Everything old is new again: Trolley motorman rides the new light rail line

Bob Stevenson
Bob Stevenson, an 85-year-old motorman who used to drive trolley cars in the 1950s, poses for a portrait before riding the Green Line for the first time from Union Depot in St. Paul to Target Field in Minneapolis Friday, June 13, 2014.
Jennifer Simonson/MPR News

Bob Stevenson, 85, remembers well a time when trains drove through downtown St. Paul.

At age 22, he was a trolley motorman driving the night shift on the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line, which went through downtown St. Paul.

He worked the line from 1953 until 1954, when the streetcars were shut down. He then drove a bus for 13 years.

Stevenson said the buses had some advantages, but in his opinion not enough to outweigh the convenience of the streetcar.

"In the streetcar days, Minneapolis and St. Paul were laid out that nobody was more than six blocks away from a streetcar," Stevenson recalled. "You never looked at a schedule. The maximum time between streetcars during the day was 15 minutes."

Stevenson joined MPR News' Tom Crann for a ride on the new Green Line light rail train, which Stevenson describes as "pretty fancy streetcars."