When Zayre Shoppers City shut down, Mike Hadel, who’d managed one of the chain’s gas stations, found himself looking for a new line of work. Recently married and with a newborn son, he wanted a job with good benefits and opportunities to grow. His dad had been a streetcar operator and he remembered being told that the Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC) was always hiring. So transit seemed like a good place to look for a fresh start. He applied and was offered a job in the Transit Information Center (TIC), one of several stops in what would ultimately become a memorable and rewarding 37-year career.
In the TIC, where he started out at $2.35 an hour, Hadel helped Metro Mobility customers schedule pick-ups and assisted callers who needed help planning trips using transit. At the time, TIC employees used large printed maps and printed schedules to plan trips, a time-consuming process that led to long calls. Hadel was among the department’s first employees to use a computer.
While he enjoyed the work, Hadel sought a new challenge and moved to Payroll, where he reviewed operator timesheets. That job led to yet another move, to Revenue and Ridership, where Hadel spent the final 23 years of his career. At the beginning of his time in Revenue and Ridership, Hadel was tasked with providing suburban transit providers ridership data for their services, then operated under contract by Metro Transit. Later, he helped adopt and improve new fare collection equipment, including stored-value cards and an expanding network of ticket vending machines at rail stations. Because the technology was new, Hadel often had to create reports or processes for the first time. “Our motto was ‘Figure it out for yourself,’” he said.
Hadel was especially proud of the work he did to assist with credit card investigations, to maintain essential data and of a suggestion that led to the creation of portable ticket vending machines that could be temporarily put into service during large events. He also enjoyed helping with manual passenger counts, taking hundreds of trips and meeting people across the agency.
In retirement, Hadel plans to become more involved in the Minneapolis chapter of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, explore opportunities to sing and travel. He also looked forward to spending time with his family, including his wife Ann, rescue dog Kirby, son Nate, daughter-in-law Melissa, three grandchildren and two “grand dogs.”