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Posts in Category: Light Rail

Awards Bus Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Minneapolis Safety

Sarah Gibson claims Rail Rodeo crown with calm demeanor 

Posted by Laura Baenen | Tuesday, April 23, 2019 1:42:00 PM

Rail Supervisor Connie Skinner (top left) scores Train Operator Sarah Gibson during Metro Transit's 2019 Rail Rodeo. Train Operators Joe Bretto (top right) and Mose Mahir (bottom right) perform pre-trip inspections during the contest.

Train Operator Sarah Gibson’s laid-back approach won her Metro Transit’s Rail Rodeo crown last Saturday.

“I really didn’t do much to prepare. This is what I’ve been doing for five years now so operating a train is almost second nature, and I’ve always been pretty good at written tests,” said Gibson, who has worked for Metro Transit for seven years, the first two as a bus operator.

Gibson will represent Metro Transit at the American Public Transportation Association’s International Rail Rodeo in Toronto in June. She also was named the Green Line’s Garage Champion, a new award this year, and won a jacket.

Joining her in Toronto will be fellow Train Operator Joe Bretto, who placed third. Train Operator Paul Gillespie placed second but is unable to attend.

During the skills competition, operators were judged on the thoroughness of a pre-trip inspection and their operation of a light rail vehicle in the rail yard and on the Blue Line. They also took a written exam on light rail rules and had to pass a uniform inspection.

This wasn’t Gibson’s first Rail Rodeo. In 2017, the only other time she’s competed, she finished third. She was also a finalist in the 2013 Bus Roadeo.

Gibson is taking the same relaxed approach to the international competition that she took to the local one.

“I enjoy my job and do it the best I can every day, so I suppose I’ll just keep doing that,” Gibson said.

Gibson’s family will join her in Toronto to cheer her on. They also hope to catch a Toronto Blue Jays game since the team will be at home during the competition dates.

Meanwhile, Metro Transit’s reigning Bus Roadeo champion, Heywood Operator Jack Berner, will compete in APTA’s International Bus Roadeo in May. This is expected to be Berner’s final Roadeo before retirement. He has won Metro Transit’s Bus Roadeo seven of the past 12 years.

Metro Transit’s annual Bus Roadeo will be held in St. Paul on Saturday, Sept. 14, Tuesday, Sept. 17, Wednesday, Sept. 18 and Thursday, Sept. 19.

Light Rail

Light Rail art celebrates Earth Day, partnership 

Posted by John Komarek | Friday, April 19, 2019 12:51:00 PM

A light rail vehicle carrying METRO Green Line customers to their destinations now doubles as a work of art.

The outside of the vehicle shows a caterpillar becoming a monarch butterfly. Inside, the walls are covered with illustrated scenes of moose, mice and other furry creatures exploring local landmarks like the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in every season.

The unique display is the culmination of a partnership between students at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul-based artist Sarah Nelson and Metro Transit. 

Last fall, students in a Leadership for Social Justice course conducted a series of interviews about the connections between transit, sustainable communities and social justice.

The interviews provide the foundation of a recently published book, Transit Transformations. Nelson’s hand-drawn illustrations of a monarch butterfly adorn the cover of that book and were adapted for the exterior of the light rail vehicle.

The monarch was chosen for the book cover because transformation was a common theme in the interviews.  

The illustrations inside the light rail vehicle were purely Nelson’s vision.

“You might think of it as (children’s book author and illustrator) Richard Scarry meets Where’s Waldo, but with my own spin,” Nelson said as she saw the finished product for the first time. “I hope that this artwork engages people of all ages and captures fun.”

Transferring Nelson’s designs to such an unusual canvas took hundreds of hours and careful planning. Advertisements are regularly applied to the outside of light rail vehicles, but they rarely take over the inside the way Nelson’s illustrations do. 

The unusual display was made possible by an arts program connected to St. Thomas’ Sustainable Communities Partnership. Through the partnership, students work with community partners on projects that support human and environmental well-being.

The project was also supported by the SOLV Initiative, a St. Thomas’ College of Arts and Science program that, in part, seeks to support the public interest through arts and the humanities.

The artwork will remain in place through at least the end of May. But Professor Mike Klein, who led the students whose interviews provide the foundation for the book and light rail artwork, said he hopes it leaves an impression that lasts well beyond its lifetime.

“We hope this artwork will capture the rider’s imagination,” he said. “And to help us imagine a world we want to see.”

Earth Day Light Rail Wrap

Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Minneapolis Ridership

Final Four leads to record light rail ridership 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, April 18, 2019 11:46:00 AM

Metro Transit brought tens of thousands of fans to U.S. Bank Stadium for the 2019 NCAA Men's Final Four in Minneapolis.The METRO Blue and Green lines each set single-day ridership records on Monday, April 8, when the NCAA Men’s Final Four championship game was held at U.S. Bank Stadium.

There were 62,686 rides provided on the Blue Line and 68,210 rides on the Green Line that day. The combined total of 130,896 light rail rides topped the previous single-day light rail ridership record set on Sept. 11, 2017.

April 8 was the busiest day on the Green Line since Oct. 3, 2016, when the Vikings played a Monday night game at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Blue Line’s previous single-day ridership record was set on Aug. 24, 2018.

Altogether, Metro Transit provided nearly 160,000 more light rail rides between Friday, April 5, and Tuesday, April 9, when Final Four activities were being held across downtown Minneapolis. Total rides on those dates are being compared to the same days the prior week.

Metro Transit also played a key role on Saturday, April 13, when Minnesota United hosted its inaugural match at Allianz Field. An estimated 5,500 fans took the Green Line and A Line to the stadium, at the corner of University and Snelling avenues.

Fans can take light rail to every major stadium in the Twin Cities, including CHS Field, TCF Bank Stadium and Target Field.

“As Minnesota sports fans and visitors can attest, transit is the most convenient, affordable and enjoyable way to get to and from large events,” General Manger Wes Kooistra said. “We are happy to support our community in this way and look forward to having an even greater ability to do so as our network grows in the years ahead.”

Know Your Operator Light Rail METRO Green Line

Know Your Operator: DJ Gonte 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, March 15, 2019 8:24:00 AM

Train Operator DJ Gonte at the Green Line's Operations & Maintenance Facility in St. Paul.

Growing up in Ethiopia’s capitol city, DJ Gonte didn’t live far from a train station.

Watching the trains pull in and out gave him an early and deep love for railroading. Years later, it would also lead him to what he now describes as his dream job.

Seeking new opportunity, Gonte moved to Minnesota in 1996. He went to school, earned an associates degree in computer networking and took jobs at a computer company and as a school bus driver.

After a few years, he found a role at Medtronic. The company’s Brooklyn Center offices are just east of Metro Transit's Martin J. Ruter Garage.

“I would pass by the front of the garage and say, ‘One day, I’m going to work there,’” Gontesaid.

In late 2009, he realized that vision and began as a part-time bus operator. While he liked the work, Gonte knew from the beginning that what he really wanted was to drive a train.

He got that opportunity in 2014, when the METRO Green Line opened. Gonte was among those who made the inaugural trips on opening day, and he’s been carrying passengers up and down University Avenue ever since.

The job is just as enjoyable and rewarding as he imagined, too.

“I just love it. Every time I go out it’s like a whole new experience,” he said. “When I’m away from work for a few days I’m always excited to come back.”

The job does have its challenges, though. While he’s learned to anticipate the actions of drivers and pedestrians, moving through the corridor still requires constant and undivided attention, Gonte said.

Nearly five years after realizing his dream, Gonte said he’s proud of what he does and has no plans to stop any time soon.

Besides liking his job, he appreciates the benefits and a schedule that allows him and his wife to share parenting responsibilities and enjoy weekends together as a family (Gonte has two children, ages 3 and 9).

"When you like what you do it just gets better and better," he said. 

Light Rail METRO Blue Line Minneapolis

Train operator recalls 30-year-old CPR lessons, likely saving a passenger’s life 

Posted by Laura Baenen | Tuesday, February 19, 2019 1:29:00 PM

Train operator Jim Peach (above left) was moved to take a CPR class 30 years ago after watching helplessly as a fellow Northwest Airlines mechanic died of a heart attack at work. The next time he saw someone stricken when he was on the job, Peach knew what to do.

That time was the morning of Sept. 19, 2018. When Peach pulled his southbound Blue Line train into the Cedar-Riverside Station, he saw a crowd around a man having a seizure on the platform.

From the Rail Control Center, Rail Supervisor Jim Clancy (above right) called 911 as Peach and a bystander removed the man’s backpack to lay him on his back.

“I remember saying ‘We’re losing him.’ He was turning purple,” Peach said.

Peach estimates he performed about 10 chest compressions before the man’s color returned. Recalling his training, he turned the man on his side and asked for his name. The man responded “Kyle.”

“That’s when my head about exploded,” Peach said. “It was great. I was just, ‘My God, that just worked.’ When I got up and left, a lot of people started clapping.”

In January, Peach was recognized for having taken action by the Metropolitan Council’s Transportation Committee. He also earned admiration from his colleagues.

“He likely saved that man’s life,” said Clancy, who watched the situation unfold on cameras back at the RCC. 

Peach maintained his composure long enough to move the train to the Franklin Avenue Station, where he was already scheduled for a break. After leaving the train, he was overcome with emotion.

“It was like a truck ran over me because I didn’t understand what my brain and body had just done,” Peach said. “I have never felt like that. My body was numb. Everybody tells me it was the adrenaline.”

Peach had trouble sleeping for a long time and still wonders how Kyle is doing, what his full name is and would like to know more about him.

If they could meet, Peach said he’d like to tell him about the man who inspired him to take a CPR class. His name was Gene, and they worked in Northwest Airlines’ machine shop at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

“I felt really bad. A real nice guy I worked with died, and I couldn’t help him,” Peach said.

Peach knows firsthand the importance of saving a life. As a baby, he was in a house fire on Feb. 19, 1957. An aunt and uncle rushed him to a hospital.

“I was very badly burned at four months old, and it took me 61 years and seven months to pay it forward,” marveled Peach, who at 62 still bears scars from that fire.

Registered nurse Alicia Bravo, who works in the emergency department at Hennepin Healthcare and is a CPR advocate for the American Heart Association, was amazed at what Peach was able to do.

“He hadn’t taken a course in 30 years, but maybe he had been hearing all these messages since then about CPR and that could have been with him,” Bravo said. “He’s very brave for having done something.”  

Where to learn CPR

Visit the American Heart Association’s website to find out where and when CPR classes are available in your area. Visit www.heart.org/en/cpr to learn more.

A CPR kiosk can also be found in the skyway level of Hennepin Healthcare’s Red Building, 730 South 8th Street, Minneapolis. The kiosk includes a mannequin that gives live feedback to compressions.

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