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Local 788-St. Louis, MO, Mentors Step Up for the Next Generation

Local 788-St. Louis, MO, member Bobby Morris has been a Metro Transit operator for more than three decades. While many factors contributed to his long career, he credits guidance from experienced operators for shaping his early success in the driver’s seat, “When I came in some of the, I like to call them heavy hitters, when they saw us struggling, they would step up,” says Morris.

Now Morris is one of those heavy hitters stepping up to help the next generation of operators as part of a mentorship program through his Local 788. He’s among a dozen Metro operators to graduate from the Mentor program’s inaugural St. Louis class.

The innovative ATU Mentorship Program began in California in 2005 and has been adopted by almost 40 Locals across our Union.


Critical Support System

“This gives new operators a support system when they come in,” says ATU International President John Costa. “We always say transit agencies do a great job teaching you how to operate a mass transit vehicle. But the true professional piece of it comes from everything else—the interaction with customers, work-life balance, how you’re able to do this at a professional level every day.”

Building this support system between veteran operators and new hires is beneficial in many ways, with retention chief among them. In cities where this program is already in place, retention rates are as high as 95%.


Professional and Personal Growth

Mentorship is about forming relationships and fostering personal connections as a conduit for professional growth. With these ideals as a foundation, the Local 788 mentors draw from their experience to help new hires navigate a career at Metro Transit. They provide guidance and support, help develop skills, and build confidence. For many of the graduates of the program, they were offering this support long before the word mentorship entered the conversation.

“I was calling myself ambassador,” says Local 788 MetroBus Operator Kimberly Quinn. “I would tell people I’m Metro’s ambassador because I’m always reaching out to help people, both employees and passengers.”

Local 788 Call-A-Ride Operator Randy Henley has been with Metro Transit for ten years, including five as a line instructor. The mentorship program gives him new tools to build on the personal approach he takes to training new hires.

“I feel like I do that (mentoring) anyway because I like people to feel comfortable with me,” says Henley. “So, when I train somebody, I’m making sure they feel comfortable coming up and asking me certain things. If you have a more personal approach to the new hires, I think that would help because they’ll be comfortable.”



A common thread emerges when asked to share their advice with new hires or those considering a career in transit—patience.

“I would say you need to give it time. You can’t make a snap decision about this job right away. It’s one of those jobs where it takes a little time to know whether it’s right for you,” says Local 788 Call-A-Ride Operator Robert Plummer. “What I love about Metro is every day is different. In 10 years, I have yet to have two days that are identical. It simply doesn’t happen. Every day is another day to do a little better.”