After moving from Belarus to the United States, Nikolay Mshar noticed a lot more people walking around with smiles. Soon, he started wearing one himself.
“In Belarus, I drove buses like I do here,” Mshar said. “The only difference is that here people smile more and are less rude. Culturally, people don’t smile there much.”
Mshar immigrated to the United States in 1992 and began at Metro Transit in 1998. With his prior experience, becoming a bus operator was an obvious career choice. He’s been good at it, too. In 2018, Mshar was recognized for 20 consecutive years of safe driving, a rare accomplishment.
But from the beginning Mshar saw the job as more than a paycheck. Becoming a Metro Transit bus operator, he said, helped him find his way in a new country.
“On a bus, you talk and interact with people,” Mshar said recently from South Garage. “This helped me become part of this country.”
While learning a new language was stressful, he was determined. With help from his wife and a job that immersed him with English-speaking customers, his abilities improved.
“I didn’t want to depend on someone like a translator,” Mshar said. “Those first five years, I soaked up language like a sponge.”
Today, Mshar lives in Shakopee with his wife. He’s raised three daughters in Minnesota and plans to spend the rest of his career with Metro Transit.
While his life has changed, interacting with customers remains his favorite part of being a bus operator.
“If you enjoy what you do, other people will enjoy what they’re doing, too,” Mshar said. “I enjoy driving the bus, and because of that my customers enjoy their ride.”
If you like working with people and want to make a difference in your community, apply to become a Metro Transit bus operator. All Metro Transit train operators begin as bus operators. Learn more about applying at metrotransit.org/drive.