Revenue Operations Supervisor Bill Wilken has seen quite a few changes since he began his career cleaning buses more than 40 years ago.
Many of them were of his own making, too.
After transferring to Sales Operations in the early 1980s, Wilken led the opening of the original Minneapolis and St. Paul service centers, the conversion to electronic fare payments, set up the Metropass program and launched Metro Transit’s original online store.
He has also helped simplify fare products, expand Metro Transit’s retail outlets, introduce Go-To Cards and shepherd multiple fare increases (regular adult fares were just 30 cents when Wilken’s career began; today, adult fares start at $1.75).
For his efforts, Wilken was recognized this week with the Minnesota Public Transportation Association’s Distinguished Career Award. The award was presented at MPTA’s annual conference in Rochester.
“As much as I appreciate this award and as grateful I am for it, the greatest reward I have is the thank you I get from customers that we serve,” Wilken said in accepting his award.
Nick Eull, senior manager of Revenue Collections, nominated Wilken for the award. It’s not only Wilken’s effectiveness as a change agent that makes his career stand out, he said.
“Through all of this change and advancement of technology, Bill’s mission has always been the same – make it easy to pay the bus, and later train, fare, and treat those funds with respect,” Eull said. “From that goal he’s never wavered.”
Wilken said he’s been fortunate to work alongside many talented individuals. Beyond having a strong team, he said he’s found success by committing to process improvement, understanding what customers want and having clear goals.
“When I started, most fares were paid in coin,” Wilken said. “Today, we offer a whole host of prepaid transit fare programs. This evolution was achieved through the process of continual improvement with help from dozens of people.”
More recently, Wilken has played a leading role in planning for and coordinating fare sales and crowd management at Target Field, U.S. Bank Stadium and TCF Bank Stadium.
Wilken lives in Chanhassen with his wife Marcia. Outside of his work, his hobbies include disc golf and flying. Wilken also ran a marathon at age 60 and has earned a red belt in Taekwondo.
The last Metro Transit employee to receive MPTA’s Distinguished Career Award was Maintenance Manager Silas Sharp, who retired earlier this year. Sharp was honored in 2013.
> Awards and Recognition