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Posts in Category: Community

A Line BRT Bus Community METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Minneapolis St. Paul State Fair

A Line opening sparks curiosity, enthusiasm 

| Tuesday, June 14, 2016 8:38:00 AM

Customers board the A Line at Snelling and University avenues on Saturday, June 11.Car free for the last five years, Michelle Quaranto relies on transit to travel between her home near the Green Line’s Raymond Avenue Station and her job in Eagan.  

So when the A Line opened on Saturday, she was eager to see how her commute would change once she was able to begin using the region’s first rapid bus service.

In the past, Quaranto took Route 84 between the Green Line’s Snelling Avenue Station and the Blue Line’s 46th Street Station. The A Line now offers faster, more frequent service between those two points.

“I really rely on transit to make my life better,” Quaranto said before boarding at Snelling and University avenues shortly after the A Line opened on Saturday, June 11. “Taking light rail to the 84 was usually my quickest option, and now it will be even quicker which is great.”

Several others who ventured out for their inaugural rides on the A Line were similarly excited about its arrival and the impact it would have on their daily travels.           

The first of a dozen planned rapid bus lines, the A Line runs between Rosedale Center and the Blue Line’s 46th Street Station on Snelling Avenue, Ford Parkway and 46th Street. Service runs every ten minutes and trips are up to eight minutes faster than regular route buses.

Trips are sped up through a combination of light-rail like features like off-board fare payments, technology that lets A Line buses request longer green lights at intersections and by locating stations a half-mile apart.

A Line stations also have heat, light, displays with real-time NexTrip transit information and security features more commonly found on light-rail.

“It really is kind of like riding a train,” said North St. Paul resident David Hull as he and his wife Roseanne traveled southbound from Rosedale Center for the first time.

Hull’s family of five shares two vehicles, so he was curious to see if he could relieve some of the demand by taking the A Line and the Blue Line to a new job at the Veteran’s Administration.

Tyler Schow, a downtown Minneapolis resident who frequently rides transit, noticed a difference even before boarding. “My favorite part is that you can see the bus coming from a distance and instead of stopping it just keeps coming,” Schow said.  

Bus operators picking up A Line customers for the first time were also enjoying the ride. “What I like about it is it’s very fluid,” Operator Roosevelt Scott said.           

Others trying out the A Line said it would make them more likely to explore the businesses along the corridor. Rosedale Center, Har Mar Mall, the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, Macalester College, Hamline University, Highland Park and Minnehaha Park are among the destinations served by the A line. The site of a planned major league soccer stadium is also located at University and Snelling avenues. 

“I like to explore different areas and this is a great way to do that,” said Onrai Terrell who ventured to the A Line’s opening from Eagan by taking the METRO Red Line, a Bus Rapid Transit service on Cedar Avenue, and the Blue Line.

Ted Davis, of the Midway Chamber of Commerce, touched on the importance of transit in attracting new businesses, workers and residents as he joined others celebrating the A Line’s opening . “This is how we compete on a global scale, by creating the kinds of places people want to come to,” he said.

Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said a network of rapid bus lines would extend the benefits across the region. A planned network of 12 rapid bus lines on busy urban corridors could ultimately account for a third of Metro Transit’s average weekday ridership.

Construction on the next rapid bus line, the C Line on Penn Avenue, is scheduled to begin in 2018

“If you can’t figure out how to move people and not just vehicles, we’re not going to achieve what we want to achieve in this region,” Lamb said. 


Metro Transit A Line Opening Day

Community METRO Green Line On the METRO

At Hamline Station, a welcome combination of affordable housing and transit 

| Monday, May 16, 2016 10:19:00 AM

ReJeana Hill moved into a new apartment at Hamline Station earlier this year so she could be close to the METRO Green Line. ReJeana Hill was waiting for a METRO Green Line train at Hamline Avenue Station when she spotted a newly-planted sign on the vacant lot across University Avenue.

Apartments coming soon, it said.

Eager to find an affordable place with more room and easy transit access, she took out her cell phone and dialed the number immediately. Even before her application had been approved, she started packing and telling friends she was moving.

Less than a year later, she and her husband Matt were among the first to take up residence in Hamline Station, a two-building development that opened in late 2015 with more than 100 efficiency, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

Now settled into a third-floor apartment overlooking the station, she warmly receives guests and talks proudly about her new apartment, which she describes as “heaven sent.” She also talks glowingly about the Green Line – a lifeline for her and her husband, neither of whom drive.

“It’s like my own personal limo, right outside the door,” Hill said of the Green Line, which she regularly uses to run errands, get to appointments and travel to church.

Hill wasn’t the only one drawn to the combination of affordable, quality housing and transit access. More than 600 applications were received before Hamline Station opened and now, just months after opening, all of the apartments are occupied.

“There’s a strong demand for affordable housing in general, and even more so when it’s in a great location,” said Rick Dahlmeyer, a project manager with Project for Pride in Living.

Project for Pride in Living, or PPL, provides affordable housing and employment readiness. The Minneapolis-based non-profit led the effort to build the apartments on what had been a vacated auto dealership in the northeast corner of University and Hamline avenues.

Residents at Hamline Station earn 50 to 60 percent of the median income; 14 units have been reserved for individuals or families that recently experienced homelessness and are receiving support from two local service providers, Guild Incorporated and Clare Housing.

Support for the $28 million project came from the federal, state and local levels. The Metropolitan Council provided nearly $3.5 million in grant funds to help with site clean-up and land acquisition. U.S. Bank helped raise capital by investing in low-income housing tax credits.                       

Kent Carlson, who owned the property, made the land available for redevelopment and retains ownership of ground-floor retail space that will become home to several businesses.

While the arrangements were complex, Dahlmeyer said the end product is something residents, PPL and all of its partners can be proud of. And it’s not just the fact that it’s the largest project the Minneapolis-based non-profit has taken from start to finish.

With transit and a mix of stores, restaurants and other services nearby it is entirely possible for residents like Hill to forego owning a vehicle. Many of the development’s 50 underground parking spaces have been left unclaimed.

“This is really our flagship TOD (transit-oriented development) project,” Dahlmeyer said.

With its success on University Avenue, PPL hopes to build more affordable housing in Hopkins, near the site of a station on the proposed Green Line Extension. The Council and its partners are also working to advance more affordable housing along the Green Line corridor and other transitways.

Hill considers herself extremely fortunate and hopes those efforts provide others the same opportunity she’s had at Hamline Station. “This has been such a blessing for me and my husband, I just can’t believe it,” she said.

    > Learn more about Metro Transit's Transit Oriented Development office

    > Learn more about Council grants

    > Development along Green Line soars to more than $4 billion 

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

Community Safety Transit Police

Mitchell named MTPD Officer of the Year 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, April 05, 2016 10:58:00 AM

Chief John Harrington has talked a lot about community policing since taking the helm at the Metro Transit Police Department.

Officer Leonard Mitchell has taken it to heart. And for that, he was recognized as Metro Transit’s 2015 Officer of the Year. The award was presented at the department’s annual awards ceremony on March 31.

“From the day I was sworn in, the Chief has preached about community policing and that’s what I’ve tried to live up to,” Mitchell said after the ceremony. “Treat people with respect – that’s all I do and it’s working for me.”

Mitchell joined the Metro Transit Police Department in July 2013. He’s worked along the METRO Green Line corridor, in downtown St. Paul and was one of the first officers to work a new beat on St. Paul’s East Side. Mitchell is now a patrol officer in Minneapolis.

Harrington said several community leaders had contacted him about Mitchell’s efforts, describing him as one of the most visible and respected officers they’d encountered in recent years.

“This is exactly the kind of cop we want – someone who is committed to service and protection,” Harrington said.   

A graduate of Hibbing Community College, Mitchell is a member of the National Black Police Association and served on Metro Transit’s committee on the President’s Report on 21st Century Policing (the report provides recommendations for how law enforcement can better engage with the community). He is also active in the development of a new program that will pair teenagers with Metro Transit officers.

Mitchell was one of several officers recognized at the annual awards.

    > Officer Santiago Rodriguez received the Timothy Bowe Memorial Award, presented annually to a part-time officer who displays exceptional professionalism and dedication. Rodriguez is a 14-year veteran of the St. Paul Police Department and has worked with Metro Transit since 2013.

    > Officer James Menter received a Life Saving Award for assisting paramedics responding to a male who suffered cardiac arrest on a light-rail vehicle in St. Paul.

    > Beverly Cayetano, Linda Meyer, Diana White, Dana Jabs and Elaine Warren were recognized for organizing the department’s criminal database. By standardizing the department’s record-keeping system and entering 7,000 backlogged cases, the department complies with FBI standards and can more easily track the type and frequency of crimes.

In addition to these awards, 16 certificates of appreciation 11 medals of commendation and 33 medals of merit were presented.

Officers received these honors for a variety of actions, including safely apprehending suspects with weapons, identifying and arresting a suspect involved in an operator assault and protecting a woman at risk of being trampled in downtown Minneapolis. Praise was also given to an officer who saw a child with a broken bike and purchased him a new one using his own money.

Officers who conducted the most fare checks, spent the most time on-board buses and trains and made the highest-number of arrests were also honored at the event.

“What these awards represent is not just the work of individual officers, but an entire organization that goes out every day and does really, truly outstanding work,” Harrington said.

Bus Community METRO Blue Line Shelters

In S. Minneapolis, new shelter ‘shines like a beacon’ 

| Tuesday, November 24, 2015 9:52:00 AM

Ann Erickson, owner of Keen Eye Coffee, Doris Overby, a neighborhood block leader, and Francy Scurato, also a neighborhood block leader, with the shelter they adopted at the corner of East 38th Street and South 28th Avenue. After years of campaigning, Standish-Ericsson resident Francy Scurato finally got her wish.

Earlier this year, Metro Transit removed a rusting, privately-owned shelter at the corner of East 38th Street and South 28th Avenue and put in its place a new agency-standard shelter with a bench, lighting and transit information.

On a recent morning, Scurato and others who advocated for the new shelter celebrated that victory and watched as a sign noting its adoption was centered and fastened into place. The sign includes the names of Hiawatha Square, a nearby condo, and Keen Eye Coffee, which is located just across the street.

By adopting the shelter through Metro Transit’s Adopt-A-Shelter program, Scurato, Keen Eye Coffee owner Ann Erickson and others agree to keep an eye on the site and to alert staff if any issues arise.

"Adopters are a great resource for our Facilities team, which has to cover a lot of ground," said Bill Hultberg, who manages the Adopt-A-Shelter program for Metro Transit. "We really appreciate their efforts and are happy to partner with them wherever we can."

If Scurato has noticed anything since the new shelter was installed, though, it’s that the shelter has become an invitation to take transit.

“Before, I think people were hesitant to use the shelter,” Scurato said after the sign was put into place. “Now it shines like a beacon and lights up the whole intersection. I’ve seen a lot of people using it.”

In 2014, Metro Transit took responsibility for shelters in Minneapolis that had been privately owned and operated. All such shelters will be replaced with Metro Transit shelters in the coming years. Shelters will also be placed at some locations where none had previously existed through the Better Bus Stops Program.

After giving up driving a few years ago, Scurato frequently finds herself standing in the shelter while waiting for the bus. Students at Roosevelt High School, neighbors and people visiting Keen Eye and other nearby businesses also use the stop, which is served by routes 22 and 23.

“A lot of our customers take transit, so it was kind of a no-brainer to be a part of it (adopting the shelter),” said Erickson, who opened her coffee shop two years ago.

Erickson, Scurato and others are hoping the shelter will lead to further improvements. The goal is to make the few blocks between the shelter and the METRO Blue Line’s 38th Street Station more inviting so people will be encouraged to hop off the train and explore the neighborhood.

“If you want people to come to the businesses on this street, you have to make it look nice,” Scurato said. “You can’t have dark streets and a beat-up shelter. This is a jumping little corner of town and with improvements like this we can make it even more so.”


 

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