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Rider's Almanac Blog

On Off The Clock

On the Clock/Off the Clock: Vamilar Ngungkpan, Heywood Operator

Posted by John Komarek | Friday, August 6, 2021 1:28:00 PM

How did you come to work at Metro Transit?  

In 2012, my wife and I had two kids back to back so I needed a second income to support my family. I had a technician degree and a job as a medical device technician at a big research hospital, but it wasn’t enough to support my growing family. A family member who worked at Metro Transit said I should apply to be a weekend bus operator. After two years working both jobs, I realized my part-time hourly wage at transit was better than my hourly wage at my full-time job of 12 years. So, I quit and decided to become a full-time operator.   

What do you like the most about being “On the Clock”?   

Driving allows you to experience new places, meet new people, and be helpful. The people onboard are mostly quiet and just want to get to where they’re going. Sometimes, however, a person is having a bad day, and you can help them get through it. In 2018, I discovered that I could help other operators by becoming an instructor. I love the reaction on an operator’s face when they realize something they thought was difficult isn’t so difficult after all.   

What are your favorite activities when you’re “Off the Clock?"  

As an immigrant from Liberia, I am grateful for the opportunities this country provides. My uncle served in the military, and he made an impression on me early on, so I knew I always wanted to join the National Guard. However, I would have to wait until 2009 when I became a resident. Over the last year, I’ve been called into active duty for the civil unrest and the inauguration in Washington D.C. As a driver, I often find myself behind the wheel for support and supply runs, or to transport fellow soldiers. This role also gives me the opportunity to use my technician skills – my specialty as a part of the 682nd Engineering Forward Support is equipment repair. Twelve years and a few active duty calls later, I’m extending my years of service. I’m thankful Metro Transit supports me when I need to be active, and that my family takes pride in my service.  

Operator hiring events will be held August 17, 21

Two hiring events will be held later this month as efforts to bring on more bus operators continue. At each event, job seekers can submit their application and apply in one visit (applications may also be submitted online in advance). The events will run from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 17, and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Aug. 21, at the Instruction Center (725 North 7th Street, Minneapolis). Learn more at