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From the GM Go Green

Commitment to environment goes beyond sustainable transportation 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, April 20, 2018 2:10:00 PM

From General Manager Brian Lamb

Passenger cars and other vehicles are Minnesota’s second-largest source of greenhouse gases, a leading cause of climate change and air pollution. And while advances in technology have led to a steady decline in vehicle emissions, there’s still a lot more to be done.

As an agency, Metro Transit is helping the state meet its clean air goals primarily by offering convenient alternatives to driving alone, providing more than 280,000 rides each weekday.

But the commitment to the environment doesn’t end there. In fact, Metro Transit has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the most sustainability-minded transit agencies in the country. The agency has achieved Gold Level status in the American Public Transportation Association's Sustainability Commitment program. 

As we celebrate Earth Day this week, we wanted to share a few of the other ways we’re reducing our environmental impact:

 > For the past year, we’ve collected compostable materials like food scraps and paper napkins at our Heywood Office, Transit Control Center and Transfer Road facilities. Along with traditional recycling efforts, we’re keeping about two-thirds of what we toss from ending up in the waste stream. We plan to expand these composting and recycling efforts to each of our garages and other support facilities later this year.

 > By the end of this year, around 75 percent of the fixtures at our support and customer facilities will be equipped with energy-efficient LED lighting. This lighting not only uses less energy but is longer-lasting and less-costly to maintain.

  > We continue to install small solar panels at waiting shelters to power lighting at these locations. We also continue to explore opportunities to put more solar panels on the rooftops of our support and public facilities (above, panels at the Maplewood Mall Transit Center and Park & Ride). Coupled with the energy we purchase from solar installations at Council-owned sites, we are on track to achieve our goal of having all our energy needs met by renewable resources as early as 2040.

 > As part of our C Line project, we plan to purchase eight fully-electric buses and install charging equipment at the Heywood Garage and Brooklyn Center Transit Center later this year. We’ll also be adding more electric vehicles to our non-revenue fleet and consider buying electric buses as we replace older vehicles and expand our service.

> Fleetwide fuel economy continues to improve, from just under 4 miles per gallon in 2008 to nearly 5 miles per gallon in 2017. We recently began using synthetic engine oil in our buses, a change that allows us to use less oil by doubling the interval between oil changes. New engine technologies and advanced exhaust filtration systems have also significantly reduced the amount of harmful emissions coming from our buses.

 > The new Metro Transit Police Headquarters will be our most sustainable building ever, with a geothermal system that heats and cools the building, natural lighting and other energy-saving features. Designs for a new service garage north of Heywood also call for a host of energy-saving features.

 > Later this month, we’ll begin using technology that will allow us to capture and re-use more of the energy produced when Blue Line trains brake, a system that could be incorporated into future light rail extensions.

Thank you to all our customers who are doing part to support the environment by riding with us. We share your commitment to the environment and hope to continue building on that commitment in the years to come. 

Celebrate Earth Day with us on April 22

The METRO Blue and Green lines will be operated 100 percent by wind power on Earth Day (Sunday, April 22) with Xcel Energy's WindSource® program. Light rail is always zero-emission travel at the source, since it always operates using electricity. Using wind power for Earth Day makes it a truly sustainable transportation option from the energy source to the vehicle.

Make a sustainable choice every day with Metro Transit! A single bus has the potential to take 40+ individual cars off the road and a 3 car light-rail train can remove almost 600 cars from the roadways when people ride. 

Learn more about our fuel efficient and upcoming all-electric vehicles along with other environmental improvements at

Bus Go Green

New solar array boosts commitment to renewable energy 

| Friday, April 28, 2017 9:17:00 AM

A 40-kilowatt solar array atop the Maplewood Mall Transit Center in Maplewood.A 40-kilowatt solar array was recently installed on the top level of the parking ramp at the Maplewood Mall Transit Center, near the Maplewood Mall.

The panels will help offset a portion of the energy used at the transit center, saving approximately $6,000 in utility costs annually. In addition to lowering energy costs, the system will help Metro Transit better understand how to use solar arrays at other existing and future facilities.

Proposals to install arrays atop six Metro Transit support buildings, including several bus garages, are now under review.

Open since 2013, the Maplewood Mall Transit Center also features a geothermal heating and cooling system and energy efficient LED lighting. It is served by multiple local and express bus routes.​

Solar panels are also in use at Metro Transit's 610 & Noble Parkway Park & Ride, Rail Support Facility and at several bus stops throughout the region. Metro Transit is also supporting solar energy by purchasing power produced from installations at two Council wastewater treatment plants

Metro Transit is one of a handful of agencies to obtain Gold Level certification through the American Public Transportation Association's Sustainability Commitment Program. 

Bicycle Carpool Car-Sharing Community Go Green Rideshare Vanpool

Commuter Choice Awards recognize sustainable transportation leaders 

| Thursday, April 28, 2016 4:01:00 PM

Most days, Matt Privratsky gets to work by taking an hour-long walk from his Midway area home to downtown St. Paul. The 3.5-mile trek might also involve boarding a bus, catching the METRO Green Line or using a Nice Ride bike – or some combination of all of the above.

“Walking all the way helps you get mentally prepared, and it’s also very relaxing,” Privratsky said. “By the time I get home, I’m in a really nice relaxed mental state. And because I stay active as part of my day, I don’t need to intentionally exercise or have a gym membership.”

The multi-modal approach reflects the habits of many of his co-workers at Fresh Energy, a St. Paul-based independent non-profit that works to make Minnesota’s energy system cleaner and more efficient. Ninety percent of Fresh Energy’s staff walk, bike or take transit to work.

While sustainable transportation naturally aligns with Fresh Energy’s mission, it also reflects a robust transportation benefits program. Employees can earn $2 per day by walking or biking to work. Fresh Energy also matches employee spending on transit.

To help car-free employees like Privratsky get to appointments and meetings during the day, Fresh Energy subsidizes annual Nice Ride memberships and has accounts with car-sharing services car2go and HOURCAR.

Fresh Energy’s efforts were recognized this week at the Commuter Choice Awards, where employers, organizations and individuals who share a commitment to sustainable transportation were celebrated.

The annual awards were presented by Metro Transit in partnership with the region’s Transportation Management Organizations (TMOs) – Commuter ServicesAnoka County Commute SolutionsMove Minneapolis and St. Paul Smart Trips. A panel of Twin Cities transportation experts evaluated nominations in selecting the winners.

“Metro Transit is proud to recognize all those who share its commitment to sustainable transportation,” Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said. “As these honors reflect, our region benefits from having a strong transit network as well as many other transportation options that provide alternatives to driving alone.”  

A list of awards presented at the 2016 Commuter Choice Awards is below. Learn how Metro Transit and the region's TMOs can help your organization here

Building Owner/Management Company: CenterPoint Energy

Directly adjacent to the Nicollet Mall Station, CenterPoint Energy’s new corporate headquarters provides employees convenient transit access. The move also presented an opportunity to create a new shared space for Meet Minneapolis and Move Minneapolis, which promotes transit, carpooling, biking and walking among downtown Minneapolis commuters, residents and visitors. The street-level retail space opened in 2015.

Honorable mention: Normandale Lake Office Park, Hines Property Management

Employer: Fresh Energy

Fresh Energy’s commitment to clean energy and sustainable transportation is reflected in the non-profit’s transportation benefits program. Employees can earn $2 per day by walking or biking to Fresh Energy’s St. Paul offices. Fresh Energy also matches employee spending on transit. To help employees travel to appointments and meetings during the day, Fresh Energy subsidizes annual Nice Ride memberships, has a business account with car2go and has a corporate account with HOURCAR. As a result of their comprehensive transportation benefits program, 90 percent of Fresh Energy staff walk, bike, or take transit to work.

Honorable mention: Barr Engineering Co., Sovos Compliance, Be the Match

Government Entity: St. Paul Public Housing Agency

The St. Paul Public Housing Agency has gone above and beyond to encourage active transportation among residents in its housing communities. Partnering with Cycles for Change, nearly 900 free bikes, helmets and locks have distributed to youth since 2012. Residents also have access to free Nice Ride memberships, bike repair stations and workshops on bicycle maintenance. Resident-led walking groups have also encouraged residents to move more and explore their neighborhoods.

Individual: Brian Nelson

Since taking over Best Buy’s commuter benefits program in 2015, Brian Nelson has worked to enhance and expand benefits for employees at the company’s Richfield headquarters and at locations across the country. Nelson advocated for and then helped to implement a pre-tax commuter benefit program that allows employees to pay for their transit costs with pre-tax dollars. The number of employees who use transit, carpool and vanpool have risen as a result of his efforts.

Honorable mention: Jeff Hainlen, Rebecca Airmet

Organization: Minnesota Life College

Minnesota Life College offers a three-year program for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other learning disorders. As part of their life skills training, instructors teach these individuals how to travel independently on transit. By building their skills and confidence, graduates have the freedom to get themselves to work and appointments, run errands and pursue their dreams.

Commuter Choice Awards 2016

Bus Go Green

Solar power providing more shelter lighting 

| Friday, October 30, 2015 10:49:00 AM

A pole-mounted solar panel is used to provide power for lighting at this Metro Transit bus shelter.Solar panels have been installed at 17 new boarding locations, supplying energy to keep waiting shelters lit at night.

The solar-powered shelters are located at sites along Xerxes Avenue in Brooklyn Center, on Fremont, Lyndale, Plymouth and West Broadway avenues in North Minneapolis and at several locations in Brooklyn Park.  

With the latest wave of installations, there are now more than 30 Metro Transit shelters supplied by solar power. In 2010 and 2012, solar panels were installed along Franklin Avenue and at sites in Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park and North Minneapolis.

The pole-mounted solar panels feed a rechargeable battery pack that can provide up to 30 hours of energy for motion-sensored lights. Metro Transit is currently exploring options for mounting solar panels directly on shelter rooftops.

Solar panels are used at sites where the cost of powering the site through a utility connection is cost-prohibitive.

Where possible, lighting will be included at all shelters installed through the Better Bus Stop Program. By the end of 2015, shelters will have been installed at 51 locations where none had previously existed. Many of these sites will include light.

The solar-powered shelters are a small part of a broader effort to cut the amount of purchased energy used at Metro Transit facilities in half by 2020.

Large solar arrays are in place at the 610 & Noble Parkway Park & Ride in Brooklyn Park and at the Rail Support Facility in Minneapolis. In 2016, rooftop solar arrays will be installed at bus garages in Minneapolis, Bloomington and St. Paul, as well as a light-rail maintenance facility on the METRO Blue Line and a bus maintenance building in St. Paul.

    > Better Bus Stops

    > Metro Transit takes leap forward on solar energy

Bus Community Go Green

Metro Transit putting electric buses to the test 

| Friday, April 17, 2015 8:30:00 AM

Metro Transit was among the first transit agencies in the country to put hybrid buses into service in 2002. A decade later, two of the country’s first next-generation electric-hybrid buses were added to the fleet.

Now the time has come to explore the industry’s next emerging technology – electric buses.

Three manufacturers will showcase their all-electric buses in service in April and May, giving customers, local leaders and Metro Transit opportunities to learn more about the vehicles. The buses rely solely on on-board energy stored in batteries. Because there is no diesel engine, the buses produce no emissions.

Metro Transit has made no commitments to purchase electric buses but hopes to gain a better understanding of their potential future use in the Twin Cities by putting them into service and allowing staff to familiarize themselves during garage visits.

    > Photos: Electric bus demonstrations

“Electric buses are an exciting, emerging technology that we want to learn more about and introduce to the community,” General Manager Brian Lamb said. “Metro Transit is a proven sustainability leader and is committed to building on that success as new technologies become available.”

Demonstration buses will complement but not replace regular route service. Customers will be allowed to ride for free and can board at designated Metro Transit bus stops.

The demonstration project began on Tuesday, April 21, when an electric bus made by New Flyer made its regional debut. The bus was also in service on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22.

An electric bus made by Proterra will be demonstrated on Tuesday, May 12, and Wednesday, May 13; a BYD electric bus will be demonstrated on Tuesday, May 19, and Wednesday, May 20.

At the end of 2014, there were more than 900 buses in Metro Transit’s fleet. Approximately 15 percent of the fleet is hybrid vehicles, which get better fuel economy and have lower emissions than traditional diesel buses. Hybrids are primarily used on urban, local routes.

Metro Transit’s fuel efficiency has improved 15 percent fleetwide since 2008 through the expanded use of hybrid buses and improved performance on all vehicles.

In 2014, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) recognized Metro Transit as an industry leader in sustainability for its efforts to reduce energy consumption. Metro Transit is one of just a dozen agencies that have earned Gold Level status through APTA’s Sustainability Commitment program. Environmental responsibility is among Metro Transit’s Guiding Principles.

Where to find electric buses

Below is an approximate schedule outlining where demonstration buses will be in service. Please check back for updates. Details will also be provided through Metro Transit’s Twitter account, @metrotransitmn, during the demonstration period. 

New Flyer

Tuesday, April 21-Wednesday April 22 (Earth Day)

Bus was in-service between downtown Minneapolis and the 46th Street Station (Route 18).

​> Learn more about New Flyer's Xcelsior® Electric Bus


Tuesday, May 12

In-service throughout the morning on Grand Avenue (Route 63) and in the afternoon on West 7th Street, St. Paul (routes 54 and 74).

Wednesday, May 13

In-service on Robert Street during the morning (Route 68), in the afternoon on University Avenue between the Green Line's Raymond Avenue Station and downtown St. Paul (Route 67) and in the evening on Grand Avenue (Route 63).

> Learn more about Proterra's Catalyst electric bus


Tuesday, May 19

In-service throughout the morning on Lake Street (Route 21) and in the afternoon on West Broadway Avenue between downtown Minneapolis and Robbinsdale (Route 14).

Wednesday, May 20

In-service between the Southdale Transit Center and downtown Minneapolis (Route 6), in the afternoon on Central Avenue (Route 10) and in the evening on Lake Street (Route 21).

> Learn more about BYD's electric bus

In the news

> Star Tribune: Metro Transit to test drive electric buses

MPR: Metro Transit testing electric buses for faster routes

> KARE-11: Metro Transit tests electric buses

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