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Rider's Almanac Blog

Steve Mahowald celebrates 50 years of service

Posted by John Komarek | Friday, March 3, 2023 3:21:00 PM

Today, Steve Mahowald is a senior planner, but like many folks at Metro Transit, he began his career as a bus operator.

“I was driving cab for a living,” Mahowald said. “I’d commute downtown to my job on Metro Transit and that’s when my bus operator told me to apply.”

He took that advice and a half century later, he celebrates his service to the communities in the metro area. He served as a bus operator for about 5 years, which gave him steady income and the ability to go back to college and finish his degree in Urban Studies. This gave him the launching pad to apply for a job in Service Development and eventually the ability to earn his master’s degree.

“I didn’t get the job right away,” he said. “It took me three times.”

He started as an associate planner and worked his way up to senior planner. Throughout the years, he’s worked on many projects, but he’s most proud of helping develop transit market areas in the mid-90s.  This document provides cities with an understanding of what transit is able to do now, and what transit could provide given the right developments.

“Cities still refer to it today to help develop areas that are conducive to transit service,” Mahowald said.

Throughout the years, community is what keeps him coming to work every day – not only the communities onboard buses and trains, but the community built by his fellow employees.

“It’s very rewarding to see and hear from the people we serve,” he said. “But it’s also energizing to work with such talented people with a passion for our mission.”

And just like the bus operator who told him to apply, he’s even inspired some people to work at Metro Transit. While teaching at the University of Minnesota, he met a passionate and driven student interested in transit. That student is now the director of Strategic Initiatives.

With 50 years and counting, Mahowald returns to work energized and excited about the future of transit when he meets new hires coming into the organization.

 “The talent coming into Metro Transit today is incredible,” he said.