Latchman Bhagwandin waited eight years to enter the United States. Today, he makes sure METRO A Line riders don’t wait more than 15 minutes for a bus.
As a child in French Guyana, he lived with relatives while his parents worked in New York. In 1981, he finally got the call that he would be reunited with his parents in the Bronx.
“I never experienced flurries until I arrived in New York,” Bhagwandin said. “I also never witnessed seeing a car being jacked before my eyes outside my window.”
In 1997, after visiting some relatives in Minnesota, he and his wife decided to move to the Twin Cities.
“It was the best decision I ever made,” he said. “Two years later, I started driving for Metro Transit.”
Bhagwandin said he applied after seeing advertisements that cheekily suggested bus operators enjoyed an “office with a view." Even then, he had some hesitations.
“You hear horror stories about being a driver,” Bhagwandin said. “But after seeing the people who drive every day, I knew they can’t all be true.”
When he got behind the wheel for the first time, he remembers that he struggled a bit. A mentor at South Garage helped him overcome those early hurdles, he said.
“I wouldn’t have made it without Bob Benson’s help,” he said. “From my first day behind the wheel through today, he’s been a resource for me.”
Benson was a longtime garage coordinator at South, retiring in 2019 with more than 43 years of service.
After 20 years of service, Bhagwandin has operated nearly every route out of South Garage. However, he’s found potentially his last route -- the METRO A Line. The Bus Rapid Transit line opened in 2014 and runs between Rosedale Center and the METRO Blue Line's 46th Street Station.
To speed up service, A Line customers buy their fares before boarding and can get on using front or rear doors. Those and other features, Bhagwandin make it preferable to driving a regular route bus.
“I wanted to drive the A Line from the get-go,” Bhawandin said. “I plan to drive this route every year I can. It’s an easy-going route. What’s not to like?”
Operator at a Glance
Name: Latchman “Jerry” Bhagwandin (Bag-wan-din)
Country of origin: French Guyana
Route: METRO A Line
Hobbies: Loves to go estate sale shopping to look for art.
Family: Wife and two daughters
Lives: Apple Valley
Best Advice: If you have questions, ask them. Never leave the garage without feeling confident.