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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!

Equity Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line

Technicians in training celebrate early milestone in career path 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Monday, August 21, 2017 3:28:00 PM

Participants in the Metro Transit Technician training program were recognized at a completion ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 17, in Minneapolis.Chapman Templer was working at a local bike shop, unsure when or if he’d ever get promoted or earn more money. After two years at Tires Plus, Chee Vang was struggling to pinpoint his long-term goals. Jordan “Monk” Nicholson was writing comic books and looking for a full-time job after recently moving from Ohio to the Twin Cities.

They and a dozen other job seekers who entered the Metro Transit Technician training program last fall now have a much better idea of what their futures could hold. 

The second group to enter the industry-first job training program was celebrated last week at the Blue Line’s Operations & Maintenance Facility, where participants had spent the past several months studying electrical theory and learning from the Electro Mechanic Technicians they aspire to someday work beside.

That experience was accompanied by tutoring and empowerment training with instructors at Twin Cities RISE!, a Minneapolis-based non-profit that helps individuals overcome barriers to employment. 

Last week’s ceremony came at an early crossroads for the participants: on Monday, they began full-time, paid Metro Transit internships and classes at Hennepin Technical College, which has developed a new degree program centered around Rail Maintenance.

While lots of hard work remains, supporters said the confidence and skills the participants had already built needed to be recognized.

“I know this is just the beginning, but today definitely deserves to be celebrated,” said Vang, who spoke in front of around 100 friends, family and Metro Transit staff gathered at the event. “What we’ve learned is to celebrate all of the small victories.”

This is the second group to enter the training program, developed by Metro Transit in partnership with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, Hennepin Technical College and Twin Cities RISE!

Participants from the first group are now entering their second year in college while interning in service garages and preparing to apply for full-time roles in Bus Maintenance. Applications for a third round of the program, again focused on Bus Maintenance, will be accepted later this year.

For participants like Vang, the goal is to land a career that promises stability, good benefits and opportunities to advance. For Metro Transit, the hope is to rejuvenate the ranks of technicians in bus and rail maintenance amid retirements and system growth.

Metro Transit will need to nearly double the number of technicians maintaining light-rail vehicles, signals, and systems to support planned extensions of the Green and Blue lines set to open in the years ahead. At the same time, around half of current technicians are above the age of 50 and beginning to approach retirement age. 

“We’re very excited now to be growing our own technicians,” Chief Operating Officer Vince Pellegrin said.

The program also supports Metro Transit's ongoing efforts to build diversity and provide access to opportunity.

Included in the most-recent group of participants was Ashley Williamson, who is on a path to becoming the first African American female to work in Rail Maintenance at Metro Transit.

“This is a major accomplishment to be able to inspire the next generation of people who are like me,” she said.

Electro Mechanic Technicians Resha Petit and Ben Engen said learning about participants’ histories is part of what made mentoring them so interesting and rewarding. They also appreciated the eagerness the participants showed throughout the 120 hours they spent working in the shop and studying with instructors.

“From day one, they came in here with a positive attitude,” Engen said. “It really made me look forward to coming to work on those days.”

Metro Transit light rail technician program

Participants in the Metro Transit Technician training program celebrated last week include, from left to right, front row: Calvin Hill, Allan Vang, Annette Kavanaugh, Chee Vang, Christopher Dudzinski, Thao Xiong, Toua Yang. Back row: Ronald “RJ” Abellard, Caitlin Wagner, Chapman Templer, Tenzin Kunga, Terence Ealy, Ashley Williamson, Jaime Trujillo, Jordan “Monk” Nicholson.

   > We're hiring! Learn more about career opportunities at Metro Transit

METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line

Preserving public art adorning transit stations 

Metro Transit has one of the largest collections of public art in the state
Posted by Kathy Graul | Friday, July 28, 2017 10:05:00 AM

Conservators are hard at work repairing and cleaning the public art along Metro Transit’s rail lines and transit shelters. With more than 70 pieces of art, the agency owns one of the largest collections in the state.​Because it’s so dispersed – and in some cases cleverly disguised – it’s difficult to appreciate how pervasive public art is across the transit system.

But with more than 70 distinct pieces, Metro Transit is the caretaker of one of the largest collections of public art in the state.

Stations along the Green and Blue lines each have unique art that reflects their surroundings. Artwork can also be found on the Northstar Commuter Rail Line as well as several bus stops, like the flowerpot shelter in North Minneapolis.

“The program aims to inspire discovery in otherwise predictable spaces, improving the rider experience and making it more pleasant,” Public Art Administrator Mark Granlund said.

Like any other part of the transit system, art needs to be maintained as time, weather and humans take their collective toll.

Granlund joined Metro Transit last year to take stock of the needs, begin a campaign to make necessary repairs and plan for future maintenance. Before coming to Metro Transit, he performed similar work for the City of St. Paul’s Parks & Recreation Department.

Restoration is getting underway in earnest this year.

Among the first signs was the recent appearance of professional conservators at the Blue Line’s 50th Street/Minnehaha Park Station, where oak leaves, vines and animals are reflected in metal fencing, bronze carvings and screened glass. Conservators began by cleaning the metal and removing grafitti. 

“There is glass, bronze, and metal, and they all need reactive and proactive maintenance,” Granlund said.

Later this summer, 52 painted steel pieces that adorn a decorative steel fence at the Blue Line’s Cedar-Riverside Station will be disassembled, cleaned, repaineted and put back together. There are also plans to fix the small boxes that feature on-demand audio and video recordings, found at several Blue Line stations.

Facilities staff regularly clean stations and remove grafitti. But conservators have been brought in because they have expertise working with particular materials. The goal is to bring the art back as close to its original condition as possible while preserving the artist’s intent.

Because it’s just a few years old, artwork at Green Line stations is in relatively good shape and not yet in need of significant restoration. After learning lessons on the Blue Line, Green Line artwork was also designed to be more durable.

Getting the collection back in shape will be an exhaustive process, but Granlund said it’s well worth the time and energy.

“It’s definitely a major project, but in the end, taking care of the art is what we are entrusted with,” he said.

 > Blue Line Public Art

 > Green Line Public Art

 > Transit Usage Guidelines (including public art proposals)

In the News METRO Blue Line

Northern Spark brings virtual reality experience to Green Line 

Posted by jennasbennett | Friday, June 09, 2017 2:24:00 PM

With events spread throughout the Green Line corridor, light rail will play a major role in this year’s Northern Sparks arts festival.

That’s especially true for CHAOS ON THE GREEN LINE, one of 70 public art pieces that will be featured during the all-night festival that begins on Saturday, June 10, and continues through sunrise the following morning. 

CHAOS ON THE GREEN LINE invites participants to don a virtual reality cardboard viewer while riding between Snelling Avenue and Lexington Parkway. It is believed to be the world’s first virtual reality experience using public transit.

“As the train rolls by, the world as you know it will fall away from view and be replaced by a whole new world we’ve created – one affected by climate change,” said Todd Boss, executive and artistic director at Motionpoems.

Boss created the experience with help from dozens of animators and creatives from local agencies like Pixel Farm, Manufacture, Egg Creative and Fallon Worldwide.

The GPS-activated visuals reflect Northern Spark’s “Climate Chaos, People Rising” theme, which encourages people to a radically climate-altered world and actions they can take to reduce their environmental impact. 

Boss said the experience is more poetic than blunt, but that he hopes the impact will still be plenty powerful. “I don’t know that it will change people’s minds but I do think it will touch them and stir a lot of emotions and thoughts the way good art should,” he said.

Story circles, group weaving, a film festival and a night market in the Little Mekong cultural district are among the many other planned activities. Activities will be focused around several Green Line station areas, including the U.S. Bank Stadium, West Bank, East Bank, Snelling Avenue, Lexington Parkway, Western Avenue and Union Depot stations.

A light rail train that was wrapped in custom-designed artwork promoting the event will also be in service throughout the evening.

Eventgoers can ride free on all buses and trains during the event using a downloadable pass available on the event website. Green Line trains will run at least every 30 minutes throughout the evening. 

To learn more about Northern Spark or download a free ride pass, visit 2017.northernspark.org.

METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Ridership

Monday Night Football helps set new single-day light rail ridership record 

| Thursday, October 13, 2016 2:40:00 PM

Fans exit Metro Transit's light rail at U.S. Bank Stadium Station in Minneapolis.A dose of Monday Night Football helped set a new single-day light rail ridership record on Monday, Oct. 3.

There were a combined 122,529 rides on the METRO Green and Blue lines on that day, surpassing the previous single-day light-rail ridership record of 117,063 rides set on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016.

The Oct. 3 total includes 66,018 Green Line rides – also a single-day record – and another 56,511 Blue Line rides.

Ridership got a boost on Sept. 1 from fans traveling to Twins, Vikings, Gophers and Saints games. On Oct. 3, the Vikings played the New York Giants at the new U.S. Bank Stadium.

Around a quarter of Vikings fans are taking light rail to games this season.

The Green Line is finding success outside of special events, too.

Average weekday ridership in September was 46,109, the highest monthly average since the Green Line opened in June 2014. The average weekday projection for 2030 was 41,000 rides on the Green Line. 

There were just over 1.2 million Green Line rides in September, the third highest monthly total since service began (there were 1.3 million rides in October 2015 and 1.25 million rides in September 2015).

There have been 9.4 million Green Line rides through the end of September, up almost 5 percent compared to the same time last year. 

Learn more about service to U.S. Bank Stadium at metrotransit.org/vikings.

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