Skip to main content For screen readers, our previous mobile pages might be more easily navigated while we continue to improve the accessibility of our website.

 

Posts in Category: METRO Blue Line

From the GM METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line

Decade later, Blue Line is booming 

| Thursday, June 26, 2014 5:00:00 AM

From General Manager Brian Lamb

When the METRO Blue Line opened a decade ago, residents hadn’t moved around the Twin Cities on rail since buses replaced streetcars five decades earlier. People weren’t sure what to make of the new light-rail service and expectations were modest. In fact, critics called it the “train to nowhere.”

What’s happened in the years since is nothing short of extraordinary.

More than 90.5 million rides have been taken since Blue Line trains began operating between the Warehouse District and Fort Snelling on June 26, 2004. Average weekday ridership continues to exceed 2020 projections by more than 25 percent – a response so strong that we extended platforms and ordered additional light-rail vehicles to begin running longer trains last year. Turns out a lot of people were interested in going “nowhere.”

As the Blue Line reaches its 10th anniversary there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about its future, too.

The opening of the Green Line earlier this month provides a host of new opportunities for passengers on both light-rail lines. With a simple, seamless transfer in downtown Minneapolis, Green Line customers can board a Blue Line train and continue south to the VA, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport or Mall of America. Blue Line customers can continue their trips on the Green Line to the University of Minnesota, University Avenue and downtown St. Paul.

Improved bus service and the additions of the Northstar Commuter Rail Line and METRO Red Line at the north and south ends of the Blue Line have similarly given more people to access light rail, a trend that will only continue as our transit network grows in the years ahead.

As the Blue Line changed the way people get around, development followed suit. More housing, commercial and office space has been built or is under construction at several points along the 12-mile corridor.

Apartments that opened late last year across from the 38th Street Station filled almost as soon as they were made available. In the heart of downtown Minneapolis, apartments are rising immediately adjacent to Nicollet Mall Station. And the North Loop neighborhood around Target Field Station has been transformed from a collection of empty warehouses to a vibrant neighborhood where people live, work and play.

Downtwon East Station on the opening day of the METRO Blue Line.All of this activity bodes well for Twin Cities residents who, now more than ever, want to get around without relying on a vehicle. But the Blue Line isn't just serving those who have made it a part of their daily lives.

Light-rail has also become a strong selling point for groups working to attract more businesses and travelers to our region.

In Bloomington, the Mall of America is expanding, new hotel spaces have been built and the city is pursuing an ambitious plan to create more opportunities for transit-oriented development around Bloomington Central Station. Next month, visitors from around the world will use the Blue and Green lines to travel to and from Target Field for the MLB All-Star Game. In 2018 an even larger group will arrive in the Twin Cities to enjoy the 2018 Super Bowl, an event that would be virtually impossible without transit.

Success breeds success, which is why we can be confident the Green Line will enjoy a similar record of success in its first 10 years of service – and in every decade thereafter. In fact, even before opening day it was clear the Blue Line had put the Green Line in a strong position to succeed.

As our regional transit network continues to grow let us remember that it was the Blue Line that set the table as well as the standard for transit in our region and be thankful for all those who have helped to make it a success.

    > From the GM

    > METRO Blue Line

    > Photos from the Blue Line opening

Bus METRO Blue Line Minneapolis Route of the Week St. Paul

Route 23: A crosstown community on 38th Street 

| Monday, May 05, 2014 12:00:00 AM

When Liz Conway needs to get to the airport, she rolls her suitcase down the block, catches a Route 23 bus and makes her way east to the METRO Blue Line’s 38th Street Station, where she continues south on the train.

“It’s absolutely the easiest way to get there,” Conway said this week after boarding near her south Minneapolis home. “I don’t even remember what it costs to park anymore.”

Conway counts herself as an occasional rider of Route 23 – using it to go to dinner, the movies and other entertainment – but many of those who use the crosstown route say it is a fixture of their daily travels.

Traveling eastbound, Route 23 runs from the Uptown Transit Center on Hennepin Avenue and along East 38th Street towards the Mississippi River. On the east end, branches go to Minnehaha Park and the Veteran’s Home or to Highland Park.

In addition to the Blue Line’s 38th Street Station, the route crosses paths with more than 30 other bus routes and past retail areas, medical centers, schools and libraries in Uptown and Highland Park.

Sandy Saline, of Hopkins, transfers from Route 12 to Route 23 in Uptown to the Minnesota Internship Center, where she teaches math, science and physical education. Beginning last fall, she began using the route to get to the Blue Line, which she takes downtown for paramedic classes.

Saline takes the bus so her son can take the car to school in St. Paul, but doesn't mind letting someone else do the driving since it allows her more time to be productive.

"It's an extra hour and a half of studying I get done every day," Saline said.

Route 23 is also heavily used by students at Roosevelt High School and Wellstone International High School, located two blocks south of East 38th Street.

Abdi Muhumed, a senior at Wellstone, is among those who use Route 23 to get to school . With a Student Pass, he gets unlimited rides on buses and METRO lines and can save up to continue his education next year at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

“I could drive but I like taking the bus better,” Muhumed said. “Right now, when I’m a student, why do I need to spend money on gas?”

Saving money is also important to Tyler Botnen, who has lived car-free since arriving in the Twin Cities three years ago. Botnen, 25, recently moved to Highland Park to take advantage of its strong transit connections and because he knew Route 23 would provide a quick, one-seat ride to work.

Using a Metropass, Botnen pays a flat monthly fee for unlimited bus and train rides and puts the money he saves towards rent, groceries and other living expenses. “Riding the bus gives me one less thing in my budget that I have to think about,” he said.

Carol Lee can relate. Lee has lived in Minneapolis without a car since 1959, relying on buses as her primary way of getting around. Lee takes Route 23 to get groceries at the Uptown Rainbow and to go to church at Sagrado Corazon de Jesus Catholic Church, at East 38th and Pleasant streets.

“I ride the bus all the time,” Lee said. “In fact I can go almost any place I want with a little effort.”

For Lauren Flynn, the decision to begin taking the bus in December was motivated by a desire to reduce her environmental impact. Flynn takes Route 23 to her job in Uptown and also uses Route 21 to get to St. Paul for work.

“Anything I can do to use less fuel and counteract the badness is a good thing,” she said.

Emily Harris, who boarded Route 23 near Minnehaha Park, takes Route 23 and the Blue Line to work in downtown Minneapolis each weekday. Besides the convenience and cost savings, she said she enjoys sharing the ride with neighbors and other regular customers.

“Everyone gets to know each other and it feels like a community,” she said.

If anyone would know about the community on Route 23 it is operator Melanie Benson, who has driven Route 23 for the last 15 years and is on a first-name basis with many of its regular riders.

Besides the people, Benson said she appreciates all the services that can be found along the route, including grocery stores, cafes and unique neighborhood hangouts, such as the Riverview Theater.

“Pretty much all of the things you need to sustain life can be found along this route,” she said.

Route 23 At a Glance

Type: Urban local

ServiceRoute 23 runs between the Uptown Transit Center and St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood. Going eastbound, buses go south on Hennepin Avenue South, east on 38th Street, connecting with the METRO Blue Line’s 38th Street Station, and south on 46th Avenue. The ‘C’ branch continues south to the Minnehaha Park and the Veteran’s Home while the ‘H’ branch continues east on Ford Parkway to Kenneth Street.

Route Length: Approximately 8.5 miles

Stops: 62 eastbound, 68 westbound

Vehicles: 40-foot standard diesel buses

Ridership: In 2013, there were a total of 527,817 customer boardings, and an average of 1,446 rides per day

History: In 1926, buses began running on East 38th Street between Bryant Avenue South and 34th Avenue South. The route was later extended east to West River Road, the Minnesota Veteran’s home and Highland Village and west to Uptown. On the west end, buses initially ran to and from Uptown on Bryant Avenue; buses were re-routed to West 36th Street and Hennepin Avenue a decade ago.

Future: Route 23 customers will be able to transfer to the A Line at a new station located at 46th Street and 46th Avenue and stations along Ford Parkway. Opening in 2015, the A Line is a Bus Rapid Transit corridor that will run between the METRO Green Line’s Snelling Avenue Station and the Blue Line’s 46th Street Station with service on Snelling Avenue and Ford Parkway.

Bus Express Bus In the News METRO Blue Line Northstar

Transit ridership hits a 57-year high 

| Tuesday, March 11, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Transit ridership hit a 57-year high last year, according to a new report from the American Public Transportation Association.

Americans took nearly 10.7 billion trips in 2013 according to the industry group. That marked a 1 percent increase from 2012 and was the highest ridership since 1956. It was also the tenth straight year transit ridership topped 10 billion rides nationally.

Metro Transit saw ridership grow for the fifth straight year to 81.4 million rides last year. Ridership on buses, the METRO Blue Line and the Northstar Commuter Rail line increased by 300,000 rides from 2012, reaching the second highest total in 32 years. Ridership on the Northstar Commuter Rail line was especially strong, growing more than 12 percent.

Regional transit ridership grew 0.4 percent to 94.3 million rides in 2013. The number includes ridership from all transit providers in the Twin Cities metro region as well as Metro Mobility, Transit Link and Metro Vanpool.

The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, which operates the METRO Red Line, set a new ridership record year with 2.7 million rides.
 
Since 1995, transit ridership has grown 37 percent nationally, outpacing population growth and vehicle miles traveled, according to APTA. Metro Transit’s ridership grew nearly 7 percent between 2009 and 2013.

“There is a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities,” APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy said in a statement. “People in record numbers are demanding more public transit services and communities are benefiting with strong economic growth.”

    > APTA: Record 10.7 Billion Trips Taken on U.S. Public Transportation in 2013

    > Metro Transit 2013 Ridership Increases to 81.4 Million

    > Star Tribune: Transit use hits historic levels in metro, nationally

    > USA Today: Transit ridership reaches highest level since 1956

    > New York Times: Use of Public Transit in U.S. Reaches Highest Level Since 1956

    > Stateline: Improving Networks and Economy Boost Transit Ridership

Bus Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Rider Information

Just the facts 

| Friday, February 28, 2014 9:59:00 AM

It can be difficult to grasp the scale of Metro Transit's operations.

The picture becomes a bit clearer in a new Fact Book that provides a snapshot of all the services Metro Transit provides. The recently-released 2013 Fact Book covers the big numbers -- 81.4 million rides, 128 bus routes, 74 Park & Rides -- as well as plenty of other lesser-known details. Here are just a couple 2013 facts included in the latest edition:

    > There were 1,498 bus drivers and 78 light-rail operators at the end of 2013.

    > Customer Advocates provided 492 "how to ride" presentations to introduce people to Metro Transit's services in 2013.

    > The Lost & Found received 22,274 unique items and customers claimed nearly a quarter of these items.

    > Real-time NexTrip departure information was requested around 49.2 million times -- a new annual record.

    > Metro Transit's fleet includes 570 40-foot diesel buses, 169 60-foot articulated buses, 132 hybrid-electric buses and 41 coach buses.

The Fact Book also highlights the growth occurring ahead of the METRO Green Line's June 2014 opening.

At the end of last year, 31 new Siemens light-rail vehicles had been received to support operations on the Green and Blue Lines. Additional bus and light-rail operators have also been hired. The total number of vehicle in-service hours -- a measure of how much time buses spend on the road -- also grew to nearly 2.29 million hours, an increase of more than 61,000 hours. The service hours came through improved bus service on routes connecting to the Green Line, a trend that will continue this year.

Explore the numbers in full at metrotransit.org/facts.

Community Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Safety Transit Police

For Transit Police K-9s, all work and a little play 

| Thursday, January 30, 2014 12:00:00 AM

K-9 Handler Alex Johannes tucked a pound of ammonium nitrate into a canister, sealed the lid and spanned the small conference room. Spotting a small cardboard box in the corner, Johannes concealed the canister and exited the room.

Minutes later, he and his trained bomb-sniffing dog Merle walked back through the door. After 30 seconds of scouring, the three-year-old black lab zeroed in on the box and took a seat. His work here was done.

Johannes and Merle are one of four K-9-officer duos at the Metro Transit Police Department. The officers and K-9s spend their days at busy boarding areas as well as light-rail and Northstar trains proactively searching for potential explosives. The unit also works closely with regional partners and during large events such as Twins and Vikings games.

The good news: the dogs haven’t caught a whiff of anything suspect since Metro Transit’s K-9 unit was created in 2007.

“It’s a huge responsibility so our hope is that he (Merle) would respond just the way he did today,” said Johannes, a former TSA agent who joined Transit Police four years ago.

Like the other K-9 handlers, Johannes said he was drawn to the idea of working with a dog because of the special bond that can be developed. The officers spend their entire days with the animals and keep them at home during their off hours.

Johannes has spent the last 14 months with Merle and said he has grown to see him as another member of his family. It helps that the two share a similar enthusiasm for their work.

“They try to match personalities and we’re a pretty good fit,” Johannes said. “Merle and I are both high drive, high energy.”

Officer Joshua Scharber said he and his K-9 partner Rusty, the newest members of the K-9 unit, have also grown close. “I’ve always wanted to be a part of a K9 unit,” Scharber said. “It’s just the bond you create – you can’t find that with a regular officer.”

Like Merle, all of the K-9s regularly test their skills by sniffing for explosive ingredients hidden by their handlers, typically at Metro Transit facilities. Once found, the specially-trained labs are rewarded with a chew toy and affection.

The furry hedgehog and other toys at officers’ disposal seem to offer more than enough motivation.

“When I say ‘Are you ready to go to work,’ he’s already in the car,” said Steve Schoephoerster, the longest tenured member of the K-9 unit.

While the K-9 unit hasn’t uncovered any active threats, they’ve responded to several unattended or suspicious packages. The unit works hand-in-hand with area bomb squads, which are equipped to disable bombs if anything is found.

While the risk is low, K-9 officer Scott Tinucci said the unit plays an important role in deterring activity simply by being out in the field and remaining visible. And if anything ever were to occur, he said, he and his two- and four-legged partners are ready.

“People will say the reward is when you find something, but the real reward is when you do a sweep and you don’t find anything and can say it’s all clear,” said Tinucci, who partners with the unit’s only female, Izzy.

“The bottom line is you hope you never have to use it but all it takes is one find and how many people have you saved?”

Metro Transit’s K-9 Unit

    Alex Johannes and Merle (black lab, male)                Scott Tinucci and Izzy (yellow lab, female)

   Joshua Scharber and Rusty (brown lab, male)      Steve Schoephoerster and Cooper (black lab, male)      

Page 8 of 13 << < 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >>

Skip footer navigation

CONTACT US
FOLLOW US ON: