Reporting Jamie Yuccas
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Every day a quarter of a million people ride Metro Transit buses and trains.
They’re leaving behind their cars and high gas prices, and according to officials, nearly 20,000 items. That’s what riders lost last year, a figure which includes about 1,200 bikes.
WCCO-TV got a rare look inside the Metro Transit lost and found hall of fame.
Tony Taylor has been driving a Metro Transit bus for 35 years. He said what he sees most often is a lot of distracted people.
“I had a guy get off the bus, I blow my horn (to have him get his bike) and he keeps walking,” Taylor said.
Every day, 10 to 15 items alone get left on his bus. They usually include purses, wallets, gloves, scarves and money. Then there are the things he just can’t stomach.
“I would day there’s some unusual lunches. I see one and say who would eat that,” he said.
Add that to the stashes found on other buses and light rail lines making 81 million trips per year, and tens of thousands of stuff gets turned in. Down in their garage is where most of the bikes get turned in. At point, the most they’ve had down there were 68 bikes.
Officials said about 1,200 bikes total were left on Metro Transit buses and trains. If they stay past one week, the bikes are donated to charity. Everything else goes into a lost and found room in the Metro Transit offices.
Hundreds of pairs of glasses are donated, cell phones are recycled after two weeks if they’re not claimed. Electronic devices and even prescription medication have also been left on Metro Transit buses.
Officials said there’s a hall of fame for the most unusual of items. It includes a kiddie pool, microwave oven, vacuum cleaner, television set and raccoon tail.
No matter how strange the items are, Metro Transit workers turn into detectives as people find out what they’ve left behind and call in to get it back. Whether it’s by phone or in person, people are thrilled to get their stuff back.
One rider was without his wallet for up to five days and when he finally got it back, the $230 he had inside was still there.
Every person who told us they lost something on a Metro Transit bus or light rail line, they were distracted. Sometimes it even happens to the Metro transit drivers themselves.
“I pull in and by me being in a hurry and not taking my time, I’m halfway home and left my glasses,” Taylor said.
But there’s also good karma that comes from working in the garage. If nobody puts in a claim, drivers get the chance to play finders keepers.
“The drivers can put on the tag they would like it if it’s not claimed by somebody,” a Metro Transit official said.
Taylor said he’s gotten tons of things from the lost and found, including gloves and umbrellas.
Metro Transit officials said the craziest thing they’ve ever found on a bus was a box containing a skull that was later claimed by a pirate.