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Posts in Category: METRO Green Line

METRO Green Line Station Spotlight

At Fairview Avenue Station, 'it's all coming together' 

| Friday, March 07, 2014 12:41:00 PM

Frustrated with the costs of maintaining and owning a vehicle, Heather Erickson sold her car and moved to downtown Minneapolis three years ago. She’s been relying on transit ever since.

This June, she will be among those who can use the METRO Green Line to get to and from work. From Minneapolis, she’ll be able to board at the Nicollet Mall Station and ride to the Green Line’s Fairview Avenue Station, a short walk from her office at Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity’s new headquarters on University Avenue.

Erickson, who oversees Habitat’s AmeriCorps program, also expects to ride the train to visit shops, restaurants and other destinations along University Avenue and downtown St. Paul, exploring parts of the city she might otherwise not visit.

“I always stay in Minneapolis so it will be nice to visit some new places in St. Paul,” Erickson said from her third-floor office overlooking the Green Line. “There is so much wonderful stuff here that I always forget about.”

Erickson will be joined at Fairview Avenue Station by a mix of seniors, workers and residents when the Green Line opens on June 14. The station, at University and Fairview avenues, is surrounded by a mix of small businesses, offices and single-family homes. The surrounding Union Park and Hamline-Midway neighborhoods are also home to a mix of parks and schools, including Macalester College, the University of St. Thomas and Concordia University.

Immediately south of Fairview Avenue Station is Episcopal Homes’ Midway Village senior living complex. Around 280 seniors live in existing housing and another 200 will move into three under-construction buildings by early next year.

“We feel like the luckiest people in the world to be located right at this stop,” said Marvin Plakut, Episcopal Homes’ President/CEO. “For seniors, being able to get somewhere without having to bother anyone else is compelling because it provides a real sense of freedom.”

Besides using the train for shopping, entertainment or appointments, residents at Midway Village will be able to visit Episcopal Homes’ other locations near stations at Lexington Parkway and Dale Street, Plakut said.

North of Fairview Avenue Station is the headquarters for Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota. Around 300 people work at the site and its retail store generates more than 160,000 shopping visits and 75,000 donation visits annually.

Michael Garberich is among those who work at Goodwill and will be able to take the Green Line to work. A technical writer for the non-profit, Garberich has lived car-free for the last two years and is looking forward to adding light rail to his roster of travel options.

“It will be easier to visit friends who live in St. Paul any time of the week or weekend,” he said. “The bus can get crowded so I’m hoping there will be a better place to sit and read.”

Like Habitat for Humanity, Episcopal Homes and Goodwill, officials at College Possible Twin Cities are also eager to see their employees and the students they work with use the Green Line.

College Possible moved into a larger space at 540 Fairview Ave. last August, in part to be near Fairview Avenue Station. AmeriCorps members at the organization assist thousands of students pursuing college education each year.

“The light rail line was an important consideration as we weighed our options when planning our expansion to a new space,” said Bethany Krueger, the associate director for College Possible Twin Cities. “We need to be accessible to our AmeriCorps members and the students they serve.”

The same desires for access led Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative to the Fairview Avenue Station area. Beacon has begun site work on land at University and Prior avenues, just west of the station, where they plan to build 44 studio apartments for homeless youth.  The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation will provide on-site services at the new building, Prior Crossing.

“It (light-rail) will offer excellent access to both St. Paul College as well as U of M and to many jobs up and down the corridor and in both downtowns,” said Kris Berggren, Beacon’s communications specialist.

John Kachel, the owner of Major Tire Co. at University and Fairview, is getting an extra treat out of watching test trains travel the corridor in anticipation of the Green Line’s opening.

Seven years ago, Kachel allowed artists to paint a mural on the side of his building. The mural includes both a light-rail vehicle and streetcar (occupied by Bob Dylan, Captain Kangaroo, Paul Wellstone, Prince and Kachel's two children).

“At the time, I just thought it would be neat to have an old picture since we’ve been here quite some time,” he said. “But it really is all coming together now isn’t it?”

Fairview Avenue Station At a Glance

Connecting bus routes: Route 16, with service every 20 minutes between downtown St. Paul and the University of Minnesota; Route 67 will run between downtown St. Paul and the METRO Blue Line’s Franklin Avenue Station after the Green Line opens; Route 87 with service between Ford Parkway and the Rosedale Transit Center, has stops nearby at University and Prior Avenues.

Public artNancy Blum created glass mosaics featuring elements of the old oak trees that can be found in the surrounding neighborhoods. Learn more

Area landmarks: Episcopal Homes Midway Village, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, Dickerman Park, Iris Park, Merriam Park Recreation Center, Merriam Terrace Park, Four Seasons Elementary School, Aldine Park, HealthEast Midway Clinic, Griggs Midway Building

Bike-ped connections: North Prior Avenue is striped with bike lanes between West Pierce Butler Road and Marshall Avenue. Going east-west, there are bike lanes on Minnehaha Avenue, a half-mile north of University Avenue, and a bike boulevard on Charles Avenue east of North Aldine Street. The Friendly Streets Initiative will be looking at ways of making Fairview Avenue more bike and pedestrian friendly this year.

Neighborhood groups: Hamline-Midway Coalition, Union Park District Council

Bus METRO Green Line Minneapolis Route of the Week St. Paul

Route 30: A new way to work 

| Monday, March 03, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Few of those who work at Access Ability drive themselves to the organization’s Northeast Minneapolis offices. Many come from North Minneapolis by taking a bus downtown and transferring to Route 61, which travels along nearby East Hennepin Avenue.

Their commutes will be quicker and easier after Route 30 begins running March 10. The new route will stop directly in front of Access Ability’s offices on Hoover Street NE as it travels between North Minneapolis and St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood.

“Very few of our people have cars for transportation so this is really going to increase access,” said Linda Cazett, who works in customer service and recruitment for the non-profit, which provides jobs and training for people who need support entering the workforce. “I think a lot of people are going to be very pleased that this bus is something they can catch.”

Providing access to employment was the primary purpose behind the route, funded by a federal grant designed to help people get to work outside the urban core. Even before its inaugural run, employers and community leaders say they believe it will do just that.

Traveling eastbound, Route 30 buses will run through North Minneapolis along West Broadway Avenue and across the Mississippi River. After crossing Central Avenue and through the Beltrami neighborhood, buses loop around the north side of the Quarry Shopping Center before continuing east to the Northeast industrial area.

In St. Paul, buses run along Larpenteur Avenue, Eustis Street and Highway 280 to University Avenue, where the route connects to the METRO Green Line’s Raymond Avenue Station. Route 63Route 67 and Route 87 will also serve Raymond Avenue Station when the Green Line opens June 14.

In addition to the new connections, Route 30 will shorten commutes for those using existing services by providing more direct service and eliminating the need to transfer downtown.

Matt Halley, the executive director of the Cookie Cart, said such a connection is important for those who graduate from the West Broadway Avenue bakery to work elsewhere. Few of the 150 youth who work at Cookie Cart have vehicles but many look for jobs outside the immediate neighborhood.

“There isn’t a lot of jobs right in the North Minneapolis,” Halley said. “But I can think of three or four [former employees] who have left Cookie Cart to get to jobs in the Midway area so a bus that goes over there will be very convenient for them.”

Halley himself may also use the route to get to work. Halley lives in downtown St. Paul and will be able to take the Green Line to the Raymond Avenue Station, transferring to Route 30 instead of coming all the way to downtown Minneapolis and transferring to Route 5.

Blong Yang, who represents North Minneapolis on the Minneapolis City Council, said he’s excited to see another form of transit service on West Broadway Avenue. Besides improving access, he hopes more transit will help ease traffic on the corridor.

“Broadway is a busy, narrow street so anything that adds more traffic is not so great,” Yang said. “A bus line like this is fantastic because it gives people more options.”

Route 30 closely mimics a former bus route that operated until the mid-1990s. The old route, Minneapolis Route 3, ran on West Broadway Avenue between North Memorial Hospital and Industrial Boulevard in Northeast Minneapolis. Electric streetcars began to run on West Broadway Avenue beginning in 1891 and the Broadway Crosstown streetcar operated from 1914 through 1950 between Theodore Wirth Park and Northeast Minneapolis.

Senior Planner John Dillery said he took cues from those earlier services while devising Route 30. He expects the new route to be draw more riders simply because there are more destinations, such as the Quarry Shopping Center. The Green Line and connecting bus routes should also make Route 30 an attractive option.

“It’s easy to start picturing all sorts of new connections,” Dillery said. “There’s a whole mix of possibilities here."

Route 30 At a Glance

Type: Urban Local

ServiceRoute 30 buses will run between north Minneapolis and St. Paul’s St. Anthony Park neighborhood. Traveling east, buses will run from Golden Valley Road and Xerxes Avenue and along West Broadway Avenue. After crossing the Mississippi River and Central Avenue, the route travels through the Beltrami neighborhood and loops around the north side of The Quarry Shopping Center, one of the largest retail areas in Minneapolis. Buses continue east through an industrial area and serve several large employers, including Honeywell and UPS. In St. Paul, buses run on Larpenteur Avenue, Eustis Street and Highway 280 to University Avenue. On the eastern end, the route connects with the METRO Green Line's Raymond Avenue Station and ends at the intersection of University Avenue and Vandalia Street. Buses will run approximately every 30 minutes during rush hours and midday and every 30 to 60 minutes in the evening. Service runs from 5 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday.

Route Length: Approximately 9 miles

Stops: 49 eastbound, 51 westbound

Vehicles: 40-foot standard buses

Ridership: Projected 700 passengers per day

History: The first horse-drawn streetcars appeared on West Broadway Avenue in 1883. Electric streetcars were introduced in 1891. The Broadway Crosstown streetcar line between Robbinsdale on the west to Stinson Avenue on the east. Buses replaced streetcars in the corridor in 1950. Route 30 partly mimics a bus route that replaced streetcar service, Route 3, with service from North Memorial Hospital in Golden Valley to Broadway and Industrial Boulevard, in northeast Minneapolis. The route was eliminated in the late-1980s.

Future: Route 30 was created through a federal grant designed to connect people to jobs in outlying areas. Service will be evaluated after one year of service. West Broadway Avenue has also been identified as a potential Bus Rapid Transit corridor. The service would largely follow the path of Route 14 from Robbinsdale to downtown Minneapolis.

For additional photos in full resolution, view the Route 30 set on Flickr.

Bus Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Rider Information

Just the facts 

| Friday, February 28, 2014 9:59:00 AM

It can be difficult to grasp the scale of Metro Transit's operations.

The picture becomes a bit clearer in a new Fact Book that provides a snapshot of all the services Metro Transit provides. The recently-released 2013 Fact Book covers the big numbers -- 81.4 million rides, 128 bus routes, 74 Park & Rides -- as well as plenty of other lesser-known details. Here are just a couple 2013 facts included in the latest edition:

    > There were 1,498 bus drivers and 78 light-rail operators at the end of 2013.

    > Customer Advocates provided 492 "how to ride" presentations to introduce people to Metro Transit's services in 2013.

    > The Lost & Found received 22,274 unique items and customers claimed nearly a quarter of these items.

    > Real-time NexTrip departure information was requested around 49.2 million times -- a new annual record.

    > Metro Transit's fleet includes 570 40-foot diesel buses, 169 60-foot articulated buses, 132 hybrid-electric buses and 41 coach buses.

The Fact Book also highlights the growth occurring ahead of the METRO Green Line's June 2014 opening.

At the end of last year, 31 new Siemens light-rail vehicles had been received to support operations on the Green and Blue Lines. Additional bus and light-rail operators have also been hired. The total number of vehicle in-service hours -- a measure of how much time buses spend on the road -- also grew to nearly 2.29 million hours, an increase of more than 61,000 hours. The service hours came through improved bus service on routes connecting to the Green Line, a trend that will continue this year.

Explore the numbers in full at metrotransit.org/facts.

In the News METRO Green Line St. Paul

President Obama gets Green Line's first ticket 

| Thursday, February 27, 2014 12:00:00 AM

President Barack Obama received the first "honorary" ticket on the METRO Green Line during his visit to St. Paul on Wednesday.

The ticket, which Obama signed and returned, was just one highlight of his stop at the Green Line's new Operations and Maintenance Facility in Lowertown, where a majority of the 200 Green Line operators and maintenance staff will be located. The facility will also be used to clean, store and inspect light-rail trains.

Obama met with several Metro Transit employees working on the Green Line, including Mark Fuhrmann, Metro Transit's deputy general manager and program director for New Starts rail projects in the Twin Cities region. Obama also stepped inside the cab of a rail car with Rick Carey, assistant director of rail vehicle maintenance, and was introduced to electro-mechanic Brooks Letourneau and manager of rail vehicle maintenance Charles "Chuck" Bragg.

"I just had a chance to take a look at some of those spiffy new trains," Obama said speaking at the Union Depot following this stop at the OMF. "They are nice. And they’re energy efficient. They’re going to be reliable. You can get from one downtown to the other in a little over 30 minutes instead of when it’s snowing being in traffic for two hours."

Operators began training on the METRO Green Line earlier this week and the line will open to the public on June 14.

Obama used his appearance at the Union Depot to call for increased spending on transportation and transit. Obama also announced $600 million in funding for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, which helped fund the Union Depot's renovation. Following decades of vacancy, the 88-year-old Union Depot was restored and re-opened in December 2012 as a hub for Metro Transit, inter-city buses and passenger rail. The Green Line's Union Depot Station, the line's eastern-most stop, is located immediately north of the Union Depot.

The Green Line was funded in part by the first federal grant executed in Obama's administration.

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx also visited St. Paul, touting the Green Line's economic benefits. The project has “stimulated a surge in housing and retail development in St. Paul, adding jobs and economic growth to the direct transportation benefits," Foxx said. Around 5,500 construction jobs have been created through the Green Line since 2010. An estimated $1.8 billion in development has also occurred along the corridor.

Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb attended the speech along with Metropolitan Council Chair Sue Haigh and other Metro Transit employees. Lamb said Obama's visit is a testament to how much progress transit has made in recent years.

"We are in the midst of one of the most transformative years in Metro Transit's history," Lamb said. "The President's appearance underscores the hard work we're doing and the importance of creating a 21st Century transportation network that provides access to all."

See photos from Obama's visit to the Union Depot on Metro Transit's Flickr page here.

    > White House Blog: President Obama lays out new plan for upgrading our transportation infrastructure

    > Video: President Obama speaks on investing in infrastructure

    > U.S. DOT: President Obama puts a TIGER in transportation's tank

    > Chris Coleman: Grateful for partnership with Obama administration

    > Pioneer Press: Obama touts $302B transportation plan in St. Paul speech

    > Star Tribune: Obama unveils $300 billion transportation infrastructure plan

    > WCCO: Obama visits St. Paul's restored Union Depot

    > CNN: Obama pushes infrastructure investment during Minnesota trip

Bus Express Bus METRO Green Line Minneapolis Route of the Week St. Paul

Route 94: Saving time and money between the Twin Cities 

| Friday, February 14, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Greg Ruhland boarded Route 94, took a seat near the front of the bus and pulled out his cell phone. En route to St. Paul, he paid a few bills online and placed an order for grocery delivery.

The ability to catch up on his household chores is among the reasons the Minneapolis resident has been riding the express bus to work every weekday since 2009.

“I’m able to get all the details of home life done on the bus, which I’d never be able to do if I were driving,” said Ruhland, who works at the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s offices near the State Capitol.

Ruhland’s experience was typical of those recently aboard Route 94, which travels between downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis on Interstate 94. Besides catching up on chores, Route 94 customers said they use their time on the bus to read, listen to music or simply relax as they started or ended their days.

Elias Kehr, who began using Route 94 last October, is among those who enjoy the free time found while riding the bus. Kehr takes Route 94 from Minneapolis to his job as a math tutor in St. Paul each weekday, spending his time on the bus reading and preparing for the day.

“I find that driving in the morning is just a recipe for frustration,” Kehr said. “This is much more relaxing and productive.”

South Minneapolis resident Brent Dahlen, who has used transit for the last 15 years, also finds his trips to and from work relaxing. Dahlen walks from his home to the METRO Blue Line’s 38th Street Station, rides the train downtown and then catches Route 94 to St. Paul. During rush hour, buses and trains come frequently enough that Dahlen rarely consults a schedule.

“I just show up and trust that a bus will be there,” he said.

Westbound commuters have also come to trust Route 94 as a reliable, convenient alternative to battling traffic on I-94.

The distinction between driving and riding the bus becomes especially apparent when there is bad weather and congestion. Between downtown St. Paul and Highway 280, Route 94 buses can use bus-only shoulders to bypass congestion when it’s safe to do so. Entering and exiting I-94, Route 94 buses also use ramp meter bypasses.

“When traffic comes to a complete stop, we get on the shoulder and it’s like we’re in a different time zone,” said St. Paul resident Yeon Jo, who has used Route 94 for the last decade. “You could spend half your life in a car. The less time doing that, the more time you have just to enjoy life.”

Another perk: cost savings.

John Brentnall, who lives in St. Paul and works at Wells Fargo in downtown Minneapolis, began using transit four years ago after doing some simple math. Brentnall puts pre-tax dollars towards an employer-sponsored Metropass, bringing the cost of his commute to around $50 a month, about the same cost of a fill-up at the gas station.

“I really appreciate the value this provides,” Brentnall said. “From a value standpoint, you really can’t beat the price.”

Felicia Lewis can relate. Without a vehicle, Lewis relies on routes 94 and 535 to get to and from her job in Bloomington each weekday. She also uses transit to run errands around St. Paul. “Whenever I catch a cab its $50. That’s a whole month’s bus fare,” she said.

Lewis lives in St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood, just four blocks from the METRO Green Line’s Dale Street Station. When the Green Line opens on June 14, she said she’ll continue riding Route 94 while working in trips on the train whenever it’s more convenient to do so.

Route 94 will no longer travel to the State Capitol when the Green Line opens, so Summit-University resident Linda McBrayer will be moving from the bus to the train this summer. McBrayer now takes Route 21 to downtown St. Paul and transfers to routes 16, 50 or 94 to get to her job near the State Capitol. “I have a lot of options,” McBrayer said. “And if I’m going to Minneapolis, I know I’ll take the train.”

As commuters mix the Green Line into their commutes, Route 94 will continue to provide express service between St. Paul and Minneapolis throughout peak periods and midday. Direct trips between Minneapolis and St. Paul will run every seven to 15 minutes during peak hours and every half hour midday.

Route 94 At a Glance

Type: Express

ServiceRoute 94 travels between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul on Interstate 94. Select trips stop at I-94 and Snelling Avenue to serve St. Paul’s Midway area. Traveling east from Minneapolis, buses run from the Ramp B/5th Street Transit Center down 6th Street North to I-94. In St. Paul, Route 94 buses stop at University Avenue and Rice Street, serving the State Capitol complex before entering downtown via Cedar Street. Select trips cross the Robert Street bridge to Fillmore Avenue, where large offices are located. Certain westbound trips also serve Huron Station, located at I-94 and Huron Boulevard, to connect with Route 50 and reach the University of Minnesota. On weekdays, Route 94 buses operate between approximately 5 a.m. and 1 a.m. with service every five to 10 minutes during rush hour, every 15 minutes midday and every half hour in the evening. Service is available every half hour on Saturdays and every 30 to 60 minutes on Sundays.

Route Length: Approximately 13 miles

Stops: 25 eastbound; 33 westbound

Vehicles: 40-foot standard buses and 60-foot articulated buses

Ridership: More than 1.3 million rides in 2013, with an average of around 3,600 customers per day

History: Route 94 began in 1976, providing weekday service between Minneapolis and St. Paul between roughly 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Future: When the METRO Green Line opens June 14, Route 94 will operate each weekday from approximately 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Trips will no longer stop at Snelling Avenue but run non-stop between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Peak hour service will run every seven to 15 minutes and midday trips will operate every half-hour. All night and weekend trips will be replaced by Green Line rail service. In St. Paul, Route 94 buses will no longer serve the State Capitol and will be re-routed from Cedar and Minnesota to 5th Street (eastbound) and 6th Street (westbound), with trips beginning and ending at the Union Depot. In downtown Minneapolis, westbound Route 94 buses will be re-routed from Fourth Street to Seventh Street. See complete details here.

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