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Posts in Category: Community

Awards Bicycle Community Metropass

Commuter Choice Awards celebrate sustainable transportation leaders 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, May 07, 2019 2:53:00 PM

Metro Transit recognized sustainable transportation leaders at the 2019 Commuter Choice Awards.A bakery that boasts of being St. Paul’s only carbon-free carb delivery and a YMCA that rewards members for working out on the way to their workouts were recognized as area mobility leaders this week.

Metro Transit and Transportation Management Organizations (TMOs) celebrated their efforts, along with several others, at the annual Commuter Choice Awards. The awards were presented on Tuesday, May 7, at the University of Minnesota.

Brake Bread, based on St. Paul’s West Seventh Street, was named Organization of the Year. The Midway YMCA, on University Avenue, received an honorable mention in the same category.

Formed in 2014, Brake Bread makes as many as 80 deliveries a day using an electric-assist bike with a trailer attachment. In 2018, they eliminated an estimated 11,000 car trips by relying on bike delivery. Brake Bread also supports customers who bike to its store by participating in the Bicycle Benefits program.

Leaders at the YMCA Midway and YMCA Blaisdell, its sister branch, instituted the Clean Commuter Club in 2018 to encourage members to walk, bike or take transit to the gyms. Members who do not drive to the gym are rewarded with guest passes and other perks.

Metro Transit works with TMOs like Move Minneapolis and Move Minnesota to encourage the use of transit and other alternatives to driving alone. The Commuter Choice Awards were introduced more than a decade ago to celebrate government entities, building owners and individuals who support sustainable transportation.

Nominations are reviewed by transportation and human resources professionals, public officials and advocates. Others recognized at this year's Commuter Choice Awards were:

Employer: Quality Bicycle Products

Quality Bicycle Products of Bloomington offers many benefits to encourage sustainable commuting, including contributions to Health Savings Accounts and credits for bike parts, accessories and apparel. “HealthPartners estimates that Quality Bicycle Products saves $170,000 per year in health care costs by investing $45,000 in incentives,” the company said.

Employer Honorable Mentions: SPS Commerce, University of St. Thomas

Commuter Benefits Coordinator: Heather Galvin, Kari Scanlon

When Rally Health relocated, Heather Galvin worked with Metro Transit to enroll the company in the Metropass program. Kari Scanlon, director of human resources for Touchstone MH, also worked with Metro Transit to join the Metropass program.   

Commuter Champion: Katie Peters

When I Work accountant Katie Peters has coordinated outreach events with Move Minneapolis, organized the company’s Metropass participation and helped lead World Car-Free Day activities. When I Work is in the Ford Building, just east of Target Field Station.

Commuter Champion Honorable Mention: Dana DeMaster

Government Entity: Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board

Board staff responded to the opening of the METRO Green Line and other Capitol-area investments by prioritizing transportation management in an updated comprehensive plan. The plan will serve as a reference for developers and property owners seeking board approval.

Learn how Metro Transit and area TMOs can help promote transit and other alternatives to driving alone 

Community Minneapolis Northstar

In Coon Rapids, hobbyists create scaled-down Northstar 

Posted by Laura Baenen | Wednesday, April 03, 2019 12:08:00 PM

Maria Dierks of Elk River and her grandchildren admire miniature Northstar commuter rail operations and maintenance facility in Big Lake, Minn.Customers who ride the Northstar Commuter Rail Line must look up to take in the nearly 300,000-pound, 16-foot tall locomotives that pull passenger cars between Minneapolis and Big Lake. 

But in the basement of a former Coon Rapids grocery store at 1929 Coon Rapids Blvd., the dimensions of Minnesota’s only commuter rail line aren’t nearly as daunting.

There, the North Metro Model Railroad Club has included miniaturized versions of Northstar’s Operations and Maintenance Facility, locomotives and passenger cars in a sprawling, 5,000-square-foot display of railroads from the Twin Cities to north central Minnesota.

As lifelike as it is, Maria Dierks of Elk River astutely observed a small disparity between the model and the reality it represents. Dierks, who attended a recent open house with her grandchildren, pointed to a Big Lake grain elevator that she said was out of place.

“That’s just where it fundamentally fit in our layout,” said Mitch Pierson, a Coon Rapids resident who built the Northstar model with Jeff Dombrowski of Maple Grove.

Pierson, Dombrowski and other members of the North Metro Model Railroad Club opened their private space to the public last month, responding to interest from a recent feature on WCCO. The club hosts public open houses occasionally throughout the year.

The misplaced grain elevator may not be noticed by most, but the model has other obvious distinctions from its real-life counterpart. The model omits Northstar’s stations and features 25 passenger cars, as opposed to the 18 that the real Northstar uses.

But model railroading is a hobby where there’s always more to do. Dombrowski said he’d like to add motorized doors and lighting to the 3-foot-by-2-foot maintenance facility. If a proposal to extend Northstar to St. Cloud comes to fruition, that too could be represented in the model.

The Northstar model was built in 2013, four years after the real-life service began. The club’s display also includes the Northtown Yard in Fridley and the Shoreham Yards Roundhouse in Minneapolis, among other freight railroad lines and facilities.

To cover expenses, the club’s 45 members pay up to $40 a month in dues. Members have access to the building and can control the trains through apps on their smartphones. Almost $80,000 has been invested in the display since work began in 2011.  

For more information, visit the North Metro Model Railroad Club’s website, nmmrc.org.

 

Bus Community St. Paul

On Transit Driver Appreciation Day, admiration goes both ways 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, March 19, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Transit Driver Appreciation Day was designed to put the focus on operators like Shelly Logelin, who started working at Metro Transit in 2013.

But when students from Saint Paul Public School’s Focus Beyond Transition Services visited Metro Transit’s East Metro Garage on Monday the support went in both directions.

The students, frequent bus riders, visited the garage to hand deliver gift bags filled with snacks and decorated with one of the custom thank you cards they helped design.

But, like several operators in attendance, Logelin said picking up Focus Beyond students is just as much of a highlight for her as it is for the students.

“Even though it’s our appreciation day, we’re giving it back to them to make sure they know they’re appreciated, too,” she said.  

Focus Beyond is a transitional school where students learn how to become more independent. Students often ride in large groups, filling entire buses on routes 54, 70 and 74, as they ride to and from school, work and other destinations.

The students were invited to East Metro after taking the initiative to deliver handmade cards and gift bags to drivers on Transit Driver Appreciation Day in 2018.

Tina Potvin, a teacher who helped organize the efforts, said students ride so frequently that they often develop relationships with the drivers. The kindness, patience and smiles they offer make sure the students always feel welcome, she said. 

“Many of the drivers greet our students by name and learn about all the individual needs they may have,” Potvin said. ”They really go out of their way to make both the students and the staff feel so much more comfortable and welcome.”

Help us recognize great operators

Help Metro Transit recognize great operators by submitting a commendation through our website or by sharing messages on Facebook or Twitter. If you don't know your operator's name, include the operator number on their shoulder so we can share your feedback with them.

Community

On/Off the Clock with Paul Hollen 

Posted by John Komarek | Thursday, December 20, 2018 3:46:00 PM

 

Name: Paul Hollen
Lives: Minneapolis
Job: Assistant Transportation Manager, South Garage
Years of service: 5 1/2

How did you come to work at Metro Transit and what do you do?
After working 20 years in a few different industries, I found myself laid off from my management job at a big box home improvement store. After hearing my story, a member of my church and retired Metro Transit employee, Alphonso Gayle recommended that I apply to be an operator. I followed his advice and the rest is history.

My first job was as an operator at the Nicollet garage. After three years, my managers recognized my potential and I became a relief instructor. I served in this role for two years until I was recently promoted to assistant transportation manager.  Nine months and counting, you can find me at South Garage serving in this position helping plan and manage bus operator performance. I’m responsible for ensuring timely and safe delivery of bus transit services within the region.

Where are you from originally? Tell us a little bit about your background.
I was born in Minneapolis and lived here most of my life.  I grew up in a minister’s home and thought maybe I’d follow my father in church work. But, after becoming an ordained minister, I found that I wasn’t that good at it.  While I didn’t glean my father’s talent for ministry, what I did take away from my childhood was how to fix things. In a small church, we had to fix everything ourselves. He taught me to do floors, walls, windows, doors, heating, cooling, finish carpentry, rough in carpentry, trim work, cabinets and countertops, mechanical, and electrical.  So, that has come in handy throughout the years when I had work to be done, when someone else needed help, or in one of many careers I’ve held through the years.

What do you like the most about your work?
I love people.  I enjoyed driving the bus and meeting all the passengers. And now I am getting to know the 250 plus drivers at South Garage.  I really enjoy working in a place where I can positively affect the community of the council, one operator at a time.  I’m a firm believer that if you are in trouble or have a need, there is help if you know you have a problem and want to change.  I was taught early on to correct in private and praise in public.

What are your favorite activities when you’re “Off the Clock”?
I enjoy helping others – it brings me joy. It’s why I enjoy playing the part of Santa Claus, making appearances all around the city at parties, charities, and even on Metro Transit buses and light rail. Seeing the kids’ faces when I enter the room is priceless. And even when I’m not wearing the costume, I take my role as Santa seriously. It’s probably why I find myself busy making little toys for the children in my workshop.

Outside of my seasonal alter-ego, I also enjoy being outdoors, hunting, fishing, and working at our family cabin on the tractor.  I enjoy having a cup of coffee with friends and family playing games and making memories.  I enjoy a good hot sauna in the back yard. I also enjoy tending the garden.  I have pear, apple and cherry trees; red and black raspberries; rhubarb; blueberries; and grapes. To help the environment, I am also an Apiarist and have twelve bee hives.

Community Shelters

Students ask how neighbors feel about nearby bus stops 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, July 26, 2018 12:05:00 PM

Sketch of a woman planting a bush at a bus stop sign

Metro Transit and community partners have spent a lot of time asking customers how they feel about their bus stop – questions that have led to investments in new shelters, light and other bus stop improvements.

Building on that work, students from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs set out to learn what nearby property owners, residents and workers felt about these locations. The student’s sought to answer three main questions:

  1. How do neighbors feel about nearby bus stops?
  2. What influences these feelings?
  3. How can neighbors become more engaged in creating better bus stops?

To answer these questions, in-person surveys were completed at nine bus stops with different demographics and physical attributes.

The survey found that, overall, bus stops are viewed as a valuable asset, improving walkability and access and potentially supporting local businesses. The survey also found that many community members had taken informal ownership of their nearby bus stop, shoveling snow and picking up litter, and were willing to partner with Metro Transit on future maintenance and improvement activities.

The findings led students to develop several recommendations and key objectives Metro Transit could focus on moving forward.

See the student’s recommendations and read their full report here.

Students who participated in the Capstone Project include: Joseph Ayers-Johnson, Kurt Howard, Casey Lauderdale, Joseph Polacek and Jake Schutt. Illustration courtesy Joseph Polacek.

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