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Posts in Category: Community

Bus Community METRO Green Line St. Paul

Young transit fans go behind the scenes 

| Friday, July 11, 2014 9:37:00 AM

Liam and James Hanley know a thing or two about taking transit in the Twin Cities.

In fact, the brothers have become pretty expert at getting around on buses and trains, having ridden each of the METRO lines, Northstar and more than 20 bus routes since moving to Minnesota three years ago.

A collection of bus schedules from 2005 to the present fills two shoeboxes. James, 10, describes himself as the “family’s trip planner.” Liam, 12, prides himself on his solo trips to the Mall of America and other destinations (“Of all the trips I have taken, I have always come back in one piece even though my mom gets super worried,” he says.)

The brother’s adventures began when they began taking the Blue Line to meet their dad for lunch in downtown Minneapolis and grew after they moved from Edina to St. Paul, where they could access more bus routes. This fall, Liam, will begin riding Route 84 and the Green Line to school every day. James will share the commute the year after.

The enthusiasm for all things transit led Liam and James to recently write to Rider’s Almanac. Seeing their excitement, Metro Transit offered them and their mom, Kate, a tour of the Heywood Garage and the Blue Line’s Operations and Maintenance Facility.

On the tour, the boys saw the bus garage’s maintenance bays, rode in the cab of a light-rail vehicle and met with several staff members who answered their many questions. Here, the boys speak briefly about why they enjoy taking transit:

Bus Community METRO Green Line Minneapolis St. Paul

The last ride on Route 50 

| Wednesday, June 18, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Nikki Bass grew pretty fond of Route 50 over the last decade. The Frogtown resident said the route not only took her where she needed to go but moved at an ideal pace – brisk, but casual enough to let her take in the sights along the way.

On Friday, June 13, Bass spent a little more time looking out the window than usual. That’s because she was among several customers aboard Route 50’s final eastbound journey, which departed downtown Minneapolis shortly after 6 p.m.

“I’m really going to miss it,” Bass said as the bus moved toward the University of Minnesota campus. “The trains are going to be moving so fast, I don’t know if I’ll be able to see as much.”

Despite their nostalgia, Bass and other passengers making their final trips on Route 50 last week said they knew losing the bus meant gaining something even better – reliable, efficient all-day service on the METRO Green Line. Trains replaced Route 50 buses because the Green Line covers the same territory and can provide service more efficiently.

Route 50’s final run came almost 16 years to the day after the limited-stop bus service was introduced in an effort to attract new riders who wanted a faster, more efficient service on University Avenue. Route planner John Levin spoke with Minnesota Public Radio about the route on its first day of service, June 15, 1998, in an interview that can be heard here.  

As Green Line trains began running down University Avenue, several bus routes in the Central Corridor were improved to make the most of the new light-rail service. Besides Route 50, routes 8 and 144 had their final runs on June 13 as service was consolidated with other routes to improve efficiency.

While many Route 50 customers looked fondly on their years riding the bus, their was also excitement about the Green Line's opening. Among those looking forward to the change was Cameron Kolbe, who has commuted on Route 50 for the last eight years. 

“I’ve been psyching myself up and trying to acclimate myself to the fact that this is the new reality,” Kolbe said. “It’s going to be a weird adjustment but I’m looking forward to it.”

Sherry Hurt, who lives near the Green Line’s Victoria Street Station, said she turned to Route 50 two years ago so she could avoid the hassles of driving to work. She plans to use the Green Line to get to her job near the U of M campus and to run errands on University Avenue.

“I’m one of those people who hates to be late,” she said. “This bus always got me there early and I think the train will do the same.”

Being on the final Route 50 trip was particularly symbolic for Melissa Williams, a St. Anthony Park resident who has commuted by bus for nearly a decade. On Saturday, June 14, Williams and her four-year-old son had tickets to be on the first Green Line train departing Raymond Avenue Station.

Riding Route 50 for the last time, Williams said she saw the Green Line’s opening as an historic moment for the community.

“It’s a sign that University Avenue matters,” she said. “A lot of my friends will joke that you have to have a visa to cross over the river (between Minneapolis and St. Paul) but I don’t think that will be the case anymore.”

    > METRO Green Line

    > Enhanced bus service + METRO Green Line

    > Rail returns to the Central Corridor

    > Route 50: Limited stops for longer rides

Photos: Top right, Jodi Elowitz and Debra Jane take their photo while riding on the final eastbound Route 50 trip; the two have commuted to and from the University of Minnesota on Route 50 for the last three years. Bottom left, John Levin, who devised the route as a planner for Metro Transit, rides home after work on Route 50's final day of operation.

Interview from Minnesota Public Radio © 1998. Used with permission. All rights reserved.​

Community METRO Green Line

Green Line poster contest winner revealed 

| Thursday, June 12, 2014 12:39:00 PM

Green Line poster contest winnter Genesia Williams with her winning entry on Thursday, June 12, 2014.When Genesia Williams heard about the METRO Green Line Opening Day Poster Contest, she knew immediately that she had to enter. A graduate of the Minneapolis Community & Technical College’s graphic design and print program, Williams wanted to gauge how others responded to her work, and saw the contest as an ideal opportunity.

“It was an easy and efficient way to test my skill set, to make sure I could tackle something of this size,” said Williams, who lives in Minneapolis and is a frequent transit user. “I just thought, 'Why not give it a go? Why not try it?'”

Turns out people responded quite favorably.

On Thursday, June 12, Williams’ design – a vibrant green featuring an abstract collage of light-rail vehicles – was revealed as the contest’s winning entry. The contest drew 47 entries that were narrowed down to five finalists by a group of community members from neighborhoods along the Green Line and then put up for a public, online vote in May.

To recognize her efforts, Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb presented Williams, 27, with a $500 check and a Go-To Card good for a year’s worth of bus and train rides outside the Green Line’s Operations and Maintenance Facility in Lowertown St. Paul. She will also receive a framed copy of the poster.

More importantly to Williams, her work will be viewed by tens of thousands of people who attend the Green Line’s grand opening. Postcard-sized copies of the poster will be distributed at stations and a limited number of larger copies will be available on Metro Transit's store.

    > Purchase a Commemorative Green Line Poster here

Surrounded by her family, Williams said she was elated to have a part in the history-making opening and that the poster "resonated with the people that the work was there to serve."

“I’m so excited I can’t even contain it,” she said.

    > METRO Green Line

    > Celebrate Green Line opening with commemorative Go-To Card

    > Star Tribune: Metro Transit unveils poster commemorating Green Line opening

    > Pioneer Press: Green Line poster designer wins free rides for a year

 

Community METRO Green Line Safety Transit Police

Transit Police geared up for Green Line 

| Thursday, May 29, 2014 10:51:00 AM

Guest post by Metro Transit Police Chief John Harrington

University Avenue looks much different today than it did when I began riding Metro Transit buses as a patrol officer more than 20 years ago. The METRO Green Line promises to bring even more change to the corridor, long the busiest east-west transitway in Minnesota.

While we don't expect light rail to dramatically alter the public safety dynamic in St. Paul, the return of rail service is something everyone along the route must prepare for – including local, county and state police.

Metro Transit Police officers are doing just that, connecting with community members and residents, strengthening partnerships with partner agencies and growing to meet the demands of our growing transit system.

In March and April, Metro Transit and partner agencies held joint emergency preparedness exercises at Stadium Village and Raymond Avenue stations to simulate emergencies involving light-rail. To reinforce safety messages, Metro Transit and St. Paul police in April began an outreach campaign to provide motorists, pedestrians, transit customers and bicyclists the information they need to safely navigate the Green Line corridor. We’ve interacted directly with hundreds of residents and will continue this important work after trains open to the public on June 14.

We’ve also grown the department to keep up with the expansion of transit services. Another 20 part-time officers were sworn in this week, expanding the force to a diverse group of 94 full-time and 100 part-time officers. Many of these officers will work out of our new East Command center near University Avenue, including 22 who will focus specifically on the Green Line and the neighborhoods it serves.

As Capt. Jim Franklin recently told The Star Tribune, the “rail beat concept” will be a key to effectively policing the Green Line corridor. “You get officers that know the area very well,” Franklin told the newspaper. “They know the businesses. They know the community and really will get to know the ridership.”

Building these relationships will be aided by the fact that officers will spend more time than ever patrolling on foot, on bike and on board trains and buses. A number of officers were recently added to our bike patrol squad, which can be more nimble in Green Line’s dense urban environment. In Minneapolis, we are participating once again in Minneapolis SafeZone, a multi-agency effort that provides additional patrols to ensure safety during the busy summer months.

While building personal relationships is important, we are also harnessing data to focus our efforts and using technology more than ever. Each Green Line station and all light-rail trains are equipped with multiple security cameras that can be monitored in real time. Call boxes at each station are available in the event of an emergency.

Like University Avenue, our department will continue to evolve and grow as trains transform the way Twin Cities residents get around. Whatever the future holds our fundamental approach to policing and commitment to providing a safe, secure environment for all who use or interact with transit will never change.

    > Star Tribune: Get a driver's point of view riding alongside Green Line

    > Police Chief John Harrington on MPR's Daily Circuit

    > MPR: Walk, bike and drive safely along the Green Line

    > Pioneer Press: Policing the Green Line: Metro Transit promises cameras, cops, analysis

    > Star Tribune: Police prepare for safety on Green Line

    > WCCO: Officials work to educate public on Green Line safety

    > Fox 9: Officers patrol University Avenue to raise light rail awareness

    > KSTP: Navigating the new METRO Green Line

    > Pioneer Press: Green Line will require safety heads-up by motorists and pedestrians

    > Star Tribune: Emergency-preparedness drill near the U tests response to train-bus crash

    > Pioneer Press: Light rail readies to roll, and St. Paul responders prepare, too

    > KSTP: Crews practice emergency response with light rail derailment situation

    > Star Tribune: Busier, safer St. Paul streets

    > Green Line Safety

    > Transit Police on board and on bike

Bicycle Bus Community Express Bus Promotions Suburban Transit

Bridging bikes and buses brings serenity instead of stress 

| Wednesday, May 07, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Mike Bastyr on his bike during his daily commute. When Mike Bastyr started working in downtown Minneapolis more than 20 years ago, he quickly grew tired of battling traffic on Interstate 35W. To circumvent the stress, he turned to Route 250, an express service that runs between Lino Lakes and Minneapolis.

Not long after he started commuting by bus, Bastyr went a step further and began to bike the six miles that separated his Shoreview home from his boarding location, the County Road H Park & Ride in Mounds View.

The half-hour bike trip finds him on quiet residential streets and the Rice Creek North Regional Trail, a wooded area he describes as “very serene.” The trail cuts through woodlands and connects to County Road H just west of I-35W.

“There’s a lot of wildlife,” Bastyr said after completing a recent ride. “This morning it was two deer. Last week it was a fox, an osprey and an eagle. It’s just a really pleasant experience no matter what time it is.”

After maintaining the routine year-round since 2000, Bastyr believes he’s logged an estimated 26,000 miles traveling between his home and the Park & Ride. Avoiding gas fill-ups and using an employer-subsidized Metropass, he has also saved untold amounts of money. Bastyr's commuting costs are less than $50 a month.

“This bike has paid for itself a few times over,” he joked.

Bastyr’s commute provides a good example of how biking and transit can be combined, even in suburban areas. There are 15 Metro Transit Park & Rides with bike lockers – secure, weatherproof storage areas that rent for $48 a year, with a refundable damage deposit. Bike lockers are also located at select Northstar and METRO Blue Line stations.

For those who want to bring the bike along, buses are equipped with front-end racks; bikes can be brought directly on board Northstar and light-rail trains.

As part of Bike Week, Metro Transit offered free rides to customers who biked to select Park & Rides and completed their trip on a bus or train. The Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition also offered free ride coupons to bicyclists at the Blue Line's 38th Street Station and at the corner of East Lake and West River roads.

Long-term, the Metropolitan Council wants to strengthen the link between biking and taking transit by prioritizing regional on- and off-road investments that would better connect cyclists to the regional transit system.

A recently-completed Regional Bicycle System Study, developed with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, provides a Regional Transportation Network for developing such connections in the future. The proposed network will be incorporated in the Met Council’s draft 2040 Transportation Policy Plan, which will be be distributed for public review this summer.

While it’s difficult to know exactly how many people combine biking and transit, there is ample evidence that more people are biking and taking transit in the Twin Cities. The number of bicyclists counted in Bike Walk Twin Cities’ annual survey increased 78 percent between 2007 and 2013. More than 4 percent of Minneapolis residents bike to work, one of the highest rates in the country, according to the U.S. Census.

Metro Transit’s ridership increased by more than 300,000 rides between 2012 and 2013 and is at the highest level in three decades.

Shirley Urman, of Mounds View, is among those who are combining biking and transit.

The 17-year-old began riding to the County Road H Park & Ride earlier this year when she started taking classes at Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley. Urman brings her bike to Minneapolis so she can ride to her transfer bus, Route 755, and enjoy a leisurely ride after school in nearby Theodore Wirth Regional Park.

Besides giving her more flexibility to get around, Urman said riding her bike to the Park & Ride each morning gives her the boost she needs to start her day.

“I was really tired and wouldn’t want to go to school, but once I had exercise in the morning I was pumped for my day,” she said, traveling in on Route 250. “I just kept doing it and now it’s a habit.”

Bastyr hopes he and Urman will be joined by even more bikers in the future. Bastyr’s best advice to those who want to make biking a part of their commute is to start slowly, riding only as much as comfortable and ramping up as confidence and enthusiasm builds.

“After a while it becomes a routine,” he said. “That’s what it’s developed into for me – a routine experience where instead of getting in your car and driving some place you hop on your bike and pedal instead.”

    > Park & Ride Search

    > Bike Lockers

    > Regional Bicycle System Study

    > Biking to work increases 60 percent over last decade, Census Bureau reports

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