As a little kid, Rick Carey loved taking things apart and putting them back together. By middle school, he’d already decided he wanted to be a mechanic. And he always worked on his and his family members’ vehicles. So it was only natural that he’d go to vocational school, apply for work at what was then the Metropolitan Transit Commission and build a 36-year career in bus and rail maintenance.
Carey’s career began at the old Snelling Garage, where he quickly moved from a Cleaner to Helper position. He later worked as a Mechanic-Technician at the old Northside, old Nicollet, South, Shingle Creek and Heywood garages. During his time in Bus Maintenance, Carey enjoyed heavy hoist work – replacing trailing arms, changing rods and pulling wheels – and getting vehicles in top condition.
In 2003, Carey transferred to Metro Transit’s fledgling rail vehicle maintenance department, working as a Quality Assurance supervisor and traveling across North America to ensure vehicles being made for the Blue Line and Northstar Commuter Rail Line were built correctly. “I was probably flying more than anybody in the company at that time,” Carey said. “I was gone every single week.” In 2006, Carey initiated the first overhaul program for the Bombardier light-rail vehicles, also known as Type 1. He later worked in the Central Corridor Project Office, where he helped lead the purchase of 59 Siemens vehicles for the Green and Blue lines.
Shortly before the Green Line’s 2014 opening, he moved into another new role as the Assistant Director of Rail Vehicle Maintenance; he become the Director in 2015, overseeing a department with 65 technicians responsible for maintaining a fleet of 86 light rail vehicles. Carey said he had always enjoyed being an “informal leader,” and that assuming more responsibility gave him an opportunity to bring people along toward shared goals. “I always wanted us to do the best job we could,” he said. “That was the satisfaction I got from the job – working with a big group of people able to keep things running.”
After 36 years of service, Carey retired in January 2017. In retirement, Carey looked forward to enjoying time with his family, including wife, Karen, three children and seven grandchildren. He also hoped to spend more time working on his hobby farm, hiking, camping, canoeing, snowmobiling and four-wheeling.