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Posts in Category: Good Question

Good Question Light Rail

Good question: Why do tracks sometimes crack? 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, February 01, 2019 9:05:00 AM

Light rail vehicles weigh around 100,000 pounds each. So the steel tracks they operate on have to be sturdy and well maintained.

To ensure light rail tracks are in good order, Metro Transit’s track maintainers regularly walk end-to-end looking for small cracks, broken fasteners and other defects that aren't within standards. 

Ultrasonic testing, which detects internal rail defects that can't be seen, is also performed once a year. Train operators routinely report their observations about track conditions as well.

While this type of preventative maintenance helps Metro Transit proactively address repair needs, it can be difficult to prepare for the severest cold Minnesota has to offer.

When temperatures drop to extreme lows, tracks contract and are put under an extreme amount of tension. Under such conditions, tracks can pull apart and need to be repaired.

Amid January’s historic cold, crews repaired four sections of broken rail within just two weeks. Usually, such issues come up a few times a year.

Electronic train detection equipment that helps track the location of light rail vehicles usually signals a break in the rail. The equipment relies on electrical current that can be interrupted by breaks and cracks in the track.

In most cases, cracks are small enough that they do not pose a significant safety risk. In fact, trains can often continue using track areas where cracks have been detected at lower-than-usual speeds.

To fix a broken rail, crews can heat and re-weld the track back together. In some cases, sections of track may be replaced altogether.

When it’s extremely cold out, though, welding is not an option. Instead, crews reconnect separated sections of track by bolting them together with something known as a joint bar.

To minimize service impacts, track repairs are typically made overnight or in conjunction with other maintenance activities that require light rail service to be suspended.

Above: Staff from Metro Transit's Track Department and RailWorks repair a section of track near U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. The crack developed amid some of the coldest temperatures the Twin Cities had seen in decades. 

Learn more about Metro Transit's track inspection efforts

Good Question

What is METRO BRT?  

Posted by John Komarek | Thursday, January 24, 2019 12:33:00 PM

What is METRO BRT?
BRT stands for Bus Rapid Transit. It’s a bus service that provides fast, frequent service that eliminates the need for a schedule. METRO refers to any lines that provide this type of service, including light rail.

METRO already has two BRT Lines in operation, the A Line and Red Line. In 2019, METRO will add the C Line. As part of a study, more BRT Lines are in planning stages or are in construction, like the Orange Line.

How do METRO BRT Lines provide fast, frequent service? 
The hallmark of a METRO service is the ability to pay before boarding and all-day service about every 10-15 minutes.

With ticketing on the platform, METRO BRT Lines eliminate a bottleneck when boarding. Now that there’s no need to pay a fare at the front door, customers can use the back doors to board, too.

A real transit advantage of METRO BRT is that the buses “talk” to traffic lights. As a bus approaches, a traffic light knows to safely change signals to favor the bus route. So, METRO BRT buses have shorter waits during a trip.

BRT Lines also have transit advantages like transit-only ramps and some use High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes during traffic.

What’s different about METRO BRT stations?
METRO BRT stations provide our customers with real-time information, so you’ll always know when the next bus is coming. Some stations also alert our customers when a bus is about to approach by a pulsing light behind our iconic T logo at the station. These stations also have heat, security cameras, and snow removal services.

No farebox on the bus? How do you enforce fares?
Just like METRO light rail lines, customers pay their fare at the station. As part of their duties, police and community service officers perform random ticket checks on board BRT Lines. If you find yourself consistently unable to pay full fares, you may qualify for our Transportation Assistance Program (TAP).

Am I getting METRO BRT in my neighborhood?
Follow BRT Line or METRO Line developments online or attend a community meeting in your neighborhood. We hope to see you at one of them!

Want to try a METRO BRT line?
Ride the A Line or Red Line to experience the advantages of METRO BRT. Or, if you’re patient, join us for the launch of the C Line on June 8, 2019!



Good Question

Route, Trip, or Segment? 

Posted by John Komarek | Monday, November 26, 2018 2:58:00 PM

Transit terminology can at times be difficult to decipher. The terms route, trip and segment are among those that can be confusing. Here's an explanation of how these terms should be used:

Isn’t it just called a trip when I take transit?

Colloquially, a “trip” can mean whenever a rider uses transit to arrive at a destination. This can involve being on a route, trip, and a segment.

What’s the difference and why does it matter?

Each of these terms breaks down our service into a specific unit of measurement we use to describe our service not only to our employees, but also our riders.

When quarterly updates to our service schedules occur, we use these terms to communicate changes.


Duty is an operator’s work shift. Duty can refer to a route or multiple routes, if an operator works more than one in a day.

E.g. Today, Skip Traffic’s duty is driving the A Line in the morning and the Route 33 in the evening.


A Route is the entire service a transit line provides along a corridor throughout the day. This is made up of trips and segments.

E.g. The A Line’s route is from Rosedale Center Station to the 46th Street Station in Minneapolis.



A Trip is the entire list of stop/Station pickups on a route from the start to finish. When looking at a time schedule, it’s all the times listed on one horizontal line.

E.g. The A Line completes a trip is when it travels from Rosedale Center Station to the 46th Street Station in Minneapolis. This trip repeats throughout the day, creating a route.


A Segment is traveling from one stop/station to the next stop/station on a route during a trip.

E.g. The A Line starts at the Rosedale Center Station and arrives at its next nearest station at Snelling & County Road B.



Bus Good Question Light Rail Shelters Winter Weather

Good Question: Why do shelter heaters need to be replaced so frequently ? 

Posted by Marisa Helms | Thursday, November 16, 2017 10:26:00 AM

When the cold weather hits the metro area, customers who wait at hundreds of bus shelters and rail platforms have access to on-demand heaters that allow push-button activation when the temperature drops to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.

The heaters improve the customer's waiting experience, but they are fragile, subject to vandalism, and require constant care and replacement from maintenance staff.

Manager of Facilities Mike Maddio said every winter the 1,500 heat lamps throughout the system must be replaced again and again. This winter is no different, and Maddio estimates replacing the vandalized heaters has cost the agency tens of thousands of dollars over the past few years.

The heaters are made from one or more 12-inch glass tubes, and are targets for vandals, especially in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, Maddio said. Since early October, he said a staff of four electricians have replaced more than 400 heat lamps and are scheduled to replace another 800 in the coming weeks.

"It's daunting," Maddio said. "We fix one heater at 7 a.m. and by 2 p.m. it's destroyed again."

Catching vandals in the act isn't always possible, but, Transit Police Lt. Troy Schmitz said police will pursue criminal charges if they're are able to obtain video of the vandalism and identify suspects.

Bus Good Question Light Rail Northstar Rider Information Suburban Transit

Good Question: Why is service reduced on certain dates? 

| Wednesday, July 01, 2015 10:56:00 AM

Customers board Route 767 at the Bottineau Blvd & 63rd Avenue Park & Ride.On dates when fewer customers are expected to ride transit, service is reduced on some bus routes, as well as light rail and Northstar.

These “Reduced Service” days are typically observed holidays when many major employers are closed. Most of the service reductions are on routes used by commuters traveling to downtown Minneapolis, St. Paul or the University of Minnesota.

Unless otherwise noted, light-rail, express and local bus routes operate according to Saturday schedules on Reduced Service dates. (Routes with no service on Saturdays may operate on a limited schedule.) 

In practice, that means there are usually about 20 percent fewer local bus trips and about one-third the number of express bus trips. Light-rail service is reduced less than 10 percent.

Several morning and afternoon Northstar trips are also eliminated on Reduced Service dates, since around 93 percent of those who use the commuter rail line are traveling to work or school.

Metro Transit considers historic ridership patterns when deciding whether and when to reduce service. When there was an observed holiday on Monday, July 5, 2010, ridership decreased about 60 percent compared to the rest of the weekdays that week. Service on that date was reduced by around a third. 

Service is also reduced on holidays to reflect lower demand.

Reducing service on these lower-demand days provides cost-savings that can be re-directed to other needs.

Even if service is reduced customers can continue to use NexTrip, which provides predicted real-time departure information using GPS data from in-service buses. The Transit Information Center is also open.

Reduced and Holiday service schedules are available on and are also published in Connect, the on-board newsletter.

Service adjustments may be made based on customer feedback. Customers with specific concerns are urged to Contact Us

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