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Bus Community Light Rail

Taking time to say thanks on Transit Driver Appreciation Day 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, March 16, 2018 12:45:00 PM

Metro Transit’s 1,600 bus and train operators received extra kudos this week as supporters celebrated Transit Driver Appreciation Day.

Transit Driver Appreciation Day got its start in 2009, when a group of riders in Seattle, Wash., wanted to show support for their operators. It has historically been celebrated on March 18, the date the first known bus service is believed to have been offered, in 1662 in Paris, France (in the Twin Cities, auto owners began charging for rides as early as 1915, a business that soon gave rise to the area’s first bus services).

Today, Metro Transit is among many transit agencies that pause to recognize their operators for their service.

In addition to the messages of appreciation, The Current helped recognize Transit Driver Appreciation Day this year by devoting its morning Coffee Break to transit-themed songs. The playlist included The Hollies “Bus Stop” and The Replacements “Kiss Me On The Bus” (find more "essential transit tunes" on CityLab).

General Manager Brian Lamb, Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff, and several Council members also took time to personally thank operators. 

Thanks to everyone who helped us celebrate and remember, operators can be commended for their service any time. Let us know what you love about your operator by submitting a commendation online or by calling 612-373-3333.

Don’t know their name? We can identify the operator with their driver number, found on the uniform sleeve, vehicle number, and information about where and when you rode.

Learn more about some of Metro Transit's bus and train operators through our "Know Your Operator" series. Also, we’re hiring bus operators. Just saying.

Here’s a small sampling of shout-outs from social media:

Community

A son’s memories lead to Wall of Fame honors 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, February 09, 2018 10:16:00 AM

For Metro Transit Safety Specialist Tim Bowman, White Castle is more than a place to get a steamed, five-hole hamburger. 

The restaurant is such a prominent part of his life, in fact, that Bowman recently wrote to the restaurant asking if they’d consider including his father and him in their Wall of Fame, which for the past 17 years has recognized fervent fans like him known as “Cravers.”

This week, he traveled to Indianapolis, Ind., to accept the honors at a corporate get-together. In addition to an induction ceremony, he and other invited guests were treated to a private dining experience at a local White Castle. Bowman took the opportunity to step behind the counter to flip burgers, grill onions and fold boxes. 

The experience comes more than 50 years after Donald Bowman began taking his son to the White Castle on St. Paul's Rice Street, where they'd order from the front seat of the car. Later in life, they’d meet at the White Bear Avenue location before bowling on weekends or before heading off to work. After he got married, Bowman began taking his wife there for their white tablecloth service on Valentine’s Day. 

A 37-year employee in St. Paul’s street maintenance department, Donald Bowman also frequently met retired co-workers at the restaurant.  

When his dad entered a nursing home a few years ago, White Castle became the final stop when Tim Bowman and his dad ventured out to run errands. It was during those visits that Tim Bowman realized just how deep a connection his father had to the restaurant and those who worked there. 

“We’d go through the drive through, he’d be in the passenger seat, and there would be three or four employees hanging out the window because they hadn’t seen him in so long,” he said. 

When Donald succumbed to illness in 2016, more than 200 hamburgers and cheeseburgers were served at the funeral. Tim Bowman said this week's induction into the Wall of Fame is an even more enduring way of memorializing the bond that was developed between father, son and White Castle over the years. 

“When I think of the 57 years I had with my dad, and of the 53 that I can remember, White Castle is heavily included in them,” he said. “It’s a real honor for my father and I to be inductees in the White Castle Hall of Fame.”

Bus Community METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line

Big snow met with persistence, praise 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, January 23, 2018 12:56:00 PM

The Twin Cities was hit with its biggest winter storm in seven years on Monday, bringing a foot or more of snow to several parts of the metro.

Snow-covered roads and traffic delays caused widespread bus delays, with many operators pulling in hours after their shifts were scheduled to come to an end. Street Supervisors and Mechanic Technicians spent a large part of the evening responding to buses that had become stuck in the snow. Public Facilities Workers and Facilities Technicians were also out throughout the night and following day clearing snow from boarding locations (How does Metro Transit prioritize snow removal? Good Question!

The demand for service updates during the storm was overwhelming: Transit Information Center representatives handled more than 3,400 calls on Monday, 25 percent higher than the average weekday call volume. The number of customers using the “Show My Bus” feature, the online tool that shows where buses are at in real time, also saw a huge increase in usage.

Despite the difficulties, many customers expressed their appreciation.

Operator Thomas Logan received two commendations from customers who were impressed with the way he handled his stuck bus, 146A: 

"Everyone transferred onto Thomas' bus, but it too became stuck in the exact same spot. Infinitely patient Thomas persevered, however, rocking our bus to and fro, to and fro, for a good 15 minutes until he finally got it moving. We all clapped and cheered him on! He made the turn onto 50th St., but it wasn't long before he ran into more stranded buses with more spinning wheels, as well as cars blocking the road in every haphazard way imaginable -- in other words, countless obstacles to our continued progress. Thomas persevered patiently, diligently and carefully until we finally crossed Highway 100 into Edina. Thomas not only exemplifies "Minnesota Nice," but he's a driver of superb skill with a genuinely humane nature, and he does Metro Transit proud. He deserves your highest commendation for his outstanding level of service last night."

"You need many more drivers to be like Thomas. He was just great in the face of very poor weather and driving conditions. Wonderful job!"

A sampling of other comments is below. Did you witness great service? Submit a commendation online or by phone.

Learn more about how to stay informed when winter weather strikes at metrotransit.org/snow

 

 

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Bus Community METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line State Fair

State Fair, Green Line see record ridership 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, September 07, 2017 4:55:00 PM

Metro Transit served fairgoers and fans on one of its busiest days ever, Thursday, Aug. 31.A record number of fairgoers rode to and from the Minnesota State Fair with Metro Transit and the METRO Green Line had its busiest day ever when the fair and several other events landed on the same day last week.

Metro Transit provided just over 654,000 express and regular route bus rides to the State Fair, topping last year’s record State Fair ridership by just over 21,500 rides. The ridership total accounts for just over 16 percent of State Fair attendance, which also reached an all-time high this year.

“The State Fair’s popularity shows just how eager Minnesotans are to enjoy each other and all our state has to offer,” General Manager Brian Lamb said. “It’s exciting to see that eagerness to come together extend to our buses and trains more and more every year.”

State Fair Express Bus service was offered from 13 Park & Rides throughout the Twin Cities. This was the 25th year Metro Transit provided express bus service to the State Fair. The State Fair ridership total also includes rides provided on several routes that serve the fairgrounds, including the new A Line on Snelling Avenue.

Fairgoers and fans also helped set a single-day ridership record for the Green Line on Thursday, Aug. 31. There were 68,071 Green Line rides taken that day, surpassing a previous-high of 66,018 rides, set on Oct. 3, 2016. 

Systemwide, 358,617 rides were taken on Thursday, Aug. 31, when weekday commuters were joined by fairgoers and fans traveling to Twins, Vikings, Gophers and Saints home games. The total is slightly below the single-day record of 369,626 rides set on Sept. 1, 2016, and is 37 percent higher than the year-to-date average weekday ridership.

The Aug. 31 total also includes 241,000 bus rides, 44,000 Blue Line rides and 5,500 Northstar rides.

See how it all went down in this video. Thanks for riding!

Bicycle Community How We Roll Light Rail Rider Profile

How We Roll: Ed Alvarez, Facilities Technician 

Posted by jennasbennett | Tuesday, June 13, 2017 11:37:00 AM

Many Metro Transit employees are committed to sustainable transportation, riding the bus or train, biking or walking to work and other destinations across the region. These “How We Roll” profiles are a chance to illustrate how much we have in common with our customers when it comes to how we get around. See you out there!

Ed Alvarez, Facilities Technician

How do you get to work?

I live in Burnsville and do a mix of taking the Blue Line and riding my bike. Usually what I do is load my bike on my vehicle, drive to the 28th Avenue Park and Ride and get on the Blue Line with my bike. Depending on how much I feel like biking that day, I’ll take the light rail to either Fort Snelling or Minnehaha Park, get off and bike the rest of the way. From Fort Snelling, it’s nine miles to Transfer Road (Metro Transit's facilities team is based at this location, just north of University Avenue). Out of curiosity, one time I rode my bike from my house to Transfer Road and it took me two hours!

Why do you choose to bike?

Really, it’s for the exercise. I play hockey and biking keeps me in shape for that. It’s amazing how you can stay fit by biking just a few hours a week. I even bike in the rain and snow. I actually love riding in the rain! For rain, I wear protective gear, including booties that cover my shoes so they don’t get wet. For snow, I have a bike with studded tires and that helps eliminate my worry about hitting an ice patch. I have five bikes total – three mountain bikes, a road bike and a hybrid.

How long have you been biking?

I’ve been biking my whole life. I started biking to work in 1981 when I was at Ruter Garage and a lot younger. Then I got older, got married, had kids and stopped biking to work for a number of years and drove instead. Over the past three years, I’ve started biking again to stay in shape. I've been at Metro Transit for 37 years and I hope to keep biking to work as long as I’m able.

What do you enjoy most about your methods of commuting?

When I’m on the Blue Line, I like to use the time to listen to music. What I love about biking is that it is so relaxing and peaceful on the path. When I’m driving on I-35W it’s so crowded and stressful. When I get up in the morning for work and the alarm goes off, I look forward to starting my day with a bike ride.

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