Angi Stevens, Star Tribune photo by Paul Walsh

Angi Stevens is a talkative Metro Transit bus driver, and invariably the conversations she has with her passengers turn to the 5-inch Gillig Phantom tattooed on her left forearm.

The eye-catching tattoo is a replica of the city bus she trained on when she joined the transit agency five years ago.

"It's been a hit," said Stevens, 29, of Minneapolis. "Some people think I'm crazy. Others think it's cool. Many people talk about it.  I look down at this and say this is what I do and I'm really good at it."

Angi Stevens' tattoo, Star Tribune photo by Tim Harlow

Her record speaks for itself. In 2012 she participated in the agency's annual bus rodeo that tests drivers' skills and she took home the Rookie of the Year trophy. Last year she finished in the top 25 of all drivers who participated in the annual event. This year she has her sights set on being the next female driver to make the state bus rodeo competition.

Based out of the Nicollet Garage in south Minneapolis, Stevens' effervescent personality has made her a favorite of riders on inner city Routes 2, 4, 6, 9 and 11. Over the years, they've showered her with scarves, chocolate, money and gift cards to show their appreciation. This March, when her five year anniversary rolled around, Driver 71059 rewarded herself with the tattoo.

She found a photo of her training bus online and brought it to Ray Jimenez at Leviticus Tattoo in Minneapolis. He took it from there, creating the likeness of the bus, even inking in the smallest details that included its amber turn signals and Stevens' badge number as the bus number.

Stevens came to Metro Transit after working as a customer service manager at a local supermarket chain and tending bar. She had taken the bus to work and to run errands, and got the idea of becoming a bus driver when she needed a career change.

"I thought, I could totally do that," said Stevens, who ironically, didn't even own a car at the time. "I realized I needed a job with lots of customer interaction."

She gets plenty of that as she picks up many of her Uptown friends and neighbors along with complete strangers who board the buses she drives Tuesdays through Saturdays and point to her tattoo.

"Many people talk about it," said Stevens who also has two other tattoos, an image of the North Shore and a gramophone. "It's my favorite tattoo."

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