Skip to main content

Great People

Saluting decades of service to our customers

The accomplishments of those who have dedicated their careers to Metro Transit inspire us to do our best work. We are proud to honor members of the Metro Transit family who retire with more than 30 years of service here. Retirees are also honored with plaques on board buses and trains, and in the Metro Transit Wall of Fame at the Metro Transit Police & Office Facility.

Marjory Burns 

Posted by John Komarek | Thursday, May 4, 2023 2:13:00 PM

In Northern Minnesota, Marjory Burns grew up as the youngest of 12 kids and went to school in a one-room schoolhouse. It’s there she learned the lessons that would propel her through life.

“We used to live off the land and most days I didn’t have lunch at school,” Burns said. “It made me what I am – a workaholic. I made sure my kids never went without.”

And work, she did. Burns put in more hours at more jobs than one might think was possible – and throughout had six children of her own.

“At one time I was putting in 120 hours a week,” she said.

She heard about Metro Transit while driving school buses. She eventually applied to be a bus operator but also for a job at the post office. And for about 7 years, she kept up her workaholic lifestyle as a part-time operator and a rural carrier. Eventually, she left the post office to go full time here.

“I chose Metro Transit because it had better benefits and retirement,” Burns said. “My retirement will cover everything that I’ll need.”

It wasn’t just the benefits that attracted her, however. Throughout the years, she spent most of her career at Heywood Garage and operated every single route that they offered.

“I love driving a bus,” she said. “My worst nightmare was sitting behind a desk.”

Onboard, she loved making people laugh, especially when it helped deescalate a situation, or at the garage with her coworkers. Eventually, she did find herself behind a desk as a dispatcher. However, she discovered that she could still do what’s important to her.

“I try to help people – that’s my job,” Burns said. “If I’m not helping people, I’m not happy.”

After all these years, however, she’s ready to retire and spend lots of time with her six children and six grandchildren. She also plans to cruise the world, starting this year with six back-to-back ocean cruises.


Matt Homan 

Facilities Technician
Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, February 9, 2023 8:32:00 PM

Matt Homan didn’t have to look far to see that working in transit could be a good way to make a living. Homan’s two older brothers, Jan and Jake, began at what was then known as the Metropolitan Transit Commission in 1975 and 1978. In 1984, Homan began his career as a fueler at the newly opened South Garage. Like his brothers, Homan also stuck around – he retired in February 2023 after more than 38 years of service.

When Homan began, he was much younger than many of his peers and it took time to gain seniority. He spent his first 16 years working overnights as a fueler and technician. As time went on, though, he was able to rise through the ranks and take on more and different responsibilities. At the Overhaul Base, he worked on transmissions, at the electrical bench, swapped engines, spent time in the frame shop and worked on non-revenue vehicles. Some of his favorite jobs, he said, were also the biggest – transmissions, differentials, trailing arms and suspension.

Homan worked on cars throughout high school and attended vocational school after graduating. Still, he continued learning throughout his career. The variety and chance to continue learning on the job, he said, helped keep him interested over the years. The job had some less-than-ideal moments, though. After exchanging a broken down bus on a particularly cold winter day, Homan recalled having to wait four hours for a tow truck and trying to stay warm by sitting on top of the engine. “You forget how cold cold can be,” he said.

In 2009, Homan moved to building maintenance as a facilities technician. His years in building maintenance were spent entirely at the Ruter Garage, a building he became quite familiar with and for six years was solely responsible for. “I’ve been here so long I know every wire hanging from every rafter,” he said. He also took pride in his work: “I always thought how the building looked and how things worked was a reflection of me,” Homan said.

In retirement, Homan planned to put his sawmill to work, cutting lumber and building a cabin.


Steve Schoephoerster 

Police Officer
Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, February 2, 2023 12:58:00 PM

Steve Schoephoerster’s father thought his job as a bus operator was the best he’d ever had. So, when Schoephoerster turned 21 years old and was able to apply, he did. The decision led to a nearly 39-year career that included time as an operator, dispatcher, transit supervisor and police officer, and to a third-generation of transit workers.

Schoephoerster began his career at what was then known as the Shingle Creek Garage. He spent nearly a decade working there and at Heywood Garage as an operator and part-time dispatcher before moving into the Transit Control Center as an overnight supervisor.

Schoephoerster had been interested in becoming a police officer from a young age and had tried once before to enter what at the time was a highly competitive field. With encouragement from officers he interacted with as a police dispatcher, Schoephoerster re-tested and in February 2004 fulfilled his dream of becoming a police officer.

As a patrol officer, Schoephoerster worked nights and regularly rode the newly opened METRO Blue Line. In 2008, he joined the department’s K-9 Unit and spent eight years working alongside his partner Cooper, a black lab. After Cooper passed away in 2016, Schoephoerster joined the team that rode the Northstar Commuter Rail and patrolled the northern suburbs. “You really got to know the customers, the conductors, and everyone who worked on Northstar, which made that a very enjoyable experience,” he said. 

One of Schoephoerster’s most memorable moments came in 2022, when he pinned a Metro Transit police badge on his son, Kevin. Together, they became the department’s first full-time father-son officers. Schoephoerster’s other son, Taylor, joined Metro Transit in 2014 and was serving as a mechanic technician at the time of his father’s retirement.

After retiring in early-2023, Schoephoerster said he planned to spend more time golfing, traveling and with his family. His family connections and other friendships, Schoephoerster said, would keep him engaged even in retirement. “You just don’t forget the people you work with,” he said.


Gary Nyberg 

Manager of Technology Systems
Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, January 26, 2023 9:23:00 AM

After attending an aeronautical school, Gary Nyberg thought he’d have a career managing a small airport. Instead, he became a third-generation operator, following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, who had worked as streetcar and bus operators in the Twin Cities.  

Once, early in his career, Nyberg was even assigned to cover his father’s work and discovered just how much his passengers appreciated him. That experience, he said, helped affirm his decision to work in transit.  

Still, he knew even then that he’d eventually want to get out of the driver’s seat and apply the skills he’d learned in school. After eight years as an operator, he got his first opportunity to do that, taking a role in the Transit Control Center.  

He made the most of it, too. After 43 years of service, Nyberg retired in early-2023 having made a deep imprint on the organization his family had been with for more than a century.  

His first foray into emerging transit technologies came in the early-90s when he helped test new GPS equipment on a few buses. It took a few years for the technology to come of age, but eventually Nyberg helped deploy GPS equipment across the fleet, allowing vehicles to be remotely tracked in real time.  

At the same time, he started taking on more of a leadership role in the expanding TCC and started to build a team that would help the agency start using new radio equipment and other emerging technologies, like real-time signs and transit signal priority.  

The evolution Nyberg saw during his career, he said, was remarkable. “Everything has changed immensely,” he said. “When you’re busy every day, it’s hard to see that. But when you step back and look at it, it’s really quite amazing how far we’ve come in the use of our technology. We’re able to monitor and respond to things in ways we never could have imagined when I started here.” 

The use of technology hasn’t just improved the customer experience but given the agency a wealth of data that can be used to make better decisions. “The ability to make more informed decisions is actually one of the biggest benefits we’ve seen from the use of technology,” Nyberg said.  

More than anything, though, Nyberg said he’s most proud of the relationships he built along the way. Many of his co-workers have become lifelong friends. In retirement, Nyberg plans to spend time with his family and on home projects, studying Chinese, and traveling.  

Paul Osborne 

Posted by John Komarek | Thursday, January 5, 2023 1:21:00 PM

Paul Osborne began work at transit as a two-year plan to get back on track and return to college. Thirty-four years later, he’s glad he stayed.  

“College was difficult for me, so my dad encouraged me to apply to Metro Transit,” Osborne said.  

The St. Paul native drove school buses previously, so the transition was easy – especially with the amount of support Metro Transit provides its operators.  

“I had to fuel and clean my own school bus,” he said. “And the heating and cooling systems rarely worked – in winter, I’d wear full winter gear to stay warm onboard!”  

He truly appreciated the people who made sure he could focus on driving and customers, including Metro Transit mechanics, cleaners, and fuelers.  

While he enjoyed the variety of routes available when working extra-board, he also loved the lack of it in his uniform.  

“I could be in Cottage Grove one day, and Chanhassen the next,” Osborne said.  “And, I could wake up every day and not have to think about what to wear." 

Like many operators, however, it was the benefit package and the people that kept him here all these years.  

“Metro Transit rose to my expectations to take care of me when I was injured,” Osborne said. “And I’ve made friends for life.”  

As he enters retirement, he’s already planned a trip to Costa Rica with retired transit friends and looks forward to tackling lots of home improvement projects.   

He’ll have to start thinking about what to wear every day again, however.  

David Micklin 

Posted by John Komarek | Thursday, January 5, 2023 1:20:00 PM

As a child in Northeast Minneapolis, David Micklin grew up on Metro Transit buses.

“I’d ride them everywhere,” Micklin said. “I’d ride on my father’s bus and help him change his route signs.”

His father, Al Micklin, served for 34 years with Twin Cities Lines. Metropolitan Transit Commission, Metropolitan Council Transit Operations, and Metro Transit.

“I always felt at home onboard a bus,” he said.

As a young man, he tried a few careers, but it wasn’t until 1988 that he followed in his father’s footsteps at Metro Transit. 

“I don’t know why I didn’t start until then because I knew it was a good job with good pay and benefits,” Micklin said. “And, my dad always told me that he never worked a day in his life because he loved his job so much.”

Throughout his career, he worked at every garage except South. And, after 35 years of service, he’s proud to say that he’s had zero accidents and was always on time to work. He says he’s never even had a broken mirror or any other minor issues.

While he was dedicated to safety and on-time performance, it was the people that really made the job special for him, especially on his favorite routes – the 4, 65, 67, and 852.

“There were always friendly people onboard,” Micklin said.

In retirement, he’ll move up to his lake home in Wisconsin with his wife. He plans to finish some additions and looks forward to hosting his two children and grandchildren. He also plans to spend plenty of time behind the wheel of his Corvette.


Timothy Thompson 

Posted by John Komarek | Thursday, December 15, 2022 12:00:00 PM

It took Timothy Thompson a few tries to get into Metro Transit, but he’s glad he did.  

"I kept not getting a high enough score until I realized that there were a few trick questions,” Thompson said. “Once I figured that out, I passed.”

While he had experience as a school bus driver, he began his career as a vault puller because there wasn’t a need for more operators. He enjoyed the job, but it was his next career move that gave him his calling.  

“Being a cleaner is my career, and I loved doing it,” Thompson said. “My goal every day was to have the cleanest buses in the system, the region, and the nation.” 

He enjoyed it so much that others took notice, and he helped train in new cleaners that came onboard. Thompson also sees his work as integral to setting the mood for everyone in the system. As a customer himself, he was always checking every bus he rode to and from work.  

“When a bus operator gets onboard a dirty bus, it puts them in a bad mood to start the day,” he said. “And it impacts the customers who ride that bus, too. I just wanted to make sure everyone was happy onboard.”  

During the pandemic, the role of cleaner became the cornerstone of helping deliver essential rides to customers who had no other options. “We were cleaning, sanitizing, and fogging buses as often as possible,” Thompson said.  

Retiring after 34 years of service, Thompson plans to take up woodworking inside his new barn next to his home on about five acres of land. And as he leaves, he knows that his time here set him up for his retirement that he’ll spend with his wife, four kids, and grandchild.  

“I got my pension from a good company with great pay and good hours,” Thompson said. “I wish I would have started earlier.”  


John Dillery 

Senior Planner
Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, November 30, 2022 5:50:00 AM

John Dillery’s passion for transit began in childhood growing up in Mahtomedi. “My neighbors and family members often told streetcar stories,” Dillery said. “I was curious about it, so I walked the abandoned line and I often found streetcar track artifacts.”

In college, he became a volunteer at the Como Streetcar Museum. As he approached graduation, his supervisor suggested applying at Metro Transit. “I wanted to get into the transit business, so I figured I’d start as a bus operator,” he said. “However, unlike today, there was a hiring freeze.”

Lucky for Dillery, they did have an opening for a research assistant. In 1978, he began in planning. After 44 years of service, he celebrated his retirement in November 2022. 

Dillery’s time at Metro Transit has been transformational.

He worked on studies that helped bring rail back to the metro and has supported planning around the opening of new light rail, commuter rail and Bus Rapid Transit services. He also organized the bus route number system and helped define service planning.

“Transit is most successful when planned under a set of well-specified guidelines indicating what sort of conditions are required for different service levels,” he said. “Adding clear guidelines and goals has made transit stronger.”

For his efforts, Dillery and fellow long-serving planners Scott Thompson and Steve Mahowald were recognized in 2019 with the Minnesota Public Transportation Association's Distinguished Career Award. 

Throughout his career, Dillery has remained customer-focused. “Looking at data or a map at high altitude can only tell you so much,” he said. “You need to get out and ride to understand your customers and the system.”

And that’s where you’ll still find him in retirement – riding Metro Transit around the metro area – except when he takes an occasional train trip across Europe with his wife, that is.


Cha Vang 

Police and Security Administrator
Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, September 29, 2022 1:44:00 PM

When Cha Vang’s college professor encouraged him to apply for an internship at the Metropolitan Transit Commission, he didn’t really know what he was getting into. But the organization’s name sounded important, he thought, so he decided to give it a shot. In 1987, he began working in the commission’s nascent security department. Turns out Vang was on the vanguard of what would become one of the state’s largest law enforcement agencies, the Metro Transit Police Department. It was, he said, a remarkable thing to be a part of over the course of his 35-year career. “It’s really been a privilege to be a part of the growth,” Vang said shortly before retiring in September 2022. “Everything was growing right in front of our eyes, which was pretty exciting.”

Vang came to the MTC, the precursor to Metro Transit, with no law enforcement experience and limited knowledge of what law enforcement involved. Working alongside him was a security manager and a small team of security officers. Among his first projects was coding intersections so the agency could start tracking police incidents. Even then, though, he could see that something bigger was on the horizon. And, he was assured that if he stuck around he could be a part of it. After his internship ended, Vang joined the department in a part-time role; in 1990, he went full-time.

After the state legislature acted to create the Metro Transit Police Department, Vang started to see the promised growth play out. He helped organize and train new department members, including the agency’s first part-time police officers, and got operations setup at the department’s first home on Minnehaha Avenue. Vang also played a key role in introducing the growing department to other Metro Transit staff, organizing outreach events at garages. Later, Vang helped the department move into its new headquarters at the Metro Transit Campus. Record entry and management remained a large part of his work throughout his career, and leaders often turned to Vang for his institutional knowledge.

At the time of his retirement, Vang was the longest-serving Metro Transit Police Department employee. In retirement, he planned to spend time volunteering, working on house projects, and enjoying his family, including his wife and four children. Vang said the police department had become “like a second family,” but that he looked forward to the next chapter. “I might not have known what I was getting into at the beginning,” he said. “But looking back I think I made the right decision.”


Steve Jaeger 

Transportation Manager
Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, September 27, 2022 12:31:00 PM

As a child growing up on Saint Paul’s East Side, Steve Jaeger liked to imagine himself as a bus driver, using a circular piano stool for a steering wheel and his sister and her dolls as his passengers. Later in life, he didn’t have to imagine. After seeing an ad in the paper, he applied for and got a job shuttling commuters between Cottage Grove and St. Paul, traveling along Highway 61 while trying not to get caught at one of the road's many stoplights. Between those early morning and afternoon runs, he also drove school and charter buses. In 1975, after the company he was working for sold its fixed routes, he moved to the Metropolitan Transit Commission, starting what would become a 47-year career with the organization (which later became Metro Transit). Jaeger retired in September 2022 as the agency’s longest-serving transportation manager.

At first, Jaeger wasn’t sure he wanted to come to the MTC. But with two young daughters, the benefits were too good to pass up. After the change, he found himself navigating unfamiliar streets in Minneapolis for the first time. “If I lost sight of the Foshay Tower, I was lost,” Jaeger recalled. But his comfort level grew and, after two years, he was recognized as someone who was capable of doing more. With some encouragement, he applied for and was offered a role as a dispatcher at the Shingle Creek Garage (now Ruter Garage). Not long after that, he was pushed to apply for an assistant transportation manager role, a position he held at the old Nicollet, Snelling, Northside, and Heywood garages. Opportunity knocked again when a garage manager position opened. Convinced that it wouldn’t hurt to try, he applied and, to his surprise, got the job.

As a manager, Jaeger spent several years at Shingle Creek and Heywood before being transferred to South. At the time, he wasn’t especially excited about the change. One conversation with a terminally ill operator who came to him seeking faith and wisdom changed all that. “You could have knocked me over with a feather,” he said, remembering the meeting. “I said, ‘Now I know I am where I am for a reason.’” Though not every relationship was quite as profound, the opportunity to make an impact in other peoples’ lives, he said, is what sustained him as a manager over his 35-plus years in the position. To encourage operators, Jaeger liked to pull out a pair of golden handcuffs and make a point about choosing to enjoy the job instead of seeing it as a burden. “When your heads in the right place and your hearts in the right place, you don’t need these (handcuffs),” he would say.

In addition to his work as a manager, Jaeger served as an informal mentor, spent 14 years as president of the Transit Managers’ and Supervisors’ Association (TMSA), and was part of the group that provided input during the design of the East Metro Garage. 

In retirement, Jaeger planned to spend more time with family, including his wife, daughters, sons-in-law and six grandchildren, and to get more involved in church activities. Looking back, he said he was grateful for the chance to lead so many people for so long. “I’m confident that this is what I was created to do,” he said.

Page 1 of 22 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >>