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Accessibility Bus From the GM

Accessibility improvements ensure system works for everyone 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, July 26, 2018 12:38:00 PM

Collage of disabilities

From General Manager Brian Lamb

As an organization, we talk a lot about how important transit is to providing access to opportunity. That’s particularly true for people with disabilities who rely on transit to live a full and independent life. 

Because we want transit to be inclusive, we continually ask ourselves whether we’re doing enough to welcome everyone who wants to ride, regardless of their abilities. 

We have good reason to think about what we’ve done and what we’ve set out do this week, as the Americans with Disabilities Act reaches its 28th anniversary. There’s a lot to be proud of, too.  ​

Over the past year, we’ve installed level concrete pads at dozens of bus stops to make boarding easier for individuals who use mobility devices. As we’ve installed new and replacement shelters, we’ve also addressed curbs and other physical barriers that make it harder to get to and around these stops.

Bus operators going from part- to full-time recently began taking classes in which they use blindfolds and ear protection to experience what it’s like to board and ride the bus without being able to see or hear.

Go-To Card readers on all our rail stations and buses have been equipped with audio cues while keyboards on A Line ticket vending machines were designed to better serve individuals with visual impairment.

Our new Text for Safety service allows suspicious behavior to be reported through text message, something that is especially useful for people who are deaf, blind or hard of hearing.

And just last month, we made it simpler to get a Limited Mobility fare card by removing the requirement to get a special endorsement on a driver’s license or state ID.

Our fleet has also steadily become more accessible over the years, with level boarding at light rail stations, buses with roomier interiors on our rapid bus lines and a nearly-completed phase out of high-floor buses.

Our system will become even more accessible in the years ahead, too.

Responding to customer feedback, future light rail trains will have a more spacious seating arrangement that provides more room for mobility devices.

A new station at I-35W and Lake Street will replace a highway-level stop once accessible only by a steep set of stairs with a modern, two-level facility equipped with elevators.

Transit Information hopes to test tactile maps, high contrast signs and larger text at select sites to invite feedback and determine if such features should be applied more broadly.

Our accessibility improvements directly benefit the roughly 1 in 10 regular route customers who reported having a disability in the Council’s latest survey of regional travelers.

But they also make our system better and easier for anyone who rides with us, including children, the elderly and caretakers traveling with strollers.

We’ve made a lot of progress in the nearly three decades since the ADA became law, and look forward to making even more improvements in the years ahead.

Learn more about Metro Transit’s accessibility features

From the GM Go Green

Commitment to environment goes beyond sustainable transportation 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, April 20, 2018 2:10:00 PM

From General Manager Brian Lamb

Passenger cars and other vehicles are Minnesota’s second-largest source of greenhouse gases, a leading cause of climate change and air pollution. And while advances in technology have led to a steady decline in vehicle emissions, there’s still a lot more to be done.

As an agency, Metro Transit is helping the state meet its clean air goals primarily by offering convenient alternatives to driving alone, providing more than 280,000 rides each weekday.

But the commitment to the environment doesn’t end there. In fact, Metro Transit has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the most sustainability-minded transit agencies in the country. The agency has achieved Gold Level status in the American Public Transportation Association's Sustainability Commitment program. 

As we celebrate Earth Day this week, we wanted to share a few of the other ways we’re reducing our environmental impact:

 > For the past year, we’ve collected compostable materials like food scraps and paper napkins at our Heywood Office, Transit Control Center and Transfer Road facilities. Along with traditional recycling efforts, we’re keeping about two-thirds of what we toss from ending up in the waste stream. We plan to expand these composting and recycling efforts to each of our garages and other support facilities later this year.

 > By the end of this year, around 75 percent of the fixtures at our support and customer facilities will be equipped with energy-efficient LED lighting. This lighting not only uses less energy but is longer-lasting and less-costly to maintain.

  > We continue to install small solar panels at waiting shelters to power lighting at these locations. We also continue to explore opportunities to put more solar panels on the rooftops of our support and public facilities (above, panels at the Maplewood Mall Transit Center and Park & Ride). Coupled with the energy we purchase from solar installations at Council-owned sites, we are on track to achieve our goal of having all our energy needs met by renewable resources as early as 2040.

 > As part of our C Line project, we plan to purchase eight fully-electric buses and install charging equipment at the Heywood Garage and Brooklyn Center Transit Center later this year. We’ll also be adding more electric vehicles to our non-revenue fleet and consider buying electric buses as we replace older vehicles and expand our service.

> Fleetwide fuel economy continues to improve, from just under 4 miles per gallon in 2008 to nearly 5 miles per gallon in 2017. We recently began using synthetic engine oil in our buses, a change that allows us to use less oil by doubling the interval between oil changes. New engine technologies and advanced exhaust filtration systems have also significantly reduced the amount of harmful emissions coming from our buses.

 > The new Metro Transit Police Headquarters will be our most sustainable building ever, with a geothermal system that heats and cools the building, natural lighting and other energy-saving features. Designs for a new service garage north of Heywood also call for a host of energy-saving features.

 > Later this month, we’ll begin using technology that will allow us to capture and re-use more of the energy produced when Blue Line trains brake, a system that could be incorporated into future light rail extensions.

Thank you to all our customers who are doing part to support the environment by riding with us. We share your commitment to the environment and hope to continue building on that commitment in the years to come. 


Celebrate Earth Day with us on April 22

The METRO Blue and Green lines will be operated 100 percent by wind power on Earth Day (Sunday, April 22) with Xcel Energy's WindSource® program. Light rail is always zero-emission travel at the source, since it always operates using electricity. Using wind power for Earth Day makes it a truly sustainable transportation option from the energy source to the vehicle.

Make a sustainable choice every day with Metro Transit! A single bus has the potential to take 40+ individual cars off the road and a 3 car light-rail train can remove almost 600 cars from the roadways when people ride. 

Learn more about our fuel efficient and upcoming all-electric vehicles along with other environmental improvements at metrotransit.org/GoGreener.

Bus From the GM Minneapolis

Nicollet Mall revamp puts transit back at the center of downtown 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, November 30, 2017 10:34:00 PM

From General Manager Brian Lamb

For the past two years, construction has prevented us from using one of the most important and popular features of our transit network – Nicollet Mall

Moving six of our busiest local bus routes to Hennepin Avenue – bringing 800 more daily trips to a street already full of buses, cars, pedestrians and bicyclists – brought its share of challenges.

I want to extend a sincere thank you to everyone who moved with us from Nicollet to Hennepin, and to all those have stuck with us through all of the road and light rail construction downtown in recent years. 

Hopefully, like me, you’re excited about what all this work means for our city center. 

The Nicollet Mall project has brought new lighting, more than 200 trees, public art and other improvements, creating a much richer and pedestrian-friendly environment. Later this year, we’ll build on the city's reconstruction efforts by putting in a dozen new shelters with heat, light and real-time displays.

Hybrid buses and free rides on some routes will also remain features of our Nicollet Mall service. 

And while the remake of “Minnesota’s Main Street” is significant, transit improvements are being made throughout the downtown area. 

We’ve added to our downtown shelter network and spruced up our light rail stations. We’re putting the finishing touches on track and system improvements that will improve light rail operations downtown. And we’ve worked with partners like the Downtown Improvement District on creative placemaking efforts at several of our busiest stops. 

There’s more to come, too. 

Next year, construction will begin on a new transit-only access ramp that will make it easier for express and Orange Line buses to get in and out of downtown. Our next two rapid bus lines, the C Line and D Line, will also provide faster, more frequent service to and from downtown. 

These improvements come at an opportune time. 

Increasingly, downtown is not just a home to major employers but a place to live, dine, shop or take in a show. The Super Bowl and other future large events will also bring more visitors and attention to our downtown area. 

With so much going on within just a few square miles, transit is more than a nicety, it’s a necessity. 

Thank you again for sticking with us through all the recent construction. We hope our customers enjoy the new Nicollet Mall and join us in looking forward to all the other improvements that lie ahead. 

Nicollet Mall History

Nicollet Mall opened in 1968, championed and largely funded by a group of downtown business owners intent on competing with suburban shopping centers like the newly-opened Southdale Mall. It was the first of many transit malls that would eventually be built for similar reasons in large U.S. cities. 

When Nicollet Mall opened, it was served by routes 17 and 18. Several other routes later operated on the mall, including Route 10, and express buses to Richfield, Bloomington and Minnetonka. 

Nicollet Mall was also briefly home to a downtown circulator known as Quick Transit, or QT, which began in 1971. The propane-powered QT minibuses ran along Nicollet Mall until 1980. 

To reduce the number of buses traveling on the mall, express routes were moved to Marquette and Second avenues nearly 20 years ago. Today, the mall is served by routes 10, 11, 17, 18, 25 and 59. Prior to construction, there were around 12,500 average daily boardings on Nicollet Mall. 

Free rides have been available on select Nicollet Mall routes since 2010 (southbound routes 10 and 59 and northbound Route 18).

Bus Fares From the GM Light Rail

Fare toolbox grows with introduction of new mobile app 

| Thursday, November 03, 2016 9:52:00 AM

Metro Transit's app allows customers to buy fares in advance and display them on a mobile device. From General Manager Brian Lamb

When people leave their homes, there are a few essential items they’re likely carrying with them, including identification, credit or bank cards and a mobile phone.                                                                   

Less likely to be in their pocket: a Go-To Card or the exact change it costs to board a bus or light-rail train.

Confusion about the fare and the need to have the right amount ready to board has long been a challenge for new or infrequent riders, sometimes discouraging them from using transit altogether.

Ticket vending machines that accept cash and credit cards at rail and rapid bus stations helped us begin to address this challenge. This week, we took another major step forward as we introduced a new Metro Transit app that allows people to buy and instantly use fares using a smartphone.

With the app, customers can purchase mobile tickets in advance and use them when they’re ready to ride. These customers will prove they’ve paid their fare by showing bus operators or police officers a screen with a unique, moving image that can’t be replicated or used after time has expired.

Created in partnership with tech company moovel, the app also provides access to our website’s most popular trip planning tools. In the future, it will give customers a simple way to let us know about immediate concerns and to receive alerts about the routes they most often use.

Operators and police have been trained to recognize valid mobile tickets over the last several months and a number of employees have successfully tested it in the field over the last few weeks.

Time will tell how the successful the app and mobile ticketing will be in attracting new customers, but there are several reasons to believe it will be a powerful tool. Consider:

    > Nearly 7 in 10 U.S. adults own a smartphone, and a third have used them to make a mobile payment. Our largest customer group, Millenials, are even more likely to own a smartphone and use it to make purchases. For many low-income residents, smartphones are the only reliable access to online resources.

    > The Twin Cities has become a top tourist destination, attracting more than 30 million visitors a year. An even greater number of visitors will arrive in the coming years for the Super Bowl and other large events. While special fare products that serve travelers have been introduced, mobile tickets are more immediate and convenient.  

    > About 72 percent of our website’s visits are from mobile devices and 16 percent of fares are sold through our online store. Use of a new service that allows customers to access NexTrip information by text message has grown exponentially since being introduced last June.

There are advantages for our operations, too. Cash-paying customers take more time at the farebox when boarding and face longer lines when buying tickets after large events. Customers who use mobile tickets will board just as efficiently as those using Go-To Cards.

While there are several clear advantages, the number of customers expected to use mobile tickets is likely to be small – we hope they will account for around 5 percent of all fare payments within the next year.

But getting customers to purchase their fares through the app on a regular basis isn’t really our goal. Instead, we want the app and mobile ticketing to move transit up on the list of options people consider when making a trip, eventually earning their trust so Go-To Cards become just as indispensable as their smartphones.

Learn More

Learn how to download the app, create an account and purchase mobile tickets at metrotransit.org/app 

Bus Community From the GM METRO Green Line Minneapolis Ridership St. Paul Transit Improvements

2014: A historic year for Metro Transit 

| Tuesday, December 30, 2014 3:16:00 PM

As we prepare to close the books on 2014, I’d like to briefly reflect on all of the incredible progress Metro Transit has made over the last 12 months. It was, in short, an incredible and historic year for our organization, our customers and our region.

With so much great work going on, it is impossible to capture everything that happened this year in a single column. The list that follows contains just a few of the year’s highlights. I hope looking back will inspire you to think about what transit meant to you in 2014 – and what it will continue to mean in the years to come.

METRO Green Line opens to immediate success

It would be impossible to talk about this year without talking first about the METRO Green Line, which opened on time and on budget on June 14. Despite a soggy couple of days, more than 107,000 rides were taken during the Green Line’s opening weekend.

That great introduction was only a hint of what was to come. By year’s end, we expect to provide around 6 million rides on the Green Line, well ahead of where we expected to be just six months into service. Ride the line today and you will see students, seniors, children and every walk of life sharing the ride as they travel to class, work, a Vikings game or to one of the many unique restaurants and shops in our downtown areas and along University Avenue. You’ll also see clear evidence that the Green Line is reshaping the land around it for the better.

The Green Line was decades in the making and there remains significant work to realize the vision that has been set for the Central Corridor. But just six short months since service began, it’s clear this transit project has had a major impact on our community.

Website redesign improves trip planning, mobile experience

A redesigned, mobile-friendly website that provides enhanced trip planning features and an improved interactive map was also introduced in June. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. By the end of the year, we expect to have had nearly 12 million website visits and around 7.5 million online trip plans – both record-setting numbers.

Sustainability efforts continue, win praise

A new Park & Ride in Brooklyn Park came as the latest sign of Metro Transit’s continuing commitment to sustainability. The 1,000-space Park & Ride that opened in August features a geothermal heating & cooling system, electric vehicle charging stations and a solar array that offsets energy use at the site.

Recognizing our ongoing efforts to reduce our environmental impact, the American Public Transportation Association in August placed Metro Transit among a distinguished group of 12 transit agencies to earn Gold Level certification through their Sustainability Commitment program.

Visitors from around the country experience transit network

In July, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game drew thousands of visitors to the Twin Cities, many of whom used Metro Transit to get around. Nearly 45,000 additional light-rail and Northstar rides were generated by events during All-Star Week, including around 6,000 rides on light rail to the All-Star Game at Target Field.

In September, the Rail~Volution conference drew another 1,400 people to the Twin Cities to explore transit and witness the development our system is inspiring. Our story is now being shared as an example in cities across the U.S.

On top of these special events we provided nearly 512,000 rides to and from the Minnesota State Fair and it’s new Transit Hub and doubled ridership to Minnesota Vikings home games at TCF Bank Stadium.

Metro Transit Police Department grows, becomes more diverse

The Metro Transit Police Department grew to more than 200 part- and full-time officers, allowing police to focus on community-based policing along the Green Line and to establish the Northside Community Policing Team, a new beat that is already having an impact North Minneapolis. The growth also led to new diversity, including the department’s first Hmong officer.

Taken together, these efforts and a continued commitment to our Guiding Principles will drive year-end ridership to around 84 million, a 33-year high.

That’s a significant achievement that all transit customers and supporters can be proud to have been a part of. While we celebrate how far we’ve come, we also recognize our work is far from over. In fact, much of the activity that occurred in 2014 was focused on setting the framework for future success.

As we look forward to 2015, I’m excited to see construction begin on our first arterial Bus Rapid Transit line, the A Line, and for service to begin later in the year. I’m also eager to see us expand our commitment to transit equity, enhance the customer experience through improved transit information and bus stop amenities and continue our sustainability efforts. 

Thank you for everything you did to make 2014 one of our best years ever. We look forward to serving you in 2015 and beyond. 

 

 

2014: The Year in Review


January

> Metro Transit announces 2013 ridership grows to 81.4 million, one of the highest levels in 30 years.

> Council Chair Sue Haigh delivers her State of the Region address, saying the region must “think regionally and act equitably” in order to grow.

> Transit Information Center representatives handle 118,521 calls, setting a new record for calls handled in a single month.

> Metro Transit’s Twitter account reaches 10,000 followers.

February

President Obama talks transportation at Union Depot.President Obama visits St. Paul and receives the METRO Green Line’s first honorary ticket.

A combination of rail and enhanced bus is recommended as the best long-term transit improvements for the Midtown Corridor.

Metro Transit starts sharing photos on Instagram.

March

Service begins on Route 30, a new bus route serving North and Northeast Minneapolis and connecting with the Green Line in St. Paul.

The American Public Transportation announced transit ridership is at its highest level in 57 years.

April

Metro Transit, Xcel Energy and the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce recognize Earth Day at the new Operations & Maintenance Facility in Lowertown.

The Twins season opens and a Twins Family Pass is introduced as a new cost-effective way of getting to the game.

Test trains begin full-schedule testing on the Green Line.

May

Target Field Station opens north of Target Field, providing additional boarding capacity on busy event days and creating a new public space in the North Loop neighborhood.

Several of Metro Transit’s retired buses are purchased for creative re-uses, including a new mobile learning center.

Thrive MSP 2040 approved by the Met Council, setting a framework for regional economic development. 

June

The METRO Green Line opens on time and on budget. “Often history is defined in terms of great moments of transportation and this is no exception,” Mayor Chris Coleman says at the ribbon-cutting.

Service improvements are made on several connecting bus routes throughout the Central Corridor, following years of outreach and planning.

20 new part-time officers sworn in as members of the Metro Transit Police Department.

Metro Transit’s top operators recognized at the annual Ovations Awards Ceremony, including the organization’s first 30-Year Elite Operator.

A new parking ramp and pedestrian overpass opens at Northstar’s Anoka Station.

Nicollet Mall Station as seen from The Nic on Fifth.The METRO Blue Line celebrates its ten-year anniversary.

July

Metro Transit serves events throughout All-Star Week, providing around 6,000 rides to and from the All-Star game at Target Field.

Met Council approves plans for A Line (Snelling Avenue BRT), which secures all necessary funding to begin construction and go into service in 2015. 

16 new full-time officers sworn in as members of the Metro Transit Police Department, bringing the department’s total number of officers to around 200. Approximately half of the new officers are bilingual, including the department’s first officer fluent in Cambodian.

August

The Highway 610 and Noble Parkway Park & Ride opens in Brooklyn Park. The 1,000-space Park & Ride includes solar panels and other sustainable features.

The Gophers and Vikings begin their home seasons at TCF Bank Stadium, served by the Green Line. Ridership to Vikings games nearly doubles from previous seasons.

A new State Fair Transit Hub opens on the west side of the fairgrounds, providing customers more convenient access. Record State Fair attendance helps boost ridership 15 percent, to nearly 512,000 rides. 

APTA awards Metro Transit Gold Level status for efforts to conserve energy at facilities and improve fuel efficiency.

Metro Transit and MVTA partner on a free ride promotion to help customers get to the new Twin Cities Premium Outlets, which opens near the METRO Red Line’s Cedar Grove Station in Eagan. Ridership reaches a new record 1,031 average weekday rides.

Metro Transit debuts new system map that is simpler and easier to read.

A record 529 Northstar tickets are sold online in advance of the Paul McCartney concert at Target Field.

Metro Transit’s re-designed website sees 310,317 unique visitors and the online Trip Planner is used 723,936 times, a new monthly record.

METRO Green Line Extension (Southwest LRT) receives municipal consent from all five cities along the proposed alignment.

Route 865 begins providing express service between downtown Minneapolis and Anoka County.

Jerry Olson, 2014 Minnesota Public Transit Association Bus Operator of the Year.September

Metro Transit Operator Jerry Olson is named Minnesota Operator of the Year by the Minnesota Public Transportation Association. Deputy General Manger Mark Fuhrmann recognized as Transit Professional of the Year.

U-Pass sales surpass 17,500, beating total sales from the fall 2013 semester.

Metro Transit awarded $3.14 million Ladders of Opportunity grant to make bus stop improvements.

Rail~Volution brings around 1,400 people to the Twin Cities for a week-long conference on transit-oriented development.

Green Line tops 1 million monthly rides for the first time.

Metro Transit launches its fall campaign, including a TV commercial highlighting transit's ease of use.

Residents begin moving into Nic on Fifth, a new 26-story apartment building directly adjacent to Nicollet Mall Station. The development leads to the creation of a new platform for light-rail customers (opening 2015).

October

Draft Service Improvement Plan outlining 10- to 15-year vision for local, express and suburban bus service improvements released for public comment.

Metro Transit buses travel an average of 9,971 miles between maintenance road call, a new record.

Car-sharing service Car2Go secures dedicated parking spaces at three Blue Line stations.

November

METRO Orange Line receives federal approval to enter project development, advancing the project toward a 2019 opening.

For the first time, Metro Transit and other fixed-route transit providers provide fre rides on Election Day.

Northstar trains take country music fans to and from all 11 Garth Brooks concerts at Target Center in downtown Minneapolis.

Met Council approves $6.5 million in Livable Communities grants to support transit-oriented development.

December

Metro Transit decorates buses and light-rail and Northstar trains with holiday lights and encourages customers to take “selfies” while riding.

Two new Park & Ride’s open on Interstate 35E with express service to downtown St. paul provided by Route 275.

Northstar Service Guarantee introduced, providing registered Northstar commuters fare refunds for any regularly-scheduled Northstar trip that is 11 or more minutes late in January. 

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