Shortly after finishing vocational school, Joe Koran took a drafting job with the Metropolitan Transit Commission and was told he had at least six years’ worth of work in front of him. Six months later, Koran had accomplished everything on his to-do list. But he wasn’t interested in finding a new employer – especially if it meant he’d have to keep wearing a suit and tie. The solution: turn his interest in working on cars into a new career in Bus Maintenance. Koran would spend the next 40 years as a technician, dividing his time between bus and building maintenance.
Koran’s first stop in Bus Maintenance was at the old Northside Garage, where he worked overnights as a cleaner. He spent time as a cleaner and fueler at the Nicollet, Ruter and old Snelling garages, and was among the first technicians to move to the new Overhaul Base. At the Overhaul Base, Koran worked in the body shop and rotated through several other assignments, becoming an increasingly well-rounded and skilled technician who could fix not just buses but all sorts of equipment.
To keep himself interested, Koran kept an eye out for new opportunities. The desire to try new things led Koran to move into building maintenance, where he became involved in everything from creating custom office furniture to striping parking spaces. While in building maintenance, Koran earned his electrician’s license as Metro Transit’s first apprentice electrician. As an electrician, he updated lighting fixtures, rewired buildings and took on a host of other responsibilities that brought him to customer and support facilities across the region. He also made a point of anticipating repair needs and addressing them before being asked. “I’d be driving down the street, see a shelter with a broken light or conduit, and make sure to get it fixed,” he said. “You really had to be a self-starter – that’s the biggest part of this job.”
Throughout his career, Koran enjoyed spending time with and getting to know his co-workers, playing for several years on work-based softball teams and riding with members of the Motorcycle Touring Club (MTC). Looking back on his career, Koran said those experiences and the ability to move around stand out as the best parts of his time at Metro Transit. “I met a lot of people and was able to change jobs almost at will,” he said. “That really helped me avoid the ho-hum some people get after a while in a job.”
Koran retired in September 2018 with 40 years of service. In retirement, he planned to spend more time on carpentry projects, boating and fishing and biking.