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Posts in Category: METRO Green Line

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  

Light Rail METRO Green Line

Green Line tops 1 million rides, again 

| Thursday, November 13, 2014 2:40:00 PM

Customers riding the METRO Green Line.For the second straight month, customers boarded the METRO Green Line more than 1 million times.

There were 1,131,264 rides on the Green Line in October, up 6 percent from September’s total and a new monthly record. Average weekday ridership was 38,597 in October, which is 40 percent higher than 2015 projections. Projected average weekday ridership for 2030 is nearly 41,000.

There have been 4,609,209 total rides on the Green Line since service began in June.

The Green Line, local Route 16 and express Route 94 had a combined ridership of 1.25 million in October. Ridership on these University Avenue routes was up 78 percent compared to the same month last year, when service was provided by routes 16, 94 and the limited-stop Route 50 that was replaced by the Green Line.

The most active stop on the Green Line was East Bank Station, which had an average of 4,994 weekday boardings in October. The top five busiest Green Line stations were East Bank, Nicollet Mall, Central, Snelling and Stadium Village.

There were just over 8 million rides in October, up 6 percent compared to the same month last year. There have been nearly 70.8 total rides this year, more than 2 million rides or 3 percent ahead of 2013.

Regional transit ridership, including suburban, contracted and University of Minnesota service, is up 7 percent through the third quarter at 25.9 million total rides.

    > Vikings fans bleed purple, ride Green

    > Explore the Twin Cities using the Green Line A to Z Guide

   

Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Northstar University of Minnesota

Vikings fans bleed purple, ride Green 

| Tuesday, November 04, 2014 1:22:00 PM

Vikings fans board the METRO Green Line at Stadium Village Station.Vikings fans have long enjoyed traveling to and from home games on light rail. And while it’s been all about the METRO Blue Line in past seasons, the opening of the METRO Green Line and a move to TCF Bank Stadium has changed the gameday dynamic.

Fans traveling to the game on light rail now take the Green Line to Stadium Village Station, which sits just east of TCF Bank Stadium. Those traveling from Minneapolis or points south can ride the Blue Line to Downtown East Station – where the Vikings’ new stadium is being built – and make an easy transfer to the Green Line to complete their journey.

The expanded transit opportunities, which also include bus and Northstar services, have led to a major uptick in gameday ridership. An estimated 20 to 24 percent of fans – nearly 13,000 people – have taken light rail to each of the Vikings’ regular season home games so far this season. Gophers fans have also heavily used light rail on gamedays.

Ridership to Vikings games has nearly doubled from previous seasons, but careful planning is allowing fans to travel easily and efficiently to and from each game.

For the first time this season, Metro Transit is offering pre-paid, round trip light-rail fares online so fans can bypass ticket vending machines (Metro Transit police continue to check fares before customers are allowed to board). Ambassadors are also available to answer questions at the station. To help move fans safely and efficiently, extra trains provide additional service after each game as needed.

It’s hard to understand just how well the system works without seeing it in action. The below lapse, taken following Minnesota's win on Sunday, Nov.2,  does just that (the video compresses about an hour's worth of post-game boarding activity). The next time you head to the game, consider joining the crowd!

    > The easy way to Vikings games & events at TCF Bank Stadium

    > Plan your trip to TCF Bank Stadium

Bus Community METRO Green Line St. Paul

Young transit fans go behind the scenes 

| Friday, July 11, 2014 9:37:00 AM

Liam and James Hanley know a thing or two about taking transit in the Twin Cities.

In fact, the brothers have become pretty expert at getting around on buses and trains, having ridden each of the METRO lines, Northstar and more than 20 bus routes since moving to Minnesota three years ago.

A collection of bus schedules from 2005 to the present fills two shoeboxes. James, 10, describes himself as the “family’s trip planner.” Liam, 12, prides himself on his solo trips to the Mall of America and other destinations (“Of all the trips I have taken, I have always come back in one piece even though my mom gets super worried,” he says.)

The brother’s adventures began when they began taking the Blue Line to meet their dad for lunch in downtown Minneapolis and grew after they moved from Edina to St. Paul, where they could access more bus routes. This fall, Liam, will begin riding Route 84 and the Green Line to school every day. James will share the commute the year after.

The enthusiasm for all things transit led Liam and James to recently write to Rider’s Almanac. Seeing their excitement, Metro Transit offered them and their mom, Kate, a tour of the Heywood Garage and the Blue Line’s Operations and Maintenance Facility.

On the tour, the boys saw the bus garage’s maintenance bays, rode in the cab of a light-rail vehicle and met with several staff members who answered their many questions. Here, the boys speak briefly about why they enjoy taking transit:

From the GM METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line

Decade later, Blue Line is booming 

| Thursday, June 26, 2014 5:00:00 AM

From General Manager Brian Lamb

When the METRO Blue Line opened a decade ago, residents hadn’t moved around the Twin Cities on rail since buses replaced streetcars five decades earlier. People weren’t sure what to make of the new light-rail service and expectations were modest. In fact, critics called it the “train to nowhere.”

What’s happened in the years since is nothing short of extraordinary.

More than 90.5 million rides have been taken since Blue Line trains began operating between the Warehouse District and Fort Snelling on June 26, 2004. Average weekday ridership continues to exceed 2020 projections by more than 25 percent – a response so strong that we extended platforms and ordered additional light-rail vehicles to begin running longer trains last year. Turns out a lot of people were interested in going “nowhere.”

As the Blue Line reaches its 10th anniversary there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about its future, too.

The opening of the Green Line earlier this month provides a host of new opportunities for passengers on both light-rail lines. With a simple, seamless transfer in downtown Minneapolis, Green Line customers can board a Blue Line train and continue south to the VA, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport or Mall of America. Blue Line customers can continue their trips on the Green Line to the University of Minnesota, University Avenue and downtown St. Paul.

Improved bus service and the additions of the Northstar Commuter Rail Line and METRO Red Line at the north and south ends of the Blue Line have similarly given more people to access light rail, a trend that will only continue as our transit network grows in the years ahead.

As the Blue Line changed the way people get around, development followed suit. More housing, commercial and office space has been built or is under construction at several points along the 12-mile corridor.

Apartments that opened late last year across from the 38th Street Station filled almost as soon as they were made available. In the heart of downtown Minneapolis, apartments are rising immediately adjacent to Nicollet Mall Station. And the North Loop neighborhood around Target Field Station has been transformed from a collection of empty warehouses to a vibrant neighborhood where people live, work and play.

Downtwon East Station on the opening day of the METRO Blue Line.All of this activity bodes well for Twin Cities residents who, now more than ever, want to get around without relying on a vehicle. But the Blue Line isn't just serving those who have made it a part of their daily lives.

Light-rail has also become a strong selling point for groups working to attract more businesses and travelers to our region.

In Bloomington, the Mall of America is expanding, new hotel spaces have been built and the city is pursuing an ambitious plan to create more opportunities for transit-oriented development around Bloomington Central Station. Next month, visitors from around the world will use the Blue and Green lines to travel to and from Target Field for the MLB All-Star Game. In 2018 an even larger group will arrive in the Twin Cities to enjoy the 2018 Super Bowl, an event that would be virtually impossible without transit.

Success breeds success, which is why we can be confident the Green Line will enjoy a similar record of success in its first 10 years of service – and in every decade thereafter. In fact, even before opening day it was clear the Blue Line had put the Green Line in a strong position to succeed.

As our regional transit network continues to grow let us remember that it was the Blue Line that set the table as well as the standard for transit in our region and be thankful for all those who have helped to make it a success.

    > From the GM

    > METRO Blue Line

    > Photos from the Blue Line opening

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