After 4 decades without a dent, a driver called 'Crash' is parking the bus

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The driver with the best safety record in Metro Transit history is turning in his keys.

After more than 42 years behind the wheel, Jerry Olson is retiring.

As the Star Tribune notes, Olson has won just about every award the Twin Cities' transit agency gives its drivers, including 41 consecutive Safe Operator Awards.

Last year Olson was named Bus Operator of the Year by a statewide group, the Minnesota Transit Operators Association.

He's driven nearly every route in the Metro Transit system, and WCCO says Olson has safely delivered an estimated 23 million passengers.

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Metro Transit tells MPR News that Olson was involved in one accident early in his driving career, but after that he went 41 years without a single crash.

And Crash, by the way, is the nickname that his high school buddies gave to Olson. He told the Star Tribune in 2013 that he crashed two cars soon after getting his driver's license, including a '55 Chevy for which he'd paid $35 – less than he spent on his 8-track player, he said.

When Olson started driving a bus in October 1972, Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry had songs in the Top Ten ... President Nixon was running for re-election ... the buses were without heating or air conditioning ... a brontosaurus boarded on Nicollet Mall ... (well, all but the last are true).

His last official day at Metro Transit is Friday, but Olson drove his final route on Wednesday and family and friends were along for the ride.

The 63-year-old Olson tells MPR he'll spend time with his toddler granddaughter, who has a sibling on the way.

And while he's taking his best-ever safety record into retirement with him, Olson's legacy will live on. Metro Transit says for the past 18 years he's been an instructor to new operators, in addition to holding down his regular driving shift.

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