Terry Hinchcliffe was producing ammunition at the Twin Cities Arsenal when a friend encouraged him to apply for a job at the Metropolitan Transit Commission. In 1977, he started working as a cleaner at the old Northside Garage, beginning what would become a 39-year career in transit.
After gaining a few years of experience in Bus Maintenance, Hinchcliffe moved to the Overhaul Base where he began working in the brake and body shops. As he settled in, he found his most satisfying work came when he had the opportunity to put his creativity to use. Over time, he developed a reputation as a talented and inventive fabricator, fulfilling visions that were often born out of crude drawings and vague notions. “Many times it was so basic you had to ask, ‘What did you even draw?’ or it wouldn’t even be drawn but just discussed,” he said. Hinchcliffe filled in the gaps, though, earning trust and gaining more freedom to create as his career progressed. Among his many inventions were custom lift devices that made it easier for technicians to remove bumpers and radiators. He also helped create two Twinkle Buses, specially-decorated buses that were a fixture of the Holidazzle Parade for many years. The first version was wrapped in metal panels, netting and around 20,000 holiday lights, each individually zip tied. “I was always given a lot of freedom to build anything I thought we needed, which was challenging but also rewarding and a lot of fun,” Hinchcliffe said shortly before his retirement.
Hinchcliffe spent most of his career in Bus Maintenance. But looking for more chances to get outside, he spent his final three years as a Facilities Technician. The job involved snow removal, painting and installing shelters, among other duties. It also provided Hinchcliffe a chance to apply his fabrication skills in new ways. Pulling together equipment, he created a fabrication shop devoted entirely to facilities. He also continued to invent, designing a hydraulic jack that could lift heavy waiting shelters in and out of trailers to make installation easier.
After 39 years of service, Hinchcliffe retired in May 2017. In retirement, he planned to spend more time with his family, including several children and grandchildren, and pursuing his hobbies – dirt biking, hunting, fishing, camping and playing the guitar.