Growing up, David Lefebvre thought he’d enjoy being a pilot. But as an adult he ended up flying just once, an experience he didn’t enjoy. He did, however, find himself in a driver’s seat for a large part of his career. Encouraged by his brother, a 21-year bus operator, Lefebvre joined what was then the Metropolitan Transit Commission in 1986. He spent the next eight years driving buses and the following 24 years working in bus and facilities maintenance.
As an operator Lefebvre, split his time between the Nicollet and South garages. Low in seniority, the first route he was given involved bringing groups of rowdy teenagers to and from a roller rink in St. Louis Park. “All they told me was to put my foot to the gas and not to stop until I got downtown,” he remembered. The job remained interesting, too. When heavy rain fell in 1987, he found himself having to back an articulated bus back onto Interstate 494 to avoid driving through standing water. To keep a group of suspected pick-pockets from exiting the bus before police could arrive, he locked the doors and they escaped out a rear window.
While he enjoyed driving and interacting with most of his passengers, those scenarios and a schedule that required him to work a lot of late nights and weekends ultimately led Lefebvre to pursue a new line of work in Bus Maintenance. He’d tinkered some with cars and was confident he could learn the skills he needed by working alongside experienced technicians. And that’s what happened: Lefebvre spent two years as a cleaner, five years as a fueler and then became a technician, swapping radiators, bellows, rods and doing other hoist work. Lefebvre’s time in bus maintenance was spent largely at South Garage. It was the right place at the right time: at South, Lefebvre met the woman who would later become his wife, Beth Radke, who was then working as an operator.
After nearly a decade, Lefebvre had, by his own estimation, become an “above average” technician. But all the heavy lifting was beginning to wear on him, so he decided to try his hand at building maintenance. He spent a few years at the Overhaul Base, returned to South and spent the final eight years of his career at Nicollet Garage. In building maintenance, Lefebvre did electrical work, plumbing and a variety of other tasks, once again learning on the job. “I like fixing things and that’s basically all building maintenance is – fixing anything that breaks,” he said.
On his final day of work, Lefebvre said he’d miss many of the people he worked with over the years. But he also had a lot to look forward to. He and Beth recently had their first child, Ruby. Lefebvre also hoped to spend more time golfing, fishing, hunting and building a cabin on a piece of Wisconsin property he’d owned for the past 20 years. “It’s really been fun being here,” he said. “It’ll be sad and a little strange not coming in after all these years.”