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Rider's Almanac Blog

'Stoic' train operator recognized as Minnesota's operator of the year

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, October 5, 2021 3:56:00 PM

Harry Mandik is the epitome of a public servant – and he’s a pretty good operator, too.

For 35 years, Mandik has carried people to their destinations throughout the Twin Cities and served as an informal leader for bus and train operators alike. His dedication was recognized this week by the Minnesota Public Transit Association, which named him Minnesota Operator of the Year.

After learning of the award, Mandik said he was surprised, honored and grateful. He also went out of his way to share credit.

“It’s a big operation and I’m just a small piece of it," he said. "None of this would happen without many other employees doing what they’re doing behind the scenes.”

Still, Mandik’s career is impressive.

In 1986, he began as a part-time bus operator. After 17 years, he moved to light rail and helped open both the METRO Blue and Green lines.

In 2020, Mandik was recognized for 35 consecutive years of operating without a responsible collision. He took second place in Metro Transit’s Bus Roadeo competition three years in a row, and took first place in the agency’s 2008 and 2009 Rail Rodeos.

Early in his career, Mandik helped train fellow bus operators as a relief instructor. At rail, he's seen as a “informal leader” who generously shares his knowledge and wisdom with new train operators.

“Not only does he have a friendly and helpful attitude, but his stoic and calm demeanor and professionalism are on constant display,” Director of Rail Transportation Mark Benedict said. “He has contributed in a real way to our success at light rail by setting a tone for all those around him.”