LA CROSSE, WI (WXOW)—As La Crosse Municipal Transit Utility celebrates three years at Grand River Station.
They're also preparing to say goodbye to their leader, Keith Carlson, as he plans to retire.
When Carlson got his first job as a La Crosse MTU bus drive 33 years ago, he didn't think it would turn into a life long career.
"I'm a geography major and believe it or not that really does fit," Carlson said.
Over the years, he's been a part of some major changes, starting with the expansion into a regional system.
"That type of growth to big ridership increases in the late 90s we were serving 600,000 rides, today we're serving 1.2 million," Carlson said.
And of course, watching plans for the $30 million Grand River Station become reality.
"We needed this for so many years," Carlson said.
Before Grand River Station was here, people had to wait at the corner of Fifth and State Streets, next to the post office, for a bus.
"In the winter months there was snow piles and ice," Carlson said. "We can be much more efficient now that transfer activity happens much quicker and safer."
He said MTU is still finding ways to improve.
"We've been putting a lot of emphasis on sustainability and being mindful of our impact on the environment and use of fuel. We've started to get hybrid buses," Carlson said.
In the future MTU hopes to become even more efficient by running their buses on compressed natural gas.
Carlson said his last day at MTU will be December 30.
Before then, he has a lot of work to do getting things in order for his replacement like the 2014 budget.
Carlson may be retiring, but he isn't completely leaving the transit business.
He has plans to work part time for the Federal Transit Administration doing compliance reviews for other states.
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