The debate was heated – should the branding for the new GO Transit be blue or green? Norm Kuster revealed the trains actually had blue paint when they first rolled out onto the rails, more than 50 years ago.
That lasted a couple of months, Kuster recalled, as he spoke to a group about the history of GO. Decades later, he still loves to share stories about working at GO Transit when it all began.
When you walk into Kuster’s retirement home, you can feel the passion this man has for all things GO Transit. From the model trains at the entrance to the plaques, awards and certificates mounted all over his walls.
Kuster holds on to all of his memorabilia because his time working for GO Transit is still a large part of his life. The 96 year old remains just as passionate about his career as an engineer today as he was back in the 1960s.
“Always stay positive, smile and to have tenacity,” said Kuster. ”The success of the early days of GO all came down to synergy.”
Born on May 14th, 1922, Kuster had an impressive engineering career that has a lot of meaning, not only to GO Transit, but the TTC and transportation sector as a whole. He helped the TTC design their subway cars and streetcars in 1949 and designed the first bi-level GO train coach in the 1965. His work is now on full display outside of the Toronto Railway Museum, installed as part of GO Transit’s 50th anniversary celebration.
While Kuster relies on a wheelchair to move around, his mind remains sharp and he has the ability to remember the finest of details.
“What I’m most proud of is the engineering medal I received for my contributions to the transportation industry and designing the first bi-level train,” said Kuster. “At the time, this medal was only given out to three out of 30,000 engineers.”
Not only does Kuster love recalling the days gone by but he makes a point of keeping up with the times. He can carry on conversations about GO’s Wi-Fi pilot project all while asking visitors to take selfies with a sense of humour.
In the ’80s, Kuster was GO Transit’s Director of Equipment & Engineering and was motivated by a greater sense of purpose.
“Everything you do, do it for the good,” said Kuster. “Building transit is about improving people’s lives. It’s about connecting them to what matters, whether it’s a family member, school, a new job.”
Kuster retired from GO Transit in 1989 but he remains as passionate about the need for transportation solutions today as his was when his journey began.
“(It) is more important today than it was then,” he emphasizes. “I’m very proud of what Metrolinx does today.”
Written by Luiza Sadowski, Metrolinx Manager, Community/Stakeholder Relations and Communications.