When Walt Woodward first went to work for the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, the buses didn't have power steering. They weren't air conditioned either.
"Our destination signs were all hand-painted on canvas and on a hand-cranked roller," he said.
Since then, a lot has changed. And Woodward has been there every step of the way - since Nov. 23, 1970.
"I thought this would be a good place to come to work. I'll be here five or six years and move onto bigger and better things."
Fast-forward 45 years, and Woodward is finally retiring.
"I still got it in my head I'm on vacation and that I've got to come back to work next week or the week after," he said with a chuckle.
Walt Woodward has worked for the KCATA for 45 years. In April, he finally decided to retire.
Woodward came to the KCATA in 1970 after working at a Mobile gas station pumping gas, mounting tires and checking fluids seven days a week. He said the KCATA would have better pay and benefits for his family. He was married with a small child. At the time, Woodward was just 18 years old.
He started cleaning buses then transferred over to the mechanic side. He ran the body shop for 28 years before being promoted to the head of maintenance for the entire authority.
"I've been most proud of the fact that we have one of the best looking fleets in the nation. We do a great job at maintaining our coaches here," Woodward said.
Woodward received recognition from Dick Davis, the former general manager of the KCATA.
Woodward has seen the KCATA expand its fleet, modernize buses and rebrand itself at least three times. One of the biggest accomplishments he took part in, he said, was fueling the buses with natural gas. KCATA currently has 20 Compressed Natural Gas buses.
As for retirement, Woodward said it hasn't sunk in just yet. While his ride as boss is over, his rides on the bus are far from being done.
"I plan on [riding the bus], definitely. And then I'll be calling somebody to tell them what I find wrong."
Woodward worked many jobs at the KCATA. One of his jobs required him to tow buses during major snow storms.
Ariel Rothfield can be reached at Ariel.Rothfield@KSHB.com.