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Posts in Category: METRO Green Line

METRO Green Line Ridership

Green Line continues to see record-breaking ridership 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, November 16, 2018 12:51:00 PM

The Green Line had its busiest month ever in October, keeping the light rail line on pace to set another annual ridership record.

More than 1.4 million rides were taken last month, topping the previous high, set in September, by more than 127,000 rides. October's average weekday ridership was just over 49,000 rides. 

Nearly 11.6 million Green Line rides have been taken through the end of October, a 4.5 percent increase compared to the same time last year. Except for February, monthly ridership records have been set every month this year on the Green Line.

Blue Line ridership has increased nearly 4 percent through the end of October, to nearly 9.4 million rides.

The Blue and Green lines each saw record ridership in 2017.

Light rail ridership has increased in recent months due to special events and ongoing construction on Interstate 35W, which has led more people to use the Blue Line.

A popular pass program also reached a new milestone last month. Metropass customers took nearly 1.2 million rides in October, which is believed to be the highest monthly total since the program began 20 years ago.

METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Northstar

Fuhrmann leaves passenger rail legacy for generations to come 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, August 09, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Decades from now, people taking trains to college classes, a hospital shift or office job, to restaurants and sporting venues, or to the airport won’t have a clue they have Mark Fuhrmann to thank.

Even today, many have not heard of Fuhrmann—and that’s by his design. Metro Transit’s director of light rail and commuter rail projects has deliberately avoided public recognition.

He carefully stood behind office holders at public events and ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the METRO Blue Line in 2004, Northstar commuter rail in 2009 and Green Line in 2014. (This wasn’t difficult, given his modest height, or his trim figure maintained by 4 a.m. daily runs in all kinds of weather.) If politicians insisted that Fuhrmann join them in the foreground for a photo-op, he would politely oblige but later direct staff to crop him out of the frame.

But leaders at Metro Transit and Metropolitan Council recognize Fuhrmann as the person responsible for the region’s 62 miles of passenger rail (40 miles for Northstar and 22 for LRT). Upon hearing that Fuhrmann is retiring on Aug. 14 after serving the region for 25 years, their praise was universal.

“I can’t imagine how we would have built the Blue Line, Green Line and Northstar commuter rail without Mark’s dogged determination, intelligence and extraordinary professionalism,” said Susan Haigh, who was Council chair when the Green Line opened, and when preliminary engineering started on Southwest LRT (the Green Line extension). “He persevered through the most challenging political conversations imaginable and was always been a beacon of integrity for me.”

Finest of public servants’

“I have had the opportunity to work with many fine public servants in my career, and Mark Fuhrmann is simply the best of the best,” Haigh said. “Mark is able to unravel complex engineering issues and identify the pros and cons of strategic choices for decision makers. He is brilliant, prepared, thoughtful, determined and always respectful to his colleagues. Our rail lines have carried millions of passengers thanks to Mark Fuhrmann. These extraordinary investments have transformed the communities they serve and our entire region.”

Peter Bell, who was Council chair during the Green Line’s engineering and early construction phases, relied on Fuhrmann’s judgment and integrity as they moved the project forward.

“Honest, straight shooting and unflappable is how I would describe Mark,” Bell said. “He was very calm under intense pressure because he always had his facts right. I was always amazed at how people on all sides of the transit issue might disagree with one of our conclusions but never the facts that Mark presented.”

Former Council Regional Administrator Pat Born said Fuhrmann’s mark on the region will last at least a century. “The major transit investments Mark has led have already moved millions of riders to school, work and fun places. They have created thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment,” Born said.

Since the inception of the two LRT lines and Northstar, Metro Transit has served more than 190 million passengers on its rails. At last count earlier this year, more than $8 billion in development investment has occurred or is planned on the Blue and Green lines and their planned extensions to the southwest and northwest. The projects have so transformed the region and communities they serve that as municipalities refresh their comprehensive plans this year, many seek to focus development and density around existing and future transit stations.

Encyclopedic memory, focus on quality and ethics

The public often saw Fuhrmann’s encyclopedic memory for events, dates and financial information on display at public meetings, but he has another side that is less known, Born said.

“Mark’s quiet dignity and ferocious stands for quality and ethics are often overlooked. Building transit projects in the Twin Cities has meant facing huge obstacles and dealing with angry and often powerful people. Mark respected all of them but kept his head down and pushed forward,” Born said.

Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb, Fuhrmann’s supervisor, announced Fuhrmann’s retirement to staff “with great appreciation – and a healthy dose of sadness.”

“With his departure, he hands off projects that are ready to enter construction. Both Blue and Green Line extensions are rated by the Federal Transit Administration as “medium high” and deserve to secure Full Funding Grant Agreements soon. He has expertly guided those projects to their current point,” Lamb said.

Career path in public transit led him to nation’s capital, back home

Fuhrmann is fond of saying he was born at the former Midway Hospital on the Green Line and grew up in northern Golden Valley “in the shadow of Theodore Wirth Park,” which the Blue Line extension will bisect for part of its 13.5 miles from Target Field to Brooklyn Park. He attended Robbinsdale High School and earned his undergraduate degree in urban geography from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

In his first foray into public service, Fuhrmann interned in the summer of 1981 with the Metropolitan Parks and Open Space Commission. He supported the operations and maintenance task force.

“One of the recommendations we came up with was to seek permission from the Legislature to levy a candy tax. It didn’t get any traction,” Fuhrmann recalled, with a smile.

After finishing his graduate studies in planning at the University of Minnesota, Fuhrmann worked for a private bus company. He then moved to Washington, D.C., to work on the build-out of the Metro system from 1985 to 1993. His assignment was in northern Virginia, where he worked on the opening of three Metro extensions and the introduction of the first two commuter rail lines in northern Virginia, the Virginia Railway Express. After eight years, he returned to Minnesota to work for the Metropolitan Council’s transportation division.

It was an opportunity to come back home and be closer to family while working in his area of professional practice.

“Initially, rail discussions were not positive,” Fuhrmann noted, “but then in 1998 Governor Arne Carlson and the Legislature decided to approve the first installment of $40 million in funding for Hiawatha.” Fuhrmann eventually became project director of the METRO Blue and Green Lines and Northstar Commuter Rail Line when they were in engineering and under construction. The Minnesota Public Transit Association named him the state’s 2014 Transit Professional of the Year.

“Twenty years later, we have three rail lines in revenue service that have served over 190 million passengers, and the two LRT extensions are well positioned to secure federal funding and go into construction soon,” Fuhrmann said.

Fuhrmann recalls a career highlight of giving President Barack Obama and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx a tour of the Green Line’s operations and maintenance facility on Feb. 26, 2014. “I was deeply honored to be asked to host the president and secretary. I still pinch myself that that actually happened.”

Another highlight was giving Gov. Jesse Ventura a tour of the Hiawatha LRT Project Office in 2001, the first full year of construction. “Contrary to his public persona, he was a very thoughtful and curious leader who wanted to know more about the project and when we were going to open it.”  

Next stop: Northern Indiana rail projects with HDR Engineering

Although Fuhrmann officially is retiring, he starts a second career in August. His new title is associate vice president for HDR Engineering. He will serve as HDR’s program director for New Starts projects for the Northern Indiana Commuter Transit District (NICTD), which operates commuter rail service between South Bend, Ind., and Millennium Station in downtown Chicago.

With an average weekday ridership of about 11,500 passengers, NICTD is the only interurban electrified line that continues in operation in the United States. Service began in 1908. NICTD has two New Starts projects that Fuhrmann will shepherd from their offices in Chesterton, Ind. One is West Lake, a nine-mile southerly extension of the South Shore Line between Hammond and Dyer, Ind., in western Lake County. The second one is the Double Track Project, which will install a double track where currently only a single track lies between Gary and Michigan City. Trains traveling in opposite directions will no longer need to take turns.

“I recognized at the Council’s 50th anniversary celebration earlier this year that 2018 was my 25th year anniversary with the Council,” Fuhrmann said. “I have seen a lot of great things for the last 25 years of the Council’s existence. It made me reflect maybe there are some new challenges and opportunities out there that I should explore.”

“The thing that makes me sad is I am going to miss the dedication of all my colleagues and the friendship of working with them all these years as we all worked with one purpose in mind: to build out the METRO system here in the Twin Cities,” he said.

Fuhrmann had some words of wisdom for staff as he leaves. “Communicate, collaborate and coordinate with all the stakeholders – political, community and staff,” he said.

Community METRO Green Line On the METRO

Model Cities creates a new model near Victoria Street Station 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, June 07, 2018 12:22:00 PM

Desean Isaac was among the first to move in when Model Cities opened the doors to its new mixed-use building in late 2017.

One of the main appeals: The Green Line’s Victoria Street Station is just steps from the building’s door, allowing Isaac to get to church, medical appointments and the grocery store without needing to own a vehicle.

“Wherever I need to go, most likely I end up catching the train,” said Isaac, whose apartment window overlooks University Avenue.

Providing the kind of convenient access that Isaac and other building residents enjoy is among several reasons the St. Paul-based non-profit sought to reinvest in the property it’s long inhabited.

Organization leaders also saw an opportunity to create a place where it could not only carry out its mission but put it into practice. Model Cities has served St. Paul for the past 50 years and has focused in recent years on helping residents access safe and affordable housing, among other services.

“With the addition of light rail, we knew more people would be coming through and that we needed to give them a reason to get off,” said Kizzy Downie, who has worked at Model Cities for the past 12 years and will become its CEO later this summer. “This is that reason.”

Today, what’s known as the BROWNstone building includes 35 apartments, commercial space and offices for Model Cities’ 21 employees. 

Model Cities was able to tear down and rebuild on the property with support from several organizations, including the Metropolitan Council. The support has also helped the organization lower rental costs for residents and business owners.

With vintage barber chairs, couches and flat screen TVs, Privilege Barber Lounge was the first business to move into the new building.

Pausing between haircuts, owner Brandon Cole said he jumped on the opportunity to set up shop in the neighborhood he grew up in, and to enjoy the exposure that would come from being on University Avenue.

“So far, it’s been working out really well,” he said. “People are seeing the business and I’m getting new and diverse clientele.”

A new deli will soon move into the building, bringing life to a small courtyard that was also incorporated into the development. Model Cities hopes to attract a restaurateur and a few other businesses in the future.

While the building addresses the organization and the community’s future needs, it also pays homage to its past.

A space on the first floor, The Reading Room at BROWNstone, was created to showcase and celebrate the history of Pullman porters and other African American railroad workers who lived in the neighborhood. Porters fought for labor and civil rights, and the room’s effects draw a connection between that struggle and the present day.

“Their descendants are here but there really wasn’t really an obvious connection to that history,” Downie said.

In the future, Model Cities hopes to use the space for programs and to invite quiet reflection.

The organization also hopes the stake it’s planted the community will lead others to join in the revitalization effort. Nearby, plans to restore the historic Victoria Theater and turn it into a community arts center are moving forward.

“As an organization that’s been in this neighborhood for over 50 years, we really felt it was our duty to use this opportunity and make an investment that was beneficial long term,” Downie said. “I think we’ve done that.”

Visit BROWNstone's Reading Room on June 14

Model Cities is hosting artists Foster Willey and Guy Willey, who contributed artwork for the Green Line's Victoria Street Station, on Thursday, June 14, in The Reading Room. The event will feature the sculpted portraits of Rondo residents that were created for the Victoria Street Station. The event runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., with an artist presentation at 6 p.m. The Reading Room is in the first floor of Model Cities' BROWNstone building, 839 University Ave.

Bus In the News Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line

Super Bowl festivities boost ridership 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, March 09, 2018 2:30:00 PM

Super Bowl festivities provided a notable ridership boost earlier this year.  

The Green and Blue lines and the Northstar Commuter Rail Line each saw their highest-ever January ridership totals and nearly 210,000 additional rides were taken over more than a week’s worth of Super Bowl events.

Super Bowl festivities began on Friday, Jan. 26 and continued through gameday, Sunday, Feb. 4. Ridership on those dates increased about 12 percent measured against comparable dates.

Ridership was boosted in part thanks to extra service that was offered to Super Bowl festivities. More than 17,500 rides were provided to and from downtown Minneapolis from area Park & Rides where special express bus trips were offered. 

Fares collected during the 10-day period offset the cost of the extra service that was provided.

In all, nearly 6.4 million rides were provided in January, including more than 1 million Green Line rides, nearly 823,000 Blue Line rides and close to 67,000 Northstar rides.

“Going into the Super Bowl, we felt like the months of preparation had us ready to show the world how a first-class transit system contributes to the success of this international spectacle,” said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb. “Looking back, we proved to hundreds of thousands of fans, visitors and everyday riders that our system and employees were more than a contribution. We were essential to the success of our region during all of Super Bowl 52’s events.”

> WCCO: Inside Metro Transit's unprecedented Super Bowl plan

Bus In the News Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line

Rail lines set records as Metro Transit ridership tops 81.9 million in 2017 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, January 25, 2018 3:00:00 PM

A record number of light rail and commuter rail rides were taken in 2017 as Metro Transit’s annual ridership topped 81.9 million. 

Metro Transit has provided more than 80 million rides in each of the past seven years, sustaining the highest ridership the agency has seen in three decades. Average weekday ridership in 2017 was 264,347. 

“Last year’s strong ridership underscores just how many people across the region are relying on us to get them safely to and from work, school and many other destinations,” Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said. “On behalf of everyone at Metro Transit, I’d like to thank all those who are placing their confidence in us and making transit a part of their lives.”

The 2017 ridership total includes a record 13.1 million rides on the METRO Green Line, which has seen ridership grow every year since its 2014 opening and had its highest single-day ridership ever on Aug. 31, 2017. Nearly 10.7 million rides were taken on the Blue Line, breaking the previous record set in 2015. 

Ridership on the Green Line increased about 3.5 percent compared to 2016, while Blue Line ridership increased nearly 4 percent. 

Nearly 794,000 rides were provided on the Northstar Commuter Rail Line, a nearly 12 percent increase over 2016. Last year’s Northstar ridership broke a record set in 2013. 

Metropolitan Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff announced the ridership records in her State of the Region address on Thursday

“Congratulations and thank you to all our Metro Transit employees who play a role in providing a service that people across this region use in record numbers. This is yet another reminder that we do truly have one of the best transit systems in the nation,” said Chair Tchourumoff.

“2017 was a trifecta for our rail lines in the metro,” Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said. “With gas prices hovering at $2.50 per gallon, all three of our rail lines – Green, Blue, and Northstar – set ridership records. These three rail lines now constitute 31 percent of all rides on Metro Transit. This is another piece of strong evidence that rail investment is good for the Twin Cities.”

Systemwide, ridership remained essentially flat compared to 2016. 

Metro Transit provided more than 57.3 million bus rides in 2017, including more than 1.5 million rides on the A Line. Average weekday ridership in the A Line corridor has increased by about one-third since the rapid bus line opened. 

“The A Line is a prime example of the investments this region needs,” said B Kyle, president & CEO of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. “Bus rapid transit is an integral part of the system, which we know the vast majority of people are using to get to work or school. Every day I hear from our business members how critical transit investments are to their ability to attract and retain talent.”

“Our region needs to keep the momentum we’re seeing with these ridership records,” said Jonathan Weinhagen, president & CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce. “Continuing to maintain and improve our regional system will pay huge dividends for everyone, not just the business community. We’ve reached a tipping point where maintaining the status quo means we’re falling behind our peer regions. It’s time to double down on transit investment.”

Total bus ridership declined about two percent. The decline mirrors a national trend attributed in part to low gas prices. Ridership losses were greatest during off-peak hours and on routes that were detoured off Nicollet Mall during construction. 

  2017 Ridership 2017 Average Weekday Ridership

Bus

55,751,961

184,736

Green Line

13,142,163

40,554

Blue Line

10,668,832

31,510

A Line

1,570,670

4,727

Northstar

793,796

2,819

Total

81,927,422

264,347

 

Learn more about Metro Transit's 2017 accomplishments

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