaner and Transit Information representative, one of the richest and most diverse careers among agency employees. Babcock spent the final 20 years of his career as a stockkeeper. Babcock was a strong advocate for the ATU who believed in a balanced work place and that you could be a good employee and union member. After a strike in 1994, he joined the ATU Education Committee. He also contributed to the ATU paper, The 1005 Line. Babock retired in June 2015 with more than 42 years of service. With his talent in computers and his love of genealogy, he hopes to produce a book with his family tree that has over 6,000 documented individuals. He is also planning to research and visit the places of his ancestors.
Monday, June 1, 2015 12:42:00 PM
When Frank Collins started as a bus operator in 1979, he found a place in agency history by becoming one of the first two drivers to work at Metro Transit on a part-time basis. But his 25-hours-a-week schedule didn’t last long. After just eight months on the job, Collins decided to move into a full-time role and make a career in transit. “It seemed like a good, solid future,” he said. “Where I grew up, getting one job for life was the norm and this seemed like a place where I could stay a while.” Collins career took him to nearly every garage, including Nicollet, old Northside, old Snelling and South, where he spent the last 15 years before his retirement. He began working as a Relief Dispatcher around 1983 and moved into a full-time Dispatcher role in 1998. As a Dispatcher, Collins said he enjoyed doing what he could to help his fellow operators. “I like to try and keep them happy,” Collins said. “They’ve got a hard job, so when I can I give them what they want.” Collins retired in June 2015 with more than 36 years of service. In retirement, he plans to spend time traveling, enjoying his grandchildren and pursuing several hobbies, including fishing, brewing beer and gardening.
Friday, May 1, 2015 10:40:00 AM
Terrance Summers was considering a career in music when he decided that working at Metro Transit might offer a bit more stability for his wife and three children. So in 1984, he put down the guitar and started driving the bus. His career began at the then Shingle Creek Garage and eventually to stints at Heywood, Snelling and East Metro. He spent the final ten years of his career at South Garage. Summers said he enjoyed driving because it gave him an opportunity to meet people and make new friends. One of his most memorable days on the job was the Halloween blizzard of 1991, when he was stuck for more than six hours at the Theodore Wirth Chalet. Summers retired in May 2015, with more than 30 years of service. In retirement, he plans to spend more time with family, traveling and playing music.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015 10:38:00 AM
When Joe Stauffer came to Metro Transit in 1980, he had little experience working on diesel engines. But after moving from cleaner to skilled helper to mechanic, he had little choice but to dig in and give it his best shot. “You watched other mechanics or were given a job and had to figure it out,” Stauffer said. “You just tore into it, whatever it was.” Three decades later, Stauffer had picked up more than a few tricks of the trade. During his time at Metro Transit, he spent time at every service garage and the Overhaul Base. His work included transmission replacements, welding, HVAC, electrical and a variety of other tasks. In addition to the routine work, Stauffer prided himself on finding ways of making garage more efficient. In one example, he welded a hitch to a service bay cart so trailers could be used to quickly move batteries around the garage. “I found lots of things that made the job just a little bit easier,” he said. Stauffer grew up on St. Paul’s northside and frequently took transit to and from school. At the time, he had no way of knowing he’d end up spending 34 years working on buses. But Stauffer said he was glad to have made a career at Metro Transit and will miss working alongside many of his peers. Stauffer retired in April 2015 with plans to spend more time with his family, including two sons and two daughters, and to work on a number of classic cars, including a 1928 Model A.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015 10:16:00 AM
Pat Parnow was working as a photographer, selling her work at art fairs, when she sought a job as a Metro Transit bus operator. She began her career at Metro Transit in August 1980 out of Nicollet Garage. As a part-time operator, Parnow was able to drive in the morning and still have time during the day to continue her photography work. The job also provided some inspiration: driving in Minneapolis and the west metro she would often pass scenes she thought would make for good photos and return later with camera in hand. Parnow said she also liked observing all of the changes that occurred and experiencing all types of weather, including quiet roads in bad weather. Among her most memorable experiences was an on-board fire that she put out shortly after pulling out of the garage. Parnow also met her wife through a customer she knew. Parnow retired in April 2015 with 34 years of service. In retirement, Parnow continues to work on her photography and is involved in many area art fairs.