Mountain Line is saying good bye to one of its longest serving employees this year and both the agency and many Missoula bus riders will be sad to see him go. Steve “Manny” Minez joined Missoula Urban Transportation District (MUTD) over 28 years ago and will retire from the agency on April 28. For many in Missoula, Minez is the face of Mountain Line and he will leave a legacy in his wake: a dedicated operator training program and a well-trained workforce of bus operators. (Check out Missoula Current’s interview with Manny here!)
“There are only two operators that I didn’t train currently driving, and both of them started way back in 1978,” said Minez, who started working at Mountain Line in February 1989 in the middle of a record cold snap. “I still have a t-shirt Mountain Line gave us saying ‘I survived record-breaking cold!’” he remembered.
Minez began his career with Mountain Line as a bus operator before being promoted to operations supervisor after just two years. He was one of the first certified transit supervisors in the country and the first in Montana, having graduated from the first-ever transit supervisor certification program. Minez was instrumental in creating Mountain Line’s extensive operator training program and helped organize the first Bus Roadeo in Montana. The Bus Roadeo pits operators from different communities against each other in a driving skills competition. In all, Minez has helped train over 100 bus operators in the course of his career, including the first drivers from UDASH, the University of Montana bus system. While he’s proud of his accomplishments at the agency, including multiple Employee of the Year awards, Minez says the thing he’ll miss the most are the people.
“My favorite thing about working here over the years is being around people all the time, both our great staff and members of the community,” Minez said. “No two days are ever the same and it’s great being able to help your neighbors every single day.”
Minez has an active retirement planned. He’s already started as a DJ on his own radio show on KBGA, University of Montana radio, and he will continue to serve in the Arlee Volunteer Fire Department, just as he has for the past 28 years. Ever the safety instructor, Minez will also be taking the Instructor Course to become a Montana Motorcycle Safety Foundation Instructor. As the Activities Director for the Missoula Harley Owners Group, he also hopes to spend some time traveling to visit family and travel destinations on his motorcycle. Like many departing employees, he had some words of wisdom for his successors.
“My main word of advice for our new supervisors is simple – listen,” said Minez. “You find out so much more about people’s concerns by just listening. And don’t fall for that old adage, ‘Manny never did it this way!’”