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Posts in Category: METRO Blue Line

Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line

Single-day LRT ridership tops 100K for first time 

| Monday, September 21, 2015 2:29:00 PM

Single-day ridership on the METRO Green and Blue lines recently topped 100,000 for the first time ever.

The milestone came on Thursday, Sept. 3, when there were a combined 100,909 light-rail rides. Nearly 64,000 rides were provided on the Green Line that day, while almost 37,000 rides were provided on the Blue Line.

Nearly a quarter of the rides taken were attributed to fans traveling to a St. Paul Saints, Minnesota Gophers football or Minnesota Twins game.

Event ridership has been strong on both the Green and Blue lines this year.

Saints fans took an estimated 52,990 Green Line rides to home games at CHS Field this season, an average of 981 rides per game. Through the end of August, Twins fans had taken nearly 512,000 rides, a 14 percent increase over last year.

    > State Fair ridership reaches new high

    > Blue, Green lines top 1 million rides in July

    > East Bank Station tops 1 million boardings


METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line

Blue, Green lines top 1 million rides in July 

| Wednesday, August 19, 2015 1:20:00 PM

More than 1 million rides were taken on both the METRO Blue and Green lines last month, pushing total ridership through the end of July to nearly 49.4 million.

Ridership on all modes — local and express buses, Northstar and light rail  is up nearly 5 percent compared to the first seven months of 2014.

Nearly 1.1 million rides were taken on the METRO Green Line last month — the third time monthly ridership has surpassed the 1 million ride mark since the line opened last June. Last month's average weekday ridership was 37,654, about 20 percent higher than last July.

There have been nearly 6.7 million Green Line rides through the end of July, and nearly 13.2 million rides since service began last year.

The METRO Blue Line also topped 1 million rides in July  the first time ridership has surpassed that mark since August 2011 and just the fifth time it’s done so since the line opened in 2004. Average weekday ridership was 33,859 in July, up nearly 8 percent from last year.

Around 6.1 million Blue Line rides were taken through the end of July, a 12 percent increase over last year. Just a decade after service began, the Blue Line surpassed 100 million total rides in December 2014.

In 2014, Metro Transit provided 84.5 million rides, the highest ridership in more than three decades.

“We’re elated, but not surprised, that residents and visitors continue to enjoy traveling by light rail,” General Manager Brian Lamb said. “We look forward to building on this success and continuing to introduce new riders to all the advantages transit has to offer.”




Light Rail METRO Blue Line

New paint brings new life to light-rail trains 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, June 11, 2015 12:00:00 AM

Brooks Letourneau and Robert Whebbe apply tape before another round of painting on a light-rail vehicle.When light-rail vehicle 113 pulled into Metro Transit’s body shop earlier this spring, it was clear a decade of service had taken its toll.

Scratches and dents were visible up and down each side of the vehicle. Paint was flaking in several spots and, along the bottom, rust was starting to show.

But after a few weeks the train was looking as fresh and clean as it did when it went into service when the METRO Blue Line opened in 2004. To observers, it could even be mistaken for one of the newer Siemens trains that went into service when the METRO Green Line opened.

Such transformations have become a point of pride for the group of electro-mechanic technicians who are working through a refresh of all 27 Bombardier light-rail vehicles, each of which has more than 700,000 miles on their odometers.

More than half of the older Bombardier light-rail vehicles have already been through the body shop and the entire fleet will be restored and repainted by early 2016.

While every light-rail vehicle presents its own unique challenges, the attention to detail remains the same in all cases.

When a light-rail vehicle comes into the body shop, it first goes through a rigorous cleaning. After that, lights and other components are removed and, in some cases, replaced with sturdier equipment that will better withstand another 20 years of all-weather service.

Dents are repaired and scratches are filled before the light-rail vehicle is sanded. When ready to be repainted, the train is moved into a specially-equipped booth, taped and sprayed with layers of yellow, black and blue over the course several days.

The trains are being painted with the same colors and design of the newer Siemens trains, so there is consistency across the fleet.

For Jorge Otanez, one of four electro-mechanic technicians in the body shop, removing the tape at the end of the painting makes all the work that preceded it worthwhile.     

“The personal satisfaction is when you are actually untaping and you can see all the colors meet together,” he said. “You see it and it totally looks like a different train.”

Restoring and re-painting the bodies isn’t just about cosmetics, but about taking pride in the vehicles and giving customers a positive impression when they ride.

“We want our customers to be proud of the vehicles they’re in,” said Chris Royston, Manager of Light Rail Vehicle Overhaul and Special Projects. “They’re a reflection of our service and our organization, so it’s important that they represent us well.”

    > Our vehicles    

    > Light-rail vehicles ready for all seasons 

    > New light-rail vehicles begin service

Good Question METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Ridership

Good Question: How are light-rail rides counted? 

| Wednesday, January 21, 2015 1:25:00 PM

With tens of thousands of customers boarding light-rail trains on the METRO Green and Blue lines every day, it’s reasonable to wonder just how Metro Transit keeps track of all those rides.

The answer: Automatic Passenger Counters, or APCs.

Commonly used by transit agencies to track passenger boardings, APCs rely on advanced, overhead sensors inside the train to measure movements into and out of light-rail cars.  

Metro Transit began installing APC technology on its newest Siemens trains last year and the technology will be on all 59 of these trains by the end of the year. Since some Siemens trains and the older Bombardier trains don’t yet have verified APC technology, numbers from APC-equipped trains are used to estimate total ridership. (The average number of rides counted on an APC-equipped train is multiplied by the average number of cars that ran on each trip for the day, and by the total number of trips on that day.) 

Before Metro Transit used APCs, light rail ridership estimates were based on manual counts. APC technology has evolved since the Blue Line’s opening a decade ago and is more commonly used now because data can be collected more efficiently and is more quickly available.

While APCs are now being used, manual counts will continue to play a role in calculating ridership. Before a train with an APC is used in ridership calculations, its results are compared to manual counts to verify that they are consistent. Testing done by internal auditors in 2014 found the manual and APC counts were virtually identical.

Fare payments are not used to track light-rail ridership because not all valid fare payments are electronically recorded. Many customers – more than 70,000 at the end of 2014 – use pre-paid fare cards like Metropass, College Pass, Student Pass and U-Pass. Though these customers are asked to swipe their cards at fare readers, that doesn’t always happen. Transfer slips that cash-paying customers receive on the bus are also not recorded by ticket validators on light-rail platforms.

Still, the number of non-fare paying customers on light rail remains low. In 2014, Metro Transit police officers conducted more than 1.4 million fare inspections on the Green and Blue Lines and the compliance rate on each line was in excess of 99 percent.

Fare payments are used to track bus ridership, since a customer must pay each time they board (free rides provided to eligible customers or for marketing purposes are manually recorded). Northstar ridership is also based on fare payments, since nearly all customers must make an electronic payment before boarding.

Like the METRO Red Line, future Bus Rapid Transit lines like the A Line and Orange Line will use APCs to count ridership. APCs are used on BRT because these lines will also use off-board fare payment technology.

    > The proof is in the payment                                                                                

    > Good Question: Why offer transfers?

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Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Safety

Light-rail vehicles ready for all seasons 

| Wednesday, November 19, 2014 1:10:00 PM

Electro mechanical technicians Tom Astedt and Chris Kostohris install ice cutters on a light-rail vehicle.Metro Transit’s light-rail vehicles are becoming even more weather-hardened.

Pantographs that are specially-equipped to cut through ice on overhead wires are being installed on all 27 Bombardier light-rail vehicles and 32 of the newer Siemens light-rail vehicles to improve winter weather service on the METRO Blue and Green lines.

Mounted atop each light rail vehicle, pantographs transfer energy from the overhead wires to the train. The connection between the pantograph and the overhead wire, also known as catenary, is made by a long metal strip. To reduce wear on the overhead wire, the carbon strips have a smooth surface. But that smoothness is less effective at cutting through ice so textured, copper strips are used whenever severe weather threatens.

In past seasons, rail vehicle maintenance staff has replaced the strips each time ice was in the forecast. Because that is a labor intensive and time consuming process, trains are being equipped with an additional pantograph with textured contact strips that can be raised and used as needed.

The ability to respond quickly has become more important as Metro Transit’s light rail vehicle fleet has expanded to nearly 90 trains serving two light rail lines.

“We have to be able to deploy them (light-rail vehicles) immediately or you’ll never be able to keep up,” said Rick Carey, assistant director of light-rail vehicle maintenance.

The new pantographs come largely assembled but the brackets used to mount the equipment on top of the train were designed in house and are fabricated by maintenance staff. To install the pantographs, the equipment is hoisted above the train, welded into place and then wired. The entire process can take up to eight hours.

Electro-mechanical technicians Chris Kostohris and Tom Astedt are responsible for assembling the brackets and putting the pantographs on the trains. The installations began in August and will continue through the winter months.

Astedt said he likes the work because each vehicle poses a new challenge. Each train is a little different, so Astedt and Kostohris carefully measure and level each new pantograph to fit the space.

“It could probably be off an inch and no one would know it, but we’d know,” Astedt said while recently installing a pantograph at Metro Transit’s Operations and Maintenance Facility. “We’ve got a work ethic that requires us to make sure everything is straight and true.”

The ice-cutting pantographs aren’t the only all-weather feature on the light-rail trains. Each train comes equipped with a snowplow that pushes snow out of the rail right of way. The trains are also heavily insulated and heated to keep customers comfortable during cold weather.

“Operating in Minnesota winters certainly has its challenges, but we are committed to delivering safe, reliable rail service in all conditions,” Deputy Chief of Rail Operations John Humphrey said. “These new pantographs are just another example of our commitment to serving customers when they need us the most.”

    > Pioneer Press: Nuts and bolts: How the Green Line trains work

    > Track maintainers keep a careful eye on light-rail lines

    > How does Metro Transit prioritize winter storm cleanup?

    > Service during severe winter weather  

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