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A Line BRT Bus Community METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Minneapolis St. Paul State Fair

A Line opening sparks curiosity, enthusiasm 

| Tuesday, June 14, 2016 8:38:00 AM

Customers board the A Line at Snelling and University avenues on Saturday, June 11.Car free for the last five years, Michelle Quaranto relies on transit to travel between her home near the Green Line’s Raymond Avenue Station and her job in Eagan.  

So when the A Line opened on Saturday, she was eager to see how her commute would change once she was able to begin using the region’s first rapid bus service.

In the past, Quaranto took Route 84 between the Green Line’s Snelling Avenue Station and the Blue Line’s 46th Street Station. The A Line now offers faster, more frequent service between those two points.

“I really rely on transit to make my life better,” Quaranto said before boarding at Snelling and University avenues shortly after the A Line opened on Saturday, June 11. “Taking light rail to the 84 was usually my quickest option, and now it will be even quicker which is great.”

Several others who ventured out for their inaugural rides on the A Line were similarly excited about its arrival and the impact it would have on their daily travels.           

The first of a dozen planned rapid bus lines, the A Line runs between Rosedale Center and the Blue Line’s 46th Street Station on Snelling Avenue, Ford Parkway and 46th Street. Service runs every ten minutes and trips are up to eight minutes faster than regular route buses.

Trips are sped up through a combination of light-rail like features like off-board fare payments, technology that lets A Line buses request longer green lights at intersections and by locating stations a half-mile apart.

A Line stations also have heat, light, displays with real-time NexTrip transit information and security features more commonly found on light-rail.

“It really is kind of like riding a train,” said North St. Paul resident David Hull as he and his wife Roseanne traveled southbound from Rosedale Center for the first time.

Hull’s family of five shares two vehicles, so he was curious to see if he could relieve some of the demand by taking the A Line and the Blue Line to a new job at the Veteran’s Administration.

Tyler Schow, a downtown Minneapolis resident who frequently rides transit, noticed a difference even before boarding. “My favorite part is that you can see the bus coming from a distance and instead of stopping it just keeps coming,” Schow said.  

Bus operators picking up A Line customers for the first time were also enjoying the ride. “What I like about it is it’s very fluid,” Operator Roosevelt Scott said.           

Others trying out the A Line said it would make them more likely to explore the businesses along the corridor. Rosedale Center, Har Mar Mall, the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, Macalester College, Hamline University, Highland Park and Minnehaha Park are among the destinations served by the A line. The site of a planned major league soccer stadium is also located at University and Snelling avenues. 

“I like to explore different areas and this is a great way to do that,” said Onrai Terrell who ventured to the A Line’s opening from Eagan by taking the METRO Red Line, a Bus Rapid Transit service on Cedar Avenue, and the Blue Line.

Ted Davis, of the Midway Chamber of Commerce, touched on the importance of transit in attracting new businesses, workers and residents as he joined others celebrating the A Line’s opening . “This is how we compete on a global scale, by creating the kinds of places people want to come to,” he said.

Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said a network of rapid bus lines would extend the benefits across the region. A planned network of 12 rapid bus lines on busy urban corridors could ultimately account for a third of Metro Transit’s average weekday ridership.

Construction on the next rapid bus line, the C Line on Penn Avenue, is scheduled to begin in 2018

“If you can’t figure out how to move people and not just vehicles, we’re not going to achieve what we want to achieve in this region,” Lamb said. 


Metro Transit A Line Opening Day

Bus Ridership State Fair

State Fair ridership reaches new high 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, September 11, 2015 11:37:00 AM

Fairgoers board a Metro Transit State Fair Express Bus at the 2015 State Fair.Metro Transit provided 575,348 rides to and from the 2015 Minnesota State Fair — an 8 percent increase over last year and the highest express and regular route ridership ever.

The ride total accounted for 16 percent of State Fair attendance, which reached 1.8 million. The percentage of fairgoers who traveled to the State Fair on Metro Transit was the highest since 2008, when Metro Transit also operated free shuttles to the fairgrounds. 

The highest single-day ridership to this year's State Fair was on Saturday, Aug. 29, when nearly 70,600 rides were provided. 

Almost 90 percent of State Fair ridership was from the 13 free Park & Ride locations where Metro Transit provided State Fair Express Bus Service. Three regular routes — the 3, 61 and 84 — and Route 960 from downtown Minneapolis also served people traveling to the State Fair.

“Riding the bus to the State Fair has become as much a part of the experience as riding the Ferris wheel or eating a Pronto Pup,” General Manager Brian Lamb said. “We thank all those who traveled with us and look forward to continuing the tradition of giving people a fun, safe and convenient way to celebrate the best our state has to offer.”

Metro Transit staff and operators collectively dedicated nearly 15,000 hours to State Fair service during its 12-day run. As always, all operating costs are covered by fares.

The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority reported an 18 percent increase in State Fair ridership, and SouthWest Transit said it, too, set a new record. 

In addition to express and regular route service, Metro Transit staff connected with fairgoers at the Eco Experience building and at a Grandstand booth that focused on a new arterial Bus Rapid Transit line, the A Line. With service on Snelling Avenue, the A Line will connect with the state fairgrounds in 2016.​

    > A city commute in crop art

    > Smaller shelter shown off at State Fair

 

Bus Community Shelters State Fair

Smaller shelter shown off at State Fair 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, September 02, 2015 10:08:00 AM

A student-designed waiting shelter with a reduced footprint and other innovative features is on display at the Minnesota State Fair. A student-designed waiting shelter with a reduced footprint and other innovative features is on display at the Minnesota State Fair. 

The shelter was designed by architecture graduate student Amy Van Gessel as part of a class at the University of Minnesota’s College of Design and School of Architecture. Mechanical engineering graduates Alex Beane and Andrew Frey also assisted in its creation.

Made of steel and recycled plastic, the shelter includes seating, a small tabletop, a bicycle rack and a light that could indicate the next expected bus departure. The shelter is four feet deep and 13-feet long, but can be adapted to site conditions and the expected ridership at a given bus stop.

Van Gessel said the design was partly inspired by a shelter from Paris that serves not just as a waiting area but a gathering space. The shelters include bike-sharing kiosks, lending libraries, tables and a few distinct seating areas.

“In most shelters, the only option is to sit,” Van Gessel said. “This is about providing more personal spaces.”

Fairgoers seeing the shelter outside the Eco Experience building have been struck by the shelter’s bold design but warm up to it on further inspection.

“It looks and feels very different than the traditional shelter, but once that kind of initial confusion wears off and people start kicking the wheels they start opening up and having some good comments and feedback,” said adjunct instructor James Garrett Jr, AIA, who led the design class. 

Garrett Jr. is the owner of St. Paul-based 4RM+ULA, which helped design stations on the METRO Green Line and Target Field Station.

Metro Transit’s Engineering & Facilities department challenged students in Garrett’s class to design a shelter that could be used in areas with space constraints and would be powered without a utility connection. Solar panels atop the shelter provide power for the shelter.

The student’s work and input received at the State Fair will help inform future shelter plans.

Metro Transit is installing 30 shelters at new locations this year through the Bus Stop Improvements Program. Another 60 new shelters are being installed at sites in Minneapolis in a continuing effort to replace advertising shelters that were privately owned and managed until last year.

Enviro-Tech, radiustrack, Mattson Macdonald Young Structural Engineers, Gausman & Moore, Rosco, Lumos and Powerfully Green also partnered on the shelter design project.

Community Light Rail State Fair

A city commute in crop art 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, September 02, 2015 8:00:00 AM

A crop art featuring a Metro Transit light rail train at the 2015 Minnesota State Fair.

Sarah Leismer wanted to bring a little bit of the city to the collection of mostly rural-inspired crop art on display at the Minnesota State Fair.

The result: a detailed representation of a Metro Transit light-rail train passing the fast-developing Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

“I wanted to embrace Minnesota and I thought what better way to do that than to do something from the city that I love,” said Leismer, a frequent transit user who moved from Washington D.C. to an apartment along the METRO Blue Line two years ago.

As an engineer, Leismer was drawn to the cranes and activity unfolding in Downtown East. She and her brother took several photos around the stadium construction site and were most inspired by a photo of the train passing in front of its still-forming frame.

Leismer made a sketch of the photo and then visited the bulk bins at Mississippi Market to make her selections. The crop art includes wild rice, poppy seeds and dyed millet. (“It’s really hard to find red and blue seeds,” Leismer said.)

Judges appreciated the dose of city life, awarding Leismer’s piece a white ribbon (third place) in the dyed or painted category. The piece can be found in the Agriculture Horticulture Building. 

This is actually the second consecutive year Leismer has entered the crop art competition with a transit-inspired piece. In 2014, she created crop art featuring the METRO Green Line and a city skyline that was given a red ribbon (second place).

“It’s a different subject matter than you usually see, so I think people like it,” she said.

    > The best route to the State Fair is on the bus


2014 Crop Art by Sarah Leismer

A crop art featuring a Metro Transit light rail train at the 2014 Minnesota State Fair.

2002 Crop Art by John Levin, Metro Transit's Director of Strategic Initiatives 

Bus Express Bus In the News State Fair

Ridership strong on State Fair's opening weekend 

| Monday, August 26, 2013 12:28:00 PM

Fairgoers poured onto buses before pouring into the Midway over the first weekend of the Minnesota State Fair.

As of Sunday, nearly 80,000 customers had boarded Metro Transit's express State Fair buses or used regular route service to get to the fairgrounds. That’s up about 3 percent compared to the same time period of last year’s State Fair.

In all, about 14.5 percent of fairgoers used Metro Transit to get to the Great Minnesota Get Together over the first four days of the 12-day event.

Express State Fair buses are running from more than a dozen Park & Ride locations across the Twin Cities metro. Parking is free at the sites and a round-trip fare is $5.

A new Park & Ride site added this year is Northstar Commuter Rail's Fridley Station, where more than 1,800 customers had boarded as of Sunday. Customers can incorporate Northstar into their State Fair commute this coming weekend with a Northstar Family pass - an $11 to $20 roundtrip fare good for two adults and up to three children ages 6-17 (children under 5 ride free).  

The most popular express bus location has been the Park & Ride at I-394 & County Road 73, in Minnetonka (pictured above). Nearly 14,000 people boarded at that location over the first four days of the State Fair. The Bloomington Park & Ride, near Mall of America connection between the METRO Red Line and METRO Blue Line, has seen nearly 13,000 customer boardings.

> Metro Transit: The fast and friendly way to the State Fair

> Star Tribune: Transit agencies ready for State Fair

> State Fair Express service

> Regular Route bus service

Bus Express Bus From the GM State Fair

Metro Transit: The fast and friendly way to the State Fair 

| Wednesday, August 14, 2013 11:04:00 AM

From Brian Lamb, Metro Transit General Manager

As customers might imagine, providing service to the Minnesota State Fair is no small undertaking. It’s often said that we run the two largest bus systems in the state during the 12 days of fun that end every Labor Day.

In order to provide safe, reliable and convenient trips to and from the Great Minnesota Get-Together, our preparations begin long before the gates open. This year is no exception. Mechanics, drivers, transit control center staff, street supervisors and other Metro Transit staff have been gearing up for this year’s fair for months. We’ll field more than 60 extra buses during fair weekdays and more than 70 extra buses during weekends. During the fair, staff will put in hundreds of extra hours to ensure we deliver top-notch transportation and customer service.

We put in this extra effort not only because it’s natural to integrate transit into one of the state’s largest events but because we are passionate about contributing to the excitement and tradition that make the fair such a uniquely Minnesotan event.

With nearly 1.8 million annual visitors, the State Fair is a showcase for everything that makes our state great – transit included. For some people, taking the bus to the fair is only a variation on their everyday commute. For others, it will be the first time they’ll step foot on a bus all year. By providing fast, friendly and reliable fair service, we have a great opportunity to showcase our day-to-day service, too. With Metro Transit personnel staffing booths in the Grandstand and the Eco Experience exhibit, we’re easy to find for further one-on-one conversations about how to use the transit system.

Whatever lasting impacts fair service has on commuting habits, transit has long since established itself as the mode of choice for fairgoers looking to avoid the frustrations of traffic and parking (there are just 9,000 parking spots on the fairgrounds). 

Transit became a part of the State Fair experience in the late 1800s when streetcars began ushering thousands of fairgoers to the fairgrounds. By 1907, more than 250,000 people were using streetcars to get to the fair, peaking at more than 24,000 customers an hour during the busiest evenings. A decade later, more than 382,000 people would ride streetcars to the fair.

When streetcars went out of service in the 1950s, buses became the transit mode of choice. Fair service was initially delivered through regular routes, but express buses have been operating from regional Park & Rides for the last two decades – inspired by successful integration Park & Ride lots into bus service for the 1992 Super Bowl at the Metrodome.

As our service continues to evolve, the number of fairgoers using transit keeps growing. Fairgoers took 467,000 rides on State Fair express or regular route bus service last year. The long-term growth in fair ridership reflects our ongoing commitment to improving service. A few highlights of new improvement's we're making this year:

> Customers can order passes online and print them at home or download them to a mobile device. Our staff will have handheld readers at express sites to instantly scan the passes, reducing cash handling and speeding service. Groups that order advance Bus Bargain Tickets online by Aug. 21 receive a healthy discount.

> Families and fairgoers can incorporate Northstar Commuter Rail into their trip plans. A new State Fair Express site at Northstar's Fridley Station provides an easy connection between the rail line and the fairgrounds – especially on weekends when a Northstar Family Pass is the only fare a group needs to get all the way from as far away as St. Cloud to the fairgrounds (connecting to the Big Lake Station using the Northstar Link).

> Route 960 will run every 15 minutes between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Hennepin Avenue through downtown Minneapolis instead of Nicollet Mall, providing more consistent trip times. (Return trips are scheduled to run approximately every 15 minutes from noon until midnight.)

> Maplewood Mall Transit Center and Park & Ride is now open and will provide covered parking for hundreds of fairgoers coming from the east metro.

> The METRO Red Line will serve as a new option from the south metro to connect with State Fair service at the Bloomington site adjacent to Mall of America. 

As always, we budget all State Fair services to be self-sustaining – with fares covering all aspects of the operation. 

Thank you for choosing Metro Transit and enjoy the fair!

> State Fair Express Bus Bargain Tickets

> State Fair Express Bus Service

> Regular-Route Bus Service to the State Fair

> Minnesota State Fair

Related:
> Pioneer Press: State Fair preparing a place for streetcar arch's return trip

Top Left: General Manager Brian Lamb; Middle Right: Streetcars lined up outside the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand around 1910, courtesy Aaron Isaacs; Below Left: Metro Transit's 2012 exhibit, located in the Grandstand. Cover photo courtesy Minnesota State Fair.

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