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Posts in Category: METRO Green Line

METRO Green Line University of Minnesota

East Bank Station tops 1 million boardings 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, April 23, 2015 12:00:00 AM

The METRO Green Line's East Bank Station. Without a vehicle, University of Minnesota senior Kelsey Decker relies on transit to get to school, work and go shopping. One of her primary boarding locations: the METRO Green Line’s East Bank Station, situated at the heart of the U of M campus.

Decker was at the station this week as she prepared to board a westbound train that would take her to downtown Minneapolis, where she could transfer to the Blue Line en route to her job at Ikea in Bloomington. Decker estimates she’s at the station at least four times a week.

“I’ve been using the Green Line pretty much since the day it opened,” Decker said. “It’s very convenient and comfortable.”

Riders like Decker have made East Bank Station the most popular boarding location on the Green Line. In March, it became the first of the Green Line’s 23 stations to top 1 million boardings since service began in June 2014. Year-to-date, there have been an average of 4,468 weekday boardings at East Bank Station.

“Being in the middle of campus and near several major destinations, we knew East Bank Station would be a popular boarding location,” Director of Light Rail Brian Funk said. “We’re excited to see students and others using the Green Line as part of their daily travels.”

East Bank Station’s popularity is just one sign that the U of M has fully-embraced the Green Line. More than 16,000 U-Passes, which provide unlimited rides for a per-semester fee, have been sold this spring semester.

Combined, the three stations that serve the U of M campus – Stadium Village, East Bank and West Bank – have seen nearly 2 million total boardings. That represents about 22 percent of the 9.1 million total rides the Green Line has seen since service began.

Like Decker, U of M student Ian Rapson is also at East Bank Station several times a week. Rapson rides the Green Line between campus and Nicollet Mall Station (the Green Line's second-busies station), where he transfers to a Route 10 bus that delivers him to and from him home in Northeast Minneapolis.

“I do a lot of biking, but this is just as convenient and I like that can read when I take transit,” Rapson said.

    > Good Question: How are light rail rides counted?

    > Learn more about East Bank Station's public art

    > University of Minnesota Transit Service

    > Washington Avenue Transit/Pedestrian Mall

Good Question METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Ridership

Good Question: How are light-rail rides counted? 

| Wednesday, January 21, 2015 1:25:00 PM

With tens of thousands of customers boarding light-rail trains on the METRO Green and Blue lines every day, it’s reasonable to wonder just how Metro Transit keeps track of all those rides.

The answer: Automatic Passenger Counters, or APCs.

Commonly used by transit agencies to track passenger boardings, APCs rely on advanced, overhead sensors inside the train to measure movements into and out of light-rail cars.  

Metro Transit began installing APC technology on its newest Siemens trains last year and the technology will be on all 59 of these trains by the end of the year. Since some Siemens trains and the older Bombardier trains don’t yet have verified APC technology, numbers from APC-equipped trains are used to estimate total ridership. (The average number of rides counted on an APC-equipped train is multiplied by the average number of cars that ran on each trip for the day, and by the total number of trips on that day.) 

Before Metro Transit used APCs, light rail ridership estimates were based on manual counts. APC technology has evolved since the Blue Line’s opening a decade ago and is more commonly used now because data can be collected more efficiently and is more quickly available.

While APCs are now being used, manual counts will continue to play a role in calculating ridership. Before a train with an APC is used in ridership calculations, its results are compared to manual counts to verify that they are consistent. Testing done by internal auditors in 2014 found the manual and APC counts were virtually identical.

Fare payments are not used to track light-rail ridership because not all valid fare payments are electronically recorded. Many customers – more than 70,000 at the end of 2014 – use pre-paid fare cards like Metropass, College Pass, Student Pass and U-Pass. Though these customers are asked to swipe their cards at fare readers, that doesn’t always happen. Transfer slips that cash-paying customers receive on the bus are also not recorded by ticket validators on light-rail platforms.

Still, the number of non-fare paying customers on light rail remains low. In 2014, Metro Transit police officers conducted more than 1.4 million fare inspections on the Green and Blue Lines and the compliance rate on each line was in excess of 99 percent.

Fare payments are used to track bus ridership, since a customer must pay each time they board (free rides provided to eligible customers or for marketing purposes are manually recorded). Northstar ridership is also based on fare payments, since nearly all customers must make an electronic payment before boarding.

Like the METRO Red Line, future Bus Rapid Transit lines like the A Line and Orange Line will use APCs to count ridership. APCs are used on BRT because these lines will also use off-board fare payment technology.

    > The proof is in the payment                                                                                

    > Good Question: Why offer transfers?

Have a “Good Question” that you want answered? Email it to goodquestion@metrotransit.org.

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. 

Community METRO Green Line Minneapolis Safety St. Paul University of Minnesota

Strong ridership defines first six months of METRO Green Line service 

| Tuesday, December 16, 2014 2:41:00 PM

There were around 6 million rides on the METRO Green Line during its first six months of service.Strong and growing ridership is the hallmark of the METRO Green Line’s first six-months of operation.

Customers have taken about 6 million rides since service began on June 14, including more than 1 million rides in both September and October. Average weekday ridership in November was 36,240, near the 2030 projection of 41,000 rides. 

“The community response to the Green Line is even better than we imagined,” Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said. “In less than one year of operation, the Green Line has clearly had a major impact on the way people get around, interact with and enjoy the Twin Cities.”  

Combined ridership on the Green Line and routes 16 and 94, which also serve the Central Corridor, has nearly doubled from last year. The Green Line replaced limited-stop Route 50 that ran on University Avenue and service was enhanced on several routes that connect with Green Line stations.

The most popular stops have been East Bank Station, in the center of the University of Minnesota campus, and Nicollet Mall Station in downtown Minneapolis. Stadium Village Station, near TCF Bank Stadium, has also become a hub of activity on gamedays. Around 25 percent of Minnesota Vikings fans took the Green Line to and from the game this season, double the ridership from previous years.

Combined with other rail and bus service, the Green Line is expected to drive Metro Transit’s total year-end ridership to around 84 million, the highest it has been since 1981.

In addition to strong ridership, the first six months of Green Line service are noteworthy for the focus on public safety, enhanced performance and community development.  

Metro Transit continued to educate pedestrians, motorists and others about light rail safety through presentations and a robust marketing campaign, including a billboard on University Avenue.

Transit Police hired 22 new officers to patrol the Green Line and the neighborhoods it serves. Transit Police say there has been no significant change in crime along the corridor since the Green Line opened.

Light-rail operations have also improved through coordination with local partners. Technology called predictive priority has been successfully implemented at 18 low-volume intersections along the Green Line corridor. Predictive priority gives trains their best chance of getting a green light, reducing the amount of time trains spend waiting at signalized intersections.

Transit-oriented development has also continued along the corridor.

Project for Pride in Living started construction in August on its 108-unit Hamline Station Project, which replaces a vacant auto dealership immediately north of the Hamline Avenue Station. On Dec. 19, Surly Brewing Co. will open its new beer hall just east of the Prospect Park Station.

In November, seniors began moving into The Terrace at Iris Park at Episcopal Homes’ new Midway Village development immediately south of the Fairview Avenue Station. In December, move-ins began at Midway Pointe, the second of three new residences at Midway Village. The third residence, Episcopal Church Home – The Gardens, will be ready for occupancy in January 2015.

Residents of the entire campus began using light-rail as soon as it opened, CEO Marvin Plakut said.

“Interest in our community increased even before the Green Line’s opening and continues to grow now that the service is up and running,” Plakut said. “People are excited by the freedom that waits right outside their door. Episcopal Homes is the only senior community that can offer it.”

    > New York Times: Despite cheaper gas, public transit ridership is up 

    > Explore the Twin Cities using our Green Line A to Z guide

    > Green Line tops 1 million rides, again

Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Safety

Light-rail vehicles ready for all seasons 

| Wednesday, November 19, 2014 1:10:00 PM

Electro mechanical technicians Tom Astedt and Chris Kostohris install ice cutters on a light-rail vehicle.Metro Transit’s light-rail vehicles are becoming even more weather-hardened.

Pantographs that are specially-equipped to cut through ice on overhead wires are being installed on all 27 Bombardier light-rail vehicles and 32 of the newer Siemens light-rail vehicles to improve winter weather service on the METRO Blue and Green lines.

Mounted atop each light rail vehicle, pantographs transfer energy from the overhead wires to the train. The connection between the pantograph and the overhead wire, also known as catenary, is made by a long metal strip. To reduce wear on the overhead wire, the carbon strips have a smooth surface. But that smoothness is less effective at cutting through ice so textured, copper strips are used whenever severe weather threatens.

In past seasons, rail vehicle maintenance staff has replaced the strips each time ice was in the forecast. Because that is a labor intensive and time consuming process, trains are being equipped with an additional pantograph with textured contact strips that can be raised and used as needed.

The ability to respond quickly has become more important as Metro Transit’s light rail vehicle fleet has expanded to nearly 90 trains serving two light rail lines.

“We have to be able to deploy them (light-rail vehicles) immediately or you’ll never be able to keep up,” said Rick Carey, assistant director of light-rail vehicle maintenance.

The new pantographs come largely assembled but the brackets used to mount the equipment on top of the train were designed in house and are fabricated by maintenance staff. To install the pantographs, the equipment is hoisted above the train, welded into place and then wired. The entire process can take up to eight hours.

Electro-mechanical technicians Chris Kostohris and Tom Astedt are responsible for assembling the brackets and putting the pantographs on the trains. The installations began in August and will continue through the winter months.

Astedt said he likes the work because each vehicle poses a new challenge. Each train is a little different, so Astedt and Kostohris carefully measure and level each new pantograph to fit the space.

“It could probably be off an inch and no one would know it, but we’d know,” Astedt said while recently installing a pantograph at Metro Transit’s Operations and Maintenance Facility. “We’ve got a work ethic that requires us to make sure everything is straight and true.”

The ice-cutting pantographs aren’t the only all-weather feature on the light-rail trains. Each train comes equipped with a snowplow that pushes snow out of the rail right of way. The trains are also heavily insulated and heated to keep customers comfortable during cold weather.

“Operating in Minnesota winters certainly has its challenges, but we are committed to delivering safe, reliable rail service in all conditions,” Deputy Chief of Rail Operations John Humphrey said. “These new pantographs are just another example of our commitment to serving customers when they need us the most.”

    > Pioneer Press: Nuts and bolts: How the Green Line trains work

    > Track maintainers keep a careful eye on light-rail lines

    > How does Metro Transit prioritize winter storm cleanup?

    > Service during severe winter weather  

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