Before he became a bus driver, Tony Taylor sold shoes. That close personal interaction with people, he says, provided him with just the kind of training he needed to get behind the wheel of a bus, a job that puts him face-to-face with hundreds of customers every day.
Taylor has used those people skills for the last 35 years, logging more than 700,000 miles en route to becoming one of Metro Transit’s most senior and respected drivers. A a frequently called upon spokesman for media interviews, Taylor was named Minnesota Bus Operator of the Year in 2013.
Reflecting on his experience, Taylor says the key to the job is simply having the right outlook.
“I would say that 99 percent of it is attitude,” Taylor says. “You have to have a good attitude, especially if you’ve been here any length of time.”
Not that that’s always easy. Driving a bus in poor weather and heavy traffic are among the challenges drivers face on a daily basis. The job was even tougher when Taylor began in 1978, when buses had no air-conditioning, power steering or electronic fare machines.
Taylor’s most memorable work experiences include the night the Minnesota Twins won Game 7 of the World Series (Oct. 25, 1987), the 1991 Halloween blizzard and the 1992 Super Bowl at the Metrodome.
“Those are monumental moments when you find out what driving a bus is really about,” he says.
Through all the challenges, Taylor has managed to perform at a high level, joining an elite group of operators who have gone more than 30 years without an accident and earning more than two-dozen Outstanding Operator awards.
As an on-call driver, Taylor has experienced almost every facet of Metro Transit’s bus operation, too. Leading what he describes as a “nomadic” career, Taylor has worked at four bus garages picking up routes as needed. The constantly-changing schedule has put him on express, suburban and urban routes and at all times of day.
Taylor enjoys the variety, but says there is an underlying maxim that ties it all together: “Treat passengers the way you want to be treated.” Also important: not taking anything too personally. “If you can’t let something go and have a little humor it could be a very long day,” he says.
Taylor’s good-natured attitude is something he hopes younger drivers can adopt. “People think anybody can drive a bus. But it takes a certain amount of patience, attitude – and of course people skills,” he says.
Operator at a Glance
Name: Tony Taylor
Hired: Dec. 4, 1978 (Taylor is also one of fewer than 100 Metro Transit employees with a three-digit employee number, 877).
Routes: As an on-call driver, Taylor has driven countless routes and worked out of four different bus garages – Martin J. Ruter, East Metro, Nicollet and Heywood.
Favorite memories: Driving the night the Minnesota Twins won Game 7 of the World Series (Oct. 25, 1987), the 1991 Halloween blizzard and the 1992 Super Bowl at the Metrodome. Taylor has also appeared in several media stories on behalf of Metro Transit, including a 2013 WCCO story on Lost & Found, a KARE story on severe weather driving and a Fox 9 campaign on jobs undeterred by weather. Taylor has also appeared in Metro Transit training videos and participated in the public debut of the Student Pass program.
Awards: 27 Outstanding Operator Awards, 34-Year Safe Operator. Minnesota Bus Operator of the Year, 2013.
Hobbies: Traveling, hiking, fishing, motorcycles, bird watching and attending dog shows.
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