Bruce Flener may have started out as a bus driver for the Metropolitan Evansville Transit System. Yet after 19 years, he’s easily become a tour guide and a conductor, too.
“We all wear a lot of hats,” the 61-year-old says.
These days, Flener drives the vintage trolley, an hour route that connects Downtown Main Street to North Main Street stopping at libraries, museums, and the Ford Center.
“I have driven (all 17 fixed) routes, and driving the vintage trolley is both a privilege and an honor because it is one of the most desirable routes,” he says.
Many may not know, however, that the Downtown vintage trolley is actually not vintage at all. It was made to look antique and was added to the METS department in 2012. The vintage trolley is also wheelchair accessible and can easily be lowered closer to the ground by the push of a button.
The METS department was created in 1971 in order to address the growing need for public transportation, and since that time it has transported more than 45 million passengers. Over the years, buses have been added and routes have been changed to accommodate the needs of passengers, according to Tony Kirkland, METS Director. “We strive at giving passengers the best possible service,” he says.
One of METS’ goals is to ensure that all passengers will get to their destinations safely and in a timely manner.
“I try my hardest to be on time and give passengers good service,” Flener says. “The load fluctuates from hour to hour, and a lot of times people don’t know exactly where they are going, but that’s where I can help.”
He knows what it means to be a bus passenger, too. Growing up in Evansville, Flener said he can remember when he and his mother would take the bus from store to store to shop Downtown.
“You really have to be a people person to do this job,” he adds. “I enjoy waking up everyday knowing I will get to hear passengers’ stories. It’s amazing. I couldn’t ask for a more rewarding career.”