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

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)      

Bus METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Route of the Week

Route 8: From the city border to the Blue Line 

| Friday, January 24, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Update: Route 8 was consolidated with Route 67 on June 14, 2014.View the Route 67 schedule here

When Meital Kashi and her husband moved from Las Vegas to Minneapolis last fall without a vehicle, they knew they wanted to live somewhere with strong transit connections.                            

They landed in Prospect Park, where Kashi’s husband is able to ride the bus to-and-from his job at the University of Minnesota. For their everyday chores, the couple has also become regular users of Route 8, which serves the Prospect Park and Seward neighborhoods.                       

“We ride just about every day, for grocery shopping and everything else,” Kashi said while on a westbound trip en route to pick her son up at daycare. “I don’t know what I’d do without it – probably have to take a taxi.”

Kashi isn’t the only one has made Route 8 a part of their daily travels. Running between the METRO Blue Line’s Franklin Avenue Station and the intersection of University Avenue and Emerald Street, Route 8 provides a key link for residents connecting to light rail in Minneapolis, shops on Franklin Avenue or bus service on University Avenue.

“I don’t drive so, for me, it’s very important,” said Knol Tate, a Prospect Park resident who has used Route 8 for the last five years to run errands on Franklin Avenue and access the Blue Line.

Students also make use of Route 8 as they travel to and from school.

McCall Atkinson, 16, travels on Route 8 between her home and the Franklin Avenue Station, where she continues south to the Lake Street Station and then walks to school at South High. Atkinson is among the more than 20,000 area high school students with a Student Pass, which provides unlimited rides on buses and METRO lines.                            

“Without this, I would have no other way to get to school,” said Atkinson, who isn’t in any rush to obtain her license and get behind the wheel.

When the METRO Green Line opens on June 14, service improvements will go into effect that will help Route 8 customers get around even more freely. The changes are part of a suite of improvements designed to provide better connections to the Green Line.

Route 8 will be replaced by an extension of Route 67, which will run between downtown St. Paul and the Blue Line's Franklin Avenue Station and connect with Green Line stations at Fairview and Raymond avenues.

Service will improve to every 20 minutes on Franklin Avenue and trips Monday through Saturday; trips will run ever hour on Sundays.The route will also move from Franklin Avenue to Riverside Avenue between 25th and 26th avenues to better serve Augsburg University and the Fairview University Medical Center.

Sam Mabbs is among those who use Route 8 and look forward to the change. The Prospect Park resident now rides the bus to University Avenue to catch a connecting bus route. In the future, he expects to use light rail to travel the University Avenue corridor. “I’m looking forward to it – I think it’ll be really, super convenient,” he said.

Route 8 At a Glance

Type: Urban Local

ServiceRoute 8 runs between the METRO Blue Line’s Franklin Avenue Station and the intersection of University Avenue and Emerald Street, in the Prospect Park neighborhood. Buses run along Franklin Avenue and cross the Mississippi River on the Franklin Avenue Bridge. Eastbound buses travel north on Emerald Street – effectively the city line between Minneapolis and St. Paul – while westbound buses travel south on Curfew Street. Buses run every 20 minutes during rush hour and every 30 minutes midday between approximately 5 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Route Length: Approximately 2 miles

Stops: 17 eastbound, 19 westbound

Vehicles: Standard 40-foot

Ridership: More than 44,000 customer boardings in 2013, with an average of 174 rides a day.

History: Streetcars ran from downtown Minneapolis to Franklin Avenue SE and 27th Avenue South beginning in 1914. Streetcar service was extended across the Franklin Avenue Bridge in 1924 and was replaced by buses in 1940. When the METRO Blue Line opened in 2004, Route 8 was shortened to end at the Franklin Avenue Station. 

Future: When the METRO Green Line opens on June 14, Route 67 will be extended to include what is now covered by Route 8. Route 67 buses will run between downtown St. Paul and the METRO Blue Line's Franklin Avenue Station, largely along Franklin and Minnehaha avenues. Service will improve to every 20 minutes, Monday through Saturday and every hour on Sundays between approximately 5 a.m. and 1 a.m. The route will also be re-routed from Franklin Avenue to to Riverside Avenue between 25th and 26th avenues to better serve Augsburg University and the Fairview University Medical Center. See complete details here.

Bus METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Route of the Week University of Minnesota

Route 2: A catalyst for going car-free 

| Wednesday, January 15, 2014 4:56:00 PM

When Pete Huff moved to the Twin Cities a few months ago, he looked for a location that would allow him to continue living a car-free life. He found it in the Seward neighborhood, where he can readily access the METRO Blue Line and connecting bus routes.

The route he turns to when traveling to and from work every day: Route 2, which runs along Franklin Avenue between Hennepin Avenue and the University of Minnesota and connects with the Blue Line’s Franklin Avenue Station.

“I chose to live where I live because I knew I could pretty much get anywhere in the city – east, west, north or south,” Huff said during a recent westbound trip on Route 2.

The ambition to go without a car was shared among several customers recently interviewed aboard Route 2. Others on the bus said they couldn’t afford to have a vehicle or simply preferred the convenience of using transit to get around.

Bruno Oakman is among those who use Route 2 and believe it to be easier than driving. Oakman works at The Commons Hotel, on Washington Avenue, and takes the bus to avoid traffic and parking costs on the U of M campus.

“I like being able to relax, catch up on e-mail and take some time for myself,” said Oakman, who walks less than a block from his home to catch the bus.

While Oakman was on his way to work, many others on Route 2 were on their way to class at the U of M or Augsburg University. Traveling eastbound from Franklin Avenue, Route 2 buses continue north on Riverside Avenue to the West Bank, cross the Mississippi River on the Washington Avenue Bridge and run through the heart of the East Bank campus on the Washington Avenue Transit Pedestrian Mall. At the far east end, Route 2 travels on 4th Street SE and University Avenue, serving Dinkytown and residents in the Marcy Holmes neighborhood.

U of M student Marie Barland lives in Uptown and has used Route 2 throughout her college career. Instead of owning a car and driving, she has a $97-a-semester U-Pass and gets unlimited bus and METRO rides.

“I’m one of those rare people who never got my license and take Metro Transit everywhere,” said Barland, who uses the money she saves on transportation to travel.

Students and others who use Route 2 will have even more connectivity when the METRO Green Line opens June 14.

On the west end of the Washington Avenue Bridge, Route 2 will connect with the Green Line’s West Bank Station, located on Washington Avenue between 19th and Cedar avenues. On the other side of the bridge, Route 2 customers can get off at Coffman Memorial Union and access the East Bank Station.

The new rail connections will allow customers to travel east through campus towards downtown St. Paul on University Avenue. Green Line trains will travel westbound to Target Field, sharing five Blue Line stations in downtown Minneapolis.

Johanna Gorman-Baer lives near Franklin and Cedar avenues and uses Route 2 to visit friends near the U of M. Gorman-Baer said she is looking forward to the Green Line’s opening so she can explore more parts of St. Paul. She is considering moving nearer to the Green Line so she can have easier access to frequent, all-day transit.

“I’m looking for a new apartment and that’s the number priority – living along some form of major transit line,” Gorman-Baer said.

Shawn Vriezen is also looking forward to the expanded options the Green Line will offer. Vriezen uses Route 2 to get to work on the East Bank, but also bikes and uses car sharing services like Car2Go to visit friends and run errands as a way to avoid car ownership. Green line trains will only open his horizons that much more, Vriezen said.

“I don’t go to St. Paul as much as I used to, but that pretty much opens up all of University and downtown,” he said.

However Route 2 changes as a result of the Green Line, operator C.J. Camp said it’s likely to remain one of his favorites. Camp has driven the route off-and-on over the last 12 years and said he enjoys the mix of customers and destinations he encounters while traveling east and west.

“It’s got a real-cross section of the city," he said. "No matter what time of day, it’s always lively.”

Route 2 At a Glance

Type: Urban Local

Service: Route 2 runs between Hennepin Avenue and the U of M, largely along Franklin Avenue. Traveling east, buses run from Hennepin and Franklin avenues to the METRO Blue Line’s Franklin Avenue Station. The route continues northbound at Riverside Avenue and crosses the Mississippi River on the Washington Avenue Bridge, running through the heart of the U of M’s East Bank campus on the Washington Avenue Transit Pedestrian Mall towards Dinkytown. Route 2’s eastern terminus is located at 6th Street SE and East Hennepin Avenue, which has a high concentration of student housing. Buses run from approximately 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily with service every 5 to 15 minutes during rush hour, every 15 minutes midday and every 20 to 30 minutes on evenings and weekends.

Route Length: Approximately 8 miles

Stops: 48 eastbound, 47 westbound

Vehicles: Standard 40-foot

Ridership: More than 1.67 million customer boardings in 2012, with an average of 4,576 passengers per day. 

History: When Route 2 began in 1971, it crossed the Mississippi River on Franklin Avenue and stopped short of the U of M campus. The route was later moved to Riverside Avenue so that it served Riverside Medical Center, Augsburg University and Washington Avenue, on the U of M campus. The change led to a dramatic increase in ridership. Metro Transit introduced a service connecting student housing on 8th Street SE and later combined it with Route 2 to create the roughly 8-mile route that exists today. Ridership expanded when the U Pass was introduced in 2000 and again in 2004 with the opening of the METRO Blue Line

Future: When the METRO Green Line opens June 14, Route 2 will connect with the West Bank Station and East Bank Station and share right of way with Green Line trains on the Washington Avenue Transit/Pedestrian Mall. Service will continue at its existing level.

Bus METRO Blue Line METRO Orange Line Midtown Corridor Minneapolis Route of the Week

Route 27: A short route with a big impact 

| Friday, January 10, 2014 12:00:00 AM

An end-to-end trip on Route 27 covers around two miles and takes just 10 minutes. While short, the route has proven to be an important connection for commuters and residents in south Minneapolis.

Joel Oliver is a case in point. Oliver boarded recently at East 28th Street and Park Avenue, using Route 27 to get to the METRO Blue Line’s Lake Street/Midtown Station. From there, he continued south to the Minneapolis VA, where he works in vocational rehabilitation.

“I don’t use a car so public transportation is everything,” said Oliver, who is visually impaired.

While Oliver was traveling eastbound on Route 27, the route is also a strong link for those traveling west from the Blue Line. From Lake Street/Midtown Station, Route 27 buses travel east on Lake Street then venture north on Cedar Avenue to East 26th Street en route to Interstate 35W. Buses return to the Blue Line via East 28th Street.

James Broom is among those who travel westbound on Route 27. Without a car, Broom uses transit to get to his job in Bloomington and uses Route 27 to get to I-35W and Lake Street, where he transfers to Route 535.

“I generally like to bike, but when it’s winter and it's super cold I don’t like to go that far,” Broom said.

Broom works at Wells Fargo’s Bloomington office, but Route 27 is especially important to employees who work at the company’s home mortgage campus on 5th Avenue South. Wells Fargo employee Ludy has used Route 27 as part of her commute for the last 11 years, walking a few blocks to the Blue Line’s 50th Street Station and transferring to Route 27 at Lake Street.

“I take the train for a couple of stops and then this gets me the rest of the way,” she said. “It’s very convenient. I love it.”

Other major destinations along Route 27 include Abbott Northwestern Hospital and Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota.

Sharon Sanford uses Route 27 to see her doctor every couple of months and was on board this week after transferring from Route 7. Sanford said she elects to take transit primarily for environmental reasons. “I believe in mass transit because there’s too much pollution in the air,” she said.

While Route 27 is designed primarily to serve as a link between light rail and large employers and institutions, it has earned a following from south Minneapolis residents who use the bus to get groceries or shop on Lake Street as well.

Elie Hall is among those who use Route 27 to run errands. Hall began using the bus when he moved into Ebenezer Care Center on Portland Avenue four years ago. “I don’t want to drive anymore so this means a lot to me,” Hall said recently as he returned from the grocery store. “Every place I go, I use transit.”

Route 27 At a Glance

Type: Urban Local

ServiceRoute 27 runs between the METRO Blue Line’s Lake Street/Midtown Station and I-35W and Lake Street with service on Portland Avenue, 26th Street East and 28th Street East. Buses run every 10 to 20 minutes during rush hour and every 30 minutes midday, weekdays only. The route serves major employers such as Wells Fargo, Abbott Northwestern Hospital and Children's Hospital and Clinic. Reverse commuters who work in this location are also served by Route 39, which provides limited-stop service on Park and Portland avenues.

Route Length: Approximately 2 miles

Stops: 13 eastbound, 17 westbound

Vehicles: Standard 40-foot

Ridership: Nearly 63,000 customer boardings in 2012, with an average of 217 passengers per day

History: Route 27 service began when the METRO Blue Line opened in 2004. The route was created in part to serve large employers that were not directly connected to the new rail service.

Future: No service changes are planned at this time. However, there are plans for a new transit center at I-35W and Lake Street that would serve express buses and the METRO Orange Line. The Midtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis is meanwhile exploring improvements to service in the nearby Lake Street Corridor.

Bus METRO Blue Line Minneapolis Route of the Week

Route 9: From the west metro to the METRO Blue Line 

| Monday, December 23, 2013 10:00:00 AM

When Diane Fischman moved to Minneapolis in 2006, she quickly lost enthusiasm for the traffic on Interstate 394. So she started taking the bus instead.

Today, Fischman uses Route 9 on a near-daily basis to get from her home in St. Louis Park to her job in downtown Minneapolis. She also uses Route 9 to bring her bike to Theodore Wirth Park or Cedar Lake and to visit the Minneapolis Farmers Market. When she travels, she uses the bus to connect with the METRO Blue Line and continue to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

“I started using it (the bus) and found out I could use it to pretty much get all over town,” Fischman said this week as she commuted into her job at Wells Fargo. “Now I hardly ever use my car.”

Like Fischman, many customers interviewed aboard Route 9 on a recent weekday morning said they use the bus for several reasons and enjoy the freedom it provides them to leave their car at home, or give it up altogether.

From the west, Route 9 runs from the St. Louis Park-Minnetonka border along Cedar Lake Road, stopping at the Louisiana Avenue Transit Center and the Park Place & I-394 Park & Ride, each of which sit just south of I-394. From there, select Route 9 trips venture north to Glenwood Avenue, in Golden Valley, or continue west on Wayzata Boulevard, serving The Shops at West End and Target’s West Campus.

All Route 9 trips eventually operate through or near Theodore Wirth Park, serving the Bryn Mawr neighborhood before entering downtown Minneapolis on Glenwood Avenue, where streetcars once served large industrial tenants.

Among those who use the western section of Route 9 is Lubenia Brown, who has been riding the bus for nearly a decade. Brown boards at the Louisiana Avenue Transit Center and rides to her job as a special education assistant at Anwatin Middle School in Bryn Mawr.

“It’s very convenient because it drops me off a half-block from the school and I’m there 15 minutes before the day starts,” Brown said.

In downtown Minneapolis, Route 9 stops at the Ramp A/7th Street Transit Center, a popular hub for customers going to Twins games at Target Field, then continues south on Franklin Avenue to Minneapolis’ Longfellow neighborhood. In south Minneapolis, Route 9 intersects with the METRO Blue Line’s Franklin Avenue and 46th Street stations.

Andrew Arndt moved to Bryn Mawr in September. Although he likes to bike to work, Arndt said he began using Route 9 when the snow started to fall and temperatures dropped. During his 20-minute bus commute to his stop at Nicollet Avenue, he catches up on work email and reads the news on his phone.                     

“I like the fact that I don’t have to deal with traffic or other drivers,” he said.

Route 9 originally ran between Theodore Wirth Park and downtown Minneapolis, but was extended further south to the Blue Line’s 46th Street Station in 2009. The move was part of an effort to improve the efficiency of "through routes" that enter and leave downtown.

The extension has brought riders like Corinna Cohen onto Route 9.                                    

Cohen boarded the bus on 42nd Avenue, continuing north to the Blue Line’s Franklin Avenue Station where she connected with a Route 2 bus. Though she has access to a car, Cohen said she prefers taking the bus so she can relax and avoid paying for parking. “If I was driving, I’d just be feeding the meter all day,” she said.

Sally Wiedenbeck also boarded in south Minneapolis, taking Route 9 to Bryn Mawr’s Anwatin Middle School. Wiedenbeck gave up driving several years ago and said she uses her 45-minute commute to read, listen to music and catch up on schoolwork.                                       

“I like the bus better than driving because it feels like my time,” she said. “I can do whatever I want.”

Route 9 At a Glance

Type: Urban Local

ServiceRoute 9 travels from eastern Minnetonka, through St. Louis Park and downtown Minneapolis, and south Minneapolis, connecting with METRO Blue Line Franklin Avenue and 46th Street stations. There are three Park & Rides on the St. Louis Park section of the route, including Westwood Lutheran Church, Louisiana Avenue Transit Center and Park Place & I-394 Park & Ride, at I-394 and Park Place. In St, Louis Park, Route 9 operates largely along Cedar Lake Road to The Shops at West End. In Minneapolis, Route 9 travels through the Bryn Mawr neighborhood, cutting between Cedar Lake and Theodore With Park before entering downtown Minneapolis via Glenwood Avenue. In south Minneapolis, Route 9 continues on Franklin Avenue and through the Longfellow neighborhood to 46th Street, where there are several connecting bus routes.

Route Length: Approximately 15 miles

Stops: 180 eastbound, 181 westbound

Vehicles: Standard 40-foot

Ridership: Route 9 saw more than 935,300 customer boardings in 2012, with an average of around 2,555 customer boardings per day.

History: Until 1954, the Glenwood streetcar line served industry that lined Glenwood Avenue, on the western edge of downtown Minneapolis, as well as Theodore Wirth Park, a popular weekend destination for city residents (the waiting shelter at the Wirth end of the line remains today, and sits just south of Glenwood Avenue). The Glenwood line was later joined with the 4th Avenue South streetcar line, the first electric line in the city and one of the most popular routes in the system. Route 9 originally traveled between downtown Minneapolis and Theodore Wirth Park, but was expanded as planners looked to improve travel times and frequency on "through routes" that continue through downtown (such routes reduce redundant bus mileage while offering a one-seat ride for more passengers). Route 9 was extended west to St. Louis Park in the 1970s. In 2009, it was extended south through the Longfellow neighborhood to the METRO Blue Line’s 46th Street Station.

Future: No service changes are planned at this time.                                                                                              

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

Skip footer navigation