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Bus Rapid Transit Minneapolis

Input sought on North Minneapolis BRT plans 

| Monday, November 16, 2015 8:52:00 AM

A draft station plan for the C Line.Residents are invited to provide feedback on plans for a new arterial Bus Rapid Transit Line that will serve North Minneapolis at a series of November open houses.

Like the A Line on Snelling Avenue​, the C Line will improve on local bus service through a combination of enhanced stations, larger buses and faster, more frequent service.

The C Line will follow the Route 19 alignment between downtown Minneapolis and the Brooklyn Center Transit Center, with service on Penn Avenue and Olson Memorial Highway. In downtown Minneapolis, the C Line will operate on 7th and 8th streets. 

A Draft Station Plan, published last week, provides more details on 24 locations where BRT stations are planned. The public can learn more about those station plans at the open house and provide comments through Dec. 6.

Feedback will be incorporated before plans are finalized and more detailed engineering work begins in 2016. With funding, construction will begin in 2017.

C Line open houses will be held according to the following schedule:

    > Tuesday, Nov. 17 — 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Minneapolis Central Library, and 6-8 p.m. at Patrick Henry High School 

    > Wednesday, Nov. 18 — 6-8 p.m. at Harrison Education Center 

    > Thursday, Nov. 19 — 6-8 p.m. at Lucy Laney Community School 

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    > C Line Station Plan

    > C Line Fact Sheet

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Bus Bus Rapid Transit Good Question

Good Question: How are the back doors on buses controlled? 

| Wednesday, May 06, 2015 12:00:00 AM

In most cases, Metro Transit encourages bus passengers to exit through the rear door so boarding customers can get on quickly. But customers who use the rear exit often wonder why the doors don’t always immediately open.

For safety reasons, the rear doors are locked when a bus is in motion. Keeping the doors locked also prevents them from being unnecessarily opened at bus stops where no one is exiting, which helps control the interior temperature on the bus. (Doors on light-rail trains are kept shut until a customer presses the open button for the same reason.)

At bus stops, operators are instructed to open the front door and to unlock the rear exits. 

When unlocked, customers using the back exit can open the doors by placing their hands on or near the "touch here" stickers. On newer buses, the doors will automatically open when motion is detected -- the doors do not need to be physically pushed. Older buses use an air-pressure system that is engaged when a customer presses on the door handles.

If the rear door does not open right away, customers are encouraged to say “back door” loud enough for the operator to hear. This can happen because it is sometimes difficult for operators to see customers who want to exit on a full bus.   

On the METRO Red Line and in the future on the METRO Orange Line customers can board and exit at either the front or the back of the bus. Customers can use either door on these Bus Rapid Transit routes because the buses have fare card readers in both locations.

Note: Certain express routes are designated as Pay Exit. On Pay Exit routes, customers board but do not pay until they exit at the end of the route. To pay their fares, customers on these routes exit out the front door. 

    > Good Question: Why go out the back?

Bus Bus Rapid Transit Community Safety Transit Police

Transit Police going beyond the bus in North Minneapolis 

| Tuesday, February 10, 2015 9:22:00 AM

Metro Transit police officers David Hutchinson and Sidney Jones talk with Dean Rose, who owns Broadway Liqour Store at the corner of Broadway and Penn avenues.Metro Transit patrol officer Sidney Jones didn’t grow up in North Minneapolis. But when he moved here from Kansas City a decade ago he landed squarely in the middle of the community, making his home on Russell Avenue North. 

After experiencing the neighborhood first-hand, Jones jumped at the chance to become a part of Transit Police’s new Northside Community Policing Team.

“I grew up in the inner-city, so I wanted to be able to come back and interact with my community and to be a positive person for some of the youth,” Jones said during a recent afternoon patrol.  “I wanted to be somebody they could look up to and to do the job fairly and respectfully.”

Jones has done that and more since he and fellow patrol officer David Hutchinson began working as the department’s first members of the Northside Community Policing Team last fall. The team is responsible for patrolling a swath of North Minneapolis that runs roughly from Penn to Lyndale avenues and from Olson Memorial Highway to Dowling Avenue North.

While the officers respond to calls, ride on board buses and keep an eye on major boarding areas, one of their biggest areas of focus has been simply interacting with members of the community. Since the Northside Community Policing Team was formed, Jones and Hutchinson have spent time playing dominoes with kids at Juxtaposition, attending community meetings and getting to know business owners.

Hutchinson said the interactions have already started to change the perception of Transit Police.

“People used to think we just rode buses and checked tickets on the train,” the eight-year Transit Police officer said. “It was a surprise when we came into businesses, introduced ourselves and tried to gain a relationship with them.”

Among the business owners Jones and Hutchinson have come to know is Sam Tannos, who owns a convenience store at the corner of Penn and 26th avenues. Tannos has been at the location for six years and said having a strong police presence is critical to his business.

“We love their presence here,” Tannos said during a visit to the store. “It’s a very good idea to have them stop by and see what’s going on.”

Down the street, Dean Rose is also enthusiastic about having Transit Police become a fixture in the community.

Rose’s Broadway Liqour Store was destroyed by the 2011 tornado, forcing the store into a temporary space at the corner of Broadway and Penn avenues. A third-generation North Minneapolis business owner, Rose will break ground next year on a new mixed-use project across the street.

The plan is to incorporate a new station for the C Line Bus Rapid Transit project into the development, so Rose hopes Transit Police will continue working with him on security issues. Many people in the neighborhood use transit, Rose said, and it’s important for the businesses that will be in the building that people feel comfortable riding or standing at a bus stop.

“I think it’s important for the community to see there’s law enforcement out there,” he said. “Having these guys on the street in a visible fashion will really assist us in keeping the peace.”

Establishing such trusting relationships is the entire idea behind the beat policing model. Transit Police have established beats along the Central Corridor and in each downtowns for the same reason.

Jones said he hopes he and Hutchinson are doing now will lay a foundation for future collaboration between Metro Transit and Minneapolis police, business owners, transit customers, bus operators and others in North Minneapolis.

“The more you’re in the area, the more hopefully the community will be comfortable with those officers and coming forward to talk to them,” he said. “I really think we’re breaking ground with this new beat.”

    > Fox 9: Metro Transit Northside Beat fosters community connections

Bus Bus Rapid Transit Express Bus METRO Orange Line Minneapolis Suburban Transit Transit Planning

METRO Orange Line more than the sum of its parts 

| Monday, May 19, 2014 12:00:00 AM

From Christina Morrison, METRO Orange Line Project Manager

Bus Rapid Transit is not a new concept for Interstate 35W. In fact, several improvements have been made to set the table for BRT, including bus-only shoulders, the 46th Street Station, MnPASS lanes and the downtown transit corridor known as Marq2.

This infrastructure was built even though the larger BRT project, the METRO Orange Line, was not fully funded. That's one great thing about BRT – it's nimble and can be built in pieces. The Orange Line combines all the station, roadway and service improvements that we’ve been building in pieces for decades to complete the BRT picture on I-35W.

Beginning in 2019, the Orange Line will deliver frequent, all-day service to job, housing and retail centers in Minneapolis, Richfield, Bloomington and Burnsville while relieving congestion on one of the state's busiest roadways. This enhanced transit service will not only serve those traveling downtown but reverse commuters accessing more than 30,000 jobs, as well as services, education and other destinations outside the downtown core.

We know the demand for transit in the I-35W corridor is strong and will continue to grow. In 2012, express and local bus routes in the I-35W corridor attracted nearly 14,000 daily transit riders. Ridership on the limited-stop bus service the Orange Line would replace, Route 535, has increased by more than 15 percent since 2011, topping more than 430,000 rides in 2013.

Existing customers ask why we don't simply put more buses on Route 535, and that’s a good question. While more buses could provide a short-term benefit, investing in the Orange Line strengthens our regional transit network while providing several key long-term benefits:

> Better station infrastructure. Like other METRO lines, Orange Line stations will be more comfortable and accessible -- with on-demand heat, ticket machines, enhanced transit information (including real-time, NexTrip signs) and security features. These stations will not only serve the Orange Line but complementary local and express routes, making transfers easier and more efficient. At the border of Richfield and Bloomington, Orange Line stations on Knox Avenue are also being incorporated into redevelopment plans that will create a more transit-, pedestrian- and bike-friendly environment.

> Reduced travel times. A complete trip on the Orange Line will take around 35 to 40 minutes, one way. Travel times are reduced by allowing customers to pay their fares before boarding and using 60-foot buses with front, middle and rear entries. A new southbound lane exclusively for transit vehicles and carpoolers from 42nd Street to downtown Minneapolis, traffic signal technologies and a new underpass bringing Knox Avenue beneath I-494 will also make for a speedier trip.

> Improved level of service. Route 535 will do the work of multiple local and express routes. The Orange Line will operate on a simpler routing that is more user-friendly, predictable and reliable. Each streamlined trip saves operating dollars that can be reinvested into additional service on the Orange Line and connecting routes in the corridor.

These benefits are explained in greater detail in the recently released draft of the Orange Line Project Plan Update. The update summarizes work that has been done to date and provides an outline of the steps that need to be taken to begin construction.

I encourage you to read through this plan and offer your feedback. Public comments will be accepted through the end of May and incorporated before the Metropolitan Council considers the project later this year.

Your feedback is important to refining plans as we look forward to construction beginning in 2016 and opening the Orange Line for service in late 2019. Please share your input and help us make the Orange Line a success.

For continued updates, subscribe to the Orange Line Project Update newsletter. You can also join the conversation on Twitter (@MetroTransitMN) as we host a "Tweet Chat" about the Orange Line between noon and 1 p.m. on Tuesday, May 20.

    > METRO Orange Line

    > Draft Project Plan Update

    > METRO Orange Line FAQs

    > I-35W Transit/Access Project

Bus Bus Rapid Transit METRO Green Line Minneapolis Route of the Week St. Paul University of Minnesota

Route 50: Limited stops for longer rides 

| Friday, December 06, 2013 2:28:00 PM

When the snow fell on Wednesday, it took Brandon Vanhee more than an hour to make the 15-mile trek from his home in Otsego to Maple Grove’s Parkway Transit Station. The rest of his journey to the University of Minnesota wasn’t nearly as difficult.

After riding express Route 785 to downtown Minneapolis, Vanhee caught a Route 50 bus that took him across the Washington Avenue Bridge to Jones Hall, a longer but much more efficient leg of his morning commute.

“It took way less time for me to go a lot further after I caught the bus,” Vanhee said as he traveled to campus on Wednesday, again on Route 50.

Such convenience was among the many reasons customers say they ride Route 50, which runs between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul, serving the U of M and a nearly seven-mile stretch of University Avenue. Customers riding this week also said they used the bus to avoid paying for gas and parking, which comes at a premium on campus and in both downtowns.

“I’m reminded of that (the savings) every time I fill up,” said Jessica Mattson, who has used the Route 50 to get from downtown Minneapolis to the U of M nearly every day for the last six years.

Customers traveling longer distances between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul also gravitate to Route 50 because it is a speedier alternative to Route 16, which travels an identical path but makes nearly twice as many stops along the way. An end-to-end trip on Route 50 takes approximately 50 minutes, compared to an hour on Route 16.

Donny Crow, who lives on St. Paul’s east side, said that efficiency is why he prefers taking Route 50 when the option is available to him. Crow takes Route 64 downtown where he catches Route 50 to get to his job near the intersection of University Avenue and Oxford Street.

“I try to take the 50 as much as I can,” Crow said. “It stops at all the intersections I need and seems to get there a little quicker.”

The idea of a faster trip on University Avenue began around 1920, when limited-stop bus service was introduced to compete with streetcars on the corridor. The service was eliminated when buses began using Interstate 94 in the 1970s but returned in 1998 with the introduction of Route 50.

Route 50 buses initially ran every half hour but today run as much as every nine minutes during rush hour, matching Route 16’s frequency.

After 15 years in service, Route 50 will be replaced in 2014 by the METRO Green Line, which will travel a similar path as the 16 and the 50. The train is replacing Route 50 because it will serve many of the same destinations as Route 50 with better travel times and much greater capacity.

John Levin, director of service development for Metro Transit, helped create Route 50 and said its departure is bittersweet.

The Green Line will bring all day, high-frequency service to the corridor while planners turn their attention to the next iteration of limited stop service – Arterial Bus Rapid Transit. The Arterial BRT concept aims to bring quicker, limited-stop bus service to up to 12 corridors, beginning with the A Line on Snelling Avenue in 2015.

“Having been part of the creation of Route 50, I am sad to see it go,” said Levin, Metro Transit’s director of service development. “But I am also very excited that with plans for up to 12 BRT lines in existing transit corridors, the concept of high-quality, limited-stop service is not going away and, in fact, is getting much bigger.”

Before it is replaced next year, Route 50 will be among several routes that return in December to Washington Avenue, on the U of M campus. Buses have been detoured because of Green Line construction but will now use the Washington Avenue Transit/Pedestrian Mall between Pleasant and Walnut streets.

Thuylinh Vuong, a first-year student at the U of M, is among those who are happy to see Route 50 and other transit service to the more centrally-located Washington Avenue.

“It will be nice to have it back on Washington because that’s where I spend the majority of my time,” Vuong said.

Route 50 At a Glance

Type: Urban Local

Service: From Minneapolis, Route 50 runs east from the Ramp B/5th Street Transit Center to the University of Minnesota, University Avenue and downtown St. Paul. Route 50 buses run from approximately 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, with service as much as every nine minutes during rush hour. In the late morning and early afternoon, service is more limited with trips running primarily between downtown Minneapolis and the U of M. Route 50 follows the same path as Route 16 but offers limited-stop service between the U of M and downtown St. Paul. With nearly half as many stops, the end-to-end travel time on Route 50 is reduced to approximately 50 minutes, compared to an hour on Route 16.

Route Length: Approximately 11 miles

Stops: 32 eastbound, 36 westbound

Vehicles: Standard 40-foot and 60-foot articulated ("accordion") buses

Ridership: Route 50 saw nearly 1.3 million customer boardings in 2012, with an average of around 5,000 customer boardings per day.Combined, routes 16 and 50 account for about 10 percent of all rides on Metro Transit's urban bus service.

History:  Streetcars ran on University Avenue between 1890 and 1953, when they were replaced with buses. Route 50 service dates back to about 1920, when the first limited-stop buses began running on University Avenue, competing with streetcars. Twin City Rapid Transit bought out the competition in mid-1920s and continued to run the service until the 1970s, amid the advent of express service between St. Paul and Minneapolis on Interstate 94. Limited-stop service on University Avenue returned in June 1998 with the creation of Route 50. Service was initially offered every half hour but was quickly expanded to every 12 minutes.                                                                                                                          

Future: Route 50 is among the routes that will use the Washington Avenue Transit/Pedestrian Mall beginning December 2013. Route 50 will be replaced by the METRO Green Line when it opens in 2014. Route 16 buses will continue to operate every 20 minutes between downtown St. Paul and TCF Bank Stadium.

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