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Rider's Almanac Blog

Bus Know Your Operator

Operators differ in age, interests but share same love of the job

Posted by Drew Kerr | Monday, February 17, 2020 3:12:00 PM

On paper, Kou Yang and Peter Huston don’t have much in common.

After growing up in California, Yang moved to the Twin Cities, joined the National Guard and began working odd jobs. Huston grew up in upstate New York and built a career as a software engineer in Iowa and Minnesota.

Yang is fond of classic rock acts like Creedence Clearwater Revival, Looking Glass and the Rolling Stones. Huston volunteers with the AARP as a tax preparer. 

Yang is single, while Huston, a father of four, has been married for 59 years and counting.

And there’s this: Yang was born in 1997, as President Bill Clinton entered his second term, while Huston was born in 1935, the year President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law.

Yang and Huston do, however, have one thing in common: They’re both Metro Transit bus operators.

Huston, 84, and Yang, 22, recently met for a conversation about their lives and careers at Metro Transit. Despite their differences, the unlikely pair found common ground in their affinity for their work.

Just over a year after starting at Metro Transit, Yang says he’d be thrilled to someday retire from the organization. Long intrigued by the idea of becoming a professional driver, Huston is continually delighted by his second career, which began in 1999.

“It turned out I fell in love with the company,” Huston said. “I just enjoyed driving…There are wonderful allies. Just walk into the driver’s room. If you need help with something, you ask in a soft voice and you get it. And it turns out that your passengers are an aid. Something goes wrong, they’re the first to tell you it wasn’t your fault. I think it’s a marvelous place to be employed.”

Impressed by Huston’s longevity, Yang solicited some words of wisdom and received this advice:

  • Set money aside for retirement early and often, even if it means making small sacrifices;
  • Get plenty of rest; fatigue can affect both your mood and your performance;
  • Remain active (Huston regularly walks at least an hour a day);
  • Avoid bringing workplace stresses home with you.

Ultimately, though, Huston said his approach comes down to having the right attitude. “I don’t think it’s a discipline, it’s a natural desire,” he said.

While Huston has no plans to slow down, Yang parted with a promise to help him celebrate whenever he decides to call it quits. “I’ll come to yours (retirement) first, then you can come to mine,” he said.