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Posts in Category: From the GM

Community From the GM METRO Red Line Rider Information

Mid-year Progress Report: On the Right Track  

| Wednesday, July 24, 2013 12:30:00 PM

From Brian Lamb, Metro Transit General Manager

Like any good organization, Metro Transit lays out a set of annual goals and carefully tracks its own progress. Halfway through 2013, it's safe to say we're on the right track.

Ridership is up, customers are happy and buses and trains are running on time. While there's more work to do, these positive takeaways from our own mid-year review give us and our customers reason to celebrate.

Here’s a quick scan of how Metro Transit is faring on its top 2013 goals.

> Grow ridership. After a record year in 2012, Metro Transit is on pace to reach its goal of 82 million passenger boardings this year. Overall ridership is ahead of last year and Northstar Commuter Rail is experiencing the fastest growth in its nearly four-year history, with ridership up more than 15 percent through the end of June. Average weekday ridership surpassed 3,000 customers in the month of June for the first time. Ridership on express and urban buses also continues to see steady growth.

> Improve customer satisfaction. Nine out of ten customers rated Metro Transit’s service as “Good” or “Excellent” in a customer survey completed earlier this year. Customers are as likely to recommend Metro Transit to their peers as some of America's most popular and recognizable brands, including Apple, Jet Blue, Verizon and Costco. More than half of Metro Transit bus customers say they have used transit for more than five years, a good indication that once a customer gives us a try, they tend to stick with us.

> Enhance safety and security. We're proud to have received two key safety accolades -- the Transportation Security Administration’s Gold Standard and the American Public Transportation Association’s Gold Award for Bus System Safety. A safety campaign was also named “Best of Show,” by the Minnesota Association of Government Communicators. As the Metro Transit Police Department continues to grow, we believe Metro Transit will continue to serve as a national model for transit safety and security.

> Improve operational reliability. Despite a protracted winter, disruptive spring storms and ongoing construction, buses are running on time for 89 percent of trips. ​Although weather and traffic are not within our control, pulling buses out of garages on schedule is. Bus pull-outs have been on time 997 of every 1,000 trips so far this year. Northstar commuter trains are operating on time for more than 95 percent of trips. With the receipt of 12 additional light rail vehicles for METRO Blue Line operations, we’re now able to run all three-car trains during our busiest times. 

> Promote energy conservation and environmental stewardship. Metro Transit's buildings and bus garages are being made more efficient through retrofits while employees continue to reduce their personal energy use through simple habits like turning off their computers at the end of the workday. The use of clean soy-based biodiesel fuel blends is also expanding in the bus fleet, with testing of 20 percent blends now in progress. More hybrid buses are being added to the fleet while Metro Transit's and the new light rail vehicles appearing on tracks are lighter and more energy-efficient.

> Support and foster transit-oriented development. Development along the METRO Blue Line continues to advance, with more housing and retail space coming online. At Nicollet Mall Station, Nic On Fifth is rising out of the ground directly east of the LRT platform. The 253-unit apartment building will be the first skway and LRT-connected apartment project in Minneapolis history. New housing, offices and retail developments are also emerging along University Avenue and the University of Minnesota as the METRO Green Line's mid-2014 opening approaches.

> Recruit, retain and develop a diverse and talented workforce. A historic hiring effort to bring more than 100 new bus drivers on board is nearing completion, allowing some longtime operators to transition into new roles on the METRO Green Line. Metro Transit's Police Department is also growing to meet the demands of an evolving transit network. Nearly 20 new officers were sworn-in in April. Both the new drivers and new officers reflect our riders' diverse backgrounds.

> Be a visible and respected presence in the community. Through open houses, social media (more than 25,000 now follow us on Twitter or 'Like' us on Facebook), customer advocate engagements and other outreach efforts, Metro Transit is listening to its customers in an effort to improve its service. We're is also making an effort to share more news and better connect with customers through this new Rider's Almanac blog.  

> Advance the development of new transitways. Now 93 percent complete, the METRO Green Line is coming to life with overhead wires, tracks and stations. Near Target Field, the Interchange transit hub is also taking shape, setting the stage for the METRO Green Line extension from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie and other regional transit improvements. Minnesota's first Bus Rapid Transit service, the METRO Red Line, launched in June with promising early returns while preparations for the next evolution of bus service, Arterial Bus Rapid Transit continue to evolve.   

        > METRO: Light Rail Ridership Growth Spurs Minneapolis' Metro Transit to Expand Services

        > METRO: Q & A With Metro Transit GM Brian Lamb

Bus From the GM Light Rail Rider Information

Your Driving Costs - Up again in 2013 

| Tuesday, May 07, 2013 9:12:00 PM

From Brian Lamb, Metro Transit General Manager

The American Automobile Association (AAA) published the first edition of “Your Driving Costs” 63 years ago. Gas was 27 cents a gallon, it cost about nine cents per mile to drive and the Interstate System wouldn’t exist for several years. In the 2013 edition of the annual report, AAA estimates it now costs 60.8 cents per mile on average to own and operate an average-sized sedan.

The well-known and authoritative report accounts for fuel, depreciation, maintenance and other driving costs (it does not account for parking though). At 60.8 cents per mile, driving an average automobile 15,000 miles adds up to $9,122 per year. Costs are significantly higher for SUVs, trucks and vans.

AAA has factored the average cost of fuel at $3.49 a gallon (up two percent from last year), but that’s not the only cost on the rise. Maintenance is up 11.3 percent, insurance is up nearly 3 percent and depreciation is up slightly as well. On all fronts, it’s getting more expensive to drive alone.

AAA also recently reported that $3.44 per gallon is the breaking point when it comes to fuel costs  that’s when 50 percent of drivers surveyed say prices are “too high”. We've been trending significantly higher than that in this region for most of 2013. You can check TwinCitiesGasPrices.com for current pump prices.

For an average family, transportation is the second highest expense behind housing. Changing how one gets around is much easier than changing where one lives, of course. Nearly 2/3rds of those AAA surveyed said they are offsetting rising fuel prices by “changing their driving habits or lifestyle”. Those with access to public transportation, especially those younger than 35, are choosing buses and trains more often.

Here are some examples of daily savings for households choosing transit. This table shows the average length of a customer roundtrip on each Metro Transit service type. It also reflects the average fare paid  factoring transfers, all fare levels and discounts for frequent riders using employer, student or other programs (Metropass, College Pass, Youth & Senior fares, Disabled Veterans, Job Seekers, etc.).

Mode Average roundtrip miles AAA est. car cost (@ $0.608 / mile) Average fare Savings per day
Bus 8.5 $5.17 $2.30 $2.87
Light rail 10.6 $6.44 $1.92 $4.52
Northstar 50.7 $30.83 $7.34 $23.49

As you can see, real savings add up quickly for those who choose transit  even for a few trips per week. Factoring in parking, too, the American Public Transportation Association recently reported that a multi-car Twin Cities household would save $855 each month by living with one fewer car and choosing transit and/or other alternatives to driving alone.

Many of Metro Transit's customers can’t afford to drive, but a majority have automobiles and choose public transportation instead. Without our service, these families would be pouring more of their money into the gas tank and less into their savings accounts and our regional economy.

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