Skip to main content For screen readers, our previous mobile pages might be more easily navigated while we continue to improve the accessibility of our website.

  Riders Almanac - Metro Transit's Blog
Bicycle Community How We Roll Light Rail Rider Profile

How We Roll: Ed Alvarez, Facilities Technician 

Posted by jennasbennett | Tuesday, June 13, 2017 11:37:00 AM

Many Metro Transit employees are committed to sustainable transportation, riding the bus or train, biking or walking to work and other destinations across the region. These “How We Roll” profiles are a chance to illustrate how much we have in common with our customers when it comes to how we get around. See you out there!

Ed Alvarez, Facilities Technician

How do you get to work?

I live in Burnsville and do a mix of taking the Blue Line and riding my bike. Usually what I do is load my bike on my vehicle, drive to the 28th Avenue Park and Ride and get on the Blue Line with my bike. Depending on how much I feel like biking that day, I’ll take the light rail to either Fort Snelling or Minnehaha Park, get off and bike the rest of the way. From Fort Snelling, it’s nine miles to Transfer Road (Metro Transit's facilities team is based at this location, just north of University Avenue). Out of curiosity, one time I rode my bike from my house to Transfer Road and it took me two hours!

Why do you choose to bike?

Really, it’s for the exercise. I play hockey and biking keeps me in shape for that. It’s amazing how you can stay fit by biking just a few hours a week. I even bike in the rain and snow. I actually love riding in the rain! For rain, I wear protective gear, including booties that cover my shoes so they don’t get wet. For snow, I have a bike with studded tires and that helps eliminate my worry about hitting an ice patch. I have five bikes total – three mountain bikes, a road bike and a hybrid.

How long have you been biking?

I’ve been biking my whole life. I started biking to work in 1981 when I was at Ruter Garage and a lot younger. Then I got older, got married, had kids and stopped biking to work for a number of years and drove instead. Over the past three years, I’ve started biking again to stay in shape. I've been at Metro Transit for 37 years and I hope to keep biking to work as long as I’m able.

What do you enjoy most about your methods of commuting?

When I’m on the Blue Line, I like to use the time to listen to music. What I love about biking is that it is so relaxing and peaceful on the path. When I’m driving on I-35W it’s so crowded and stressful. When I get up in the morning for work and the alarm goes off, I look forward to starting my day with a bike ride.

Light Rail Safety

Light rail safety efforts receive national recognition 

| Monday, June 12, 2017 11:05:00 AM

Train operators Peter Mooers, left, and Bill Morris, right, took fourth place in the American Public Transit Association’s International Rail Rodeo held earlier this month in Baltimore, Md. Efforts to enhance safety at pedestrian crossings along Metro Transit’s light rail corridors have been recognized by the American Public Transit Association (APTA). 

APTA presented Metro Transit with a Gold Award for Safety for actions taken following a series of collisions that began in late-2015. Those efforts included a public safety campaign focused on grade crossing awareness, improved warning devices and the installation of alternate flashing headlights on light rail vehicles. The award was presented on Monday, June 12, at APTA’s 2017 Rail Conference in Baltimore, Md. 

This is the third Gold Award for Safety that Metro Transit has received since 2009. APTA presents one Gold Award annually, judging entries on effectiveness, innovation and project transferability. 

The number of light rail collisions per 100,000 vehicle miles has steadily declined since the Green Line opened in 2014. Through the end of April, there have been 0.51 collisions per 100,000 vehicle miles, down slightly from the same time last year. 

Two Metro Transit train operators also competed in APTA's International Rail Rodeo. Operators Peter Mooers, left, and Bill Morris, right, took fourth place in the skills competition, which tested operators' safety and customer service skills.

    > Awards and Recognition

    > Safety on METRO lines

Bus Community Light Rail

Tech program helps jobs seekers find new hope, career path 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, May 12, 2017 9:19:00 AM

Participants in the Metro Transit Technician program work on a pantograph at the Hiawatha Operations & Maintenance Facility.Some eager job seekers are getting an opportunity to pursue careers as Metro Transit technicians. 

The Metro Transit Technician program combines workforce readiness and on-the-job training, support toward earning a degree and an internship. Participants can enter the program with little to no experience but apply for full-time roles by the end of the two-year program. 

Participants pursuing careers in bus maintenance are currently enrolled at Hennepin Technical College while working as interns in several of Metro Transit's bus service garages. A second group of participants pursuing careers in rail vehicle and systems maintenance recently began their on-the-job training. 

WCCO recently caught up with a few of the participants working in the Hiawatha Operations & Maintenance Facility, where they were repairing a light-rail vehicle.  

    > Technician training program gets national recognition

The Metro Transit Technician program is not currently accepting new applications. Job seekers interested in learning more about career opportunities at Metro Transit should visit metrotransit.org/jobs

Bus Community Light Rail METRO Green Line

On transit, making an impression with poetry 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, March 31, 2017 3:11:00 PM

Michael Kleber-Diggs and Ellen Larsen with their poem and artwork at the Green Line's Western Avenue Station.For the past 20 years, Michael Kleber-Diggs has shared his poetry with a live audience, reading the room and enjoying the conversation that follows. Capturing the reaction to one of his newest poems, The Green Line, has been a little more difficult.

That’s because the poem is part of a new public art project, IMPRESSIONS, that provided local poets and artists a chance to have their work featured inside Metro Transit’s buses and trains and at select stations and shelters over the course of several months.

“When I heard about the project, I was completely enchanted with the idea that I would be, in a way, speaking to people without really knowing that I’m doing it,” Kleber-Diggs said. “That the poem has a life of its own is really the best part.”

Kleber-Diggs’ poem is among the first six pieces to emerge from the project, which began last year with a call for entries that drew more than 350 responses. Community editors with Saint Paul Almanac, which initiated the project, ultimately selected 24 poems to be showcased over the next year.

The poems are accompanied by illustrations by local artists who were partnered with poets and asked to offer their interpretations of the work. Kleber-Diggs' poem is accompanied by artwork created by Ellen Larsen, and can be found at the Green Line's Western Avenue Station (right). 

Kimberly Nightingale, Saint Paul Almanac’s executive director, said the idea for IMPRESSIONS came from a desire to share the kind of work that has been included in the organization’s annual books over the last decade with a broader audience.

“Not everyone is going to buy a book but everyone should be able to enjoy poetry and art, especially local poetry and art, which is our focus,” she said.

The idea got off the ground when Saint Paul Almanac received a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Metro Transit and Intersection, the company that manages transit advertising, are also partners.

The City of Saint Paul is supporting the project with funding for multiple events featuring the poets and artists whose work is featured (the next event will be held in June, when a new batch of poems and artwork are released).

There’s some precedence for combining poetry and transit, too. The Poetry Society of America’s Poetry in Motion effort has brought poetry onto transit systems across the country, including Metro Transit, which participated in that effort more than a decade ago.

Unlike Poetry in Motion, IMPRESSIONS involves only local poets and artists, giving it a distinct community orientation that organizers hope will resonate among passengers. “Hopefully, for the people who are riding, this allows them to say, ‘I can create my own poetry and my own art, and it can be a part of the community, too,'” Nightingale said.

While there isn’t an obvious connection to the Green Line, other than the title, Kleber-Diggs’ poem was partly inspired by his experience riding light rail and using transit over the past 30 years.

Exploring the forest on a camping trip, he began to humanize the trees and imagine them riding the train.

However people interpret his work, though, Kleber-Diggs hopes it serves as a welcome interruption from the norm.

“As an artist, you always want to see art out in the world,” he said. “I’m really exhilarated by the idea that someone will get on the bus and see not just my piece but the other pieces as well and have a chance to connect to them in some way.”

Discover the IMPRESSIONS art!

Take a photo of each IMPRESSIONS piece and send the collection to info@saintpaulalmanac.org with your name and phone number to enter a drawing for a for a $20 Go-To Card and other prizes! The next IMPRESSIONS release party will be held on Thursday, June 1, at Black Dog Cafe. 

    > Learn more about poets and artists whose work is being featured through IMPRESSIONS

Bus Light Rail

Taking stock of Metro Transit’s material needs 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, March 07, 2017 1:31:00 PM

A mechanical lift at Metro Transit's Overhaul Base helps stockkeepers to reach items stored on vertical shelves. Head Stockkeeper Michelle Bellfield likes to think of her work the same way she thinks about filling her refrigerator at home.

“There are the things you use every day, like milk or eggs, that you always want to have on hand,” she said. “And then there all the other things you use once in a while, so you only get them when you need them.”

Bellfield’s metaphor is a good way to sum up the philosophy that drives the Materials Management Department, which includes more than 40 employees working at Metro Transit facilities across the Twin Cities.

The scale of the operation, though, is quite a bit grander than what you’d encounter in the kitchen.

More than 18,000 unique items are included on Metro Transit’s constantly-evolving shopping list, including everything from exhaust filters and alternators to bolts, toilet paper and disposable gloves. Among the largest and most valuable items in the inventory is a transformer that comes within an inch of the ceiling at the Rail Support Facility.

At the end of 2016, the collective inventory had a combined value of nearly $40 million, the majority of which represented rail equipment like the trucks that sit beneath the passenger car and move light-rail trains down the track.

Amid this dizzying array of items and a constant stream of new deliveries, Materials Management keeps a close eye on what’s coming in and going out.

The goal is simple: have parts and supplies available in a timely fashion, without investing too heavily in items that wind up sitting idle on a shelf.

“That’s our real challenge — figu​ring out which mechanic at which garage is going to need that one part and when they’re going to need it,” said Chris Haefner, Materials Management Manager.

Despite the challenges, Materials Management has built a record of success. Requested items are almost always available immediately, keeping the time buses or trains are out of service while waiting on parts at a minimum.

That record partly reflects the fact that the majority of the organization’s needs are fairly predictable, with around 1,000 items accounting for about 70 percent of the inventory. But there are also 15,000 items that make up a much smaller share of the inventory.

One way Materials Management controls the supply is by only stocking items that are requested two or more times within a six-month period.

Software that has been in use since 2015 has also helped Materials Management become more precise, using historical data to predict future needs and guide purchases. Just 15 percent of Metro Transit’s inventory has been forecasted to date, a share that will grow over time, but around $750,000 in savings has already been realized.

Another challenge for Materials Management is simply keeping track of everything that comes through Metro Transit’s doors. Deliveries arrive daily at five different locations, including the 50,000-square-foot warehouse at the Overhaul Base.

There, a computer system linked to a massive machine with rotating shelves helps stockkeeepers store new deliveries and pull supplies ordered by service garages and other work locations, which go out daily.

“It’s really an amazing machine,” said Lead Stockkeeper Ong Vang, standing on a platform that rises to reach the top shelves. 

Between these activities, stockkeepers here and at other sites are prompted to manually count dozens of items each day, contributing to a “cycle count” that replaces what would be an otherwise overwhelming, annual task. In 2016, these counts almost exactly matched recorded inventory.

Haefner said those results reflect how seriously stockeepers, analysts and planners in Materials Management take their work. 

“Our mission is to be responsible stewards of the taxpayers’ money while also supporting our internal customers,” he said. “Everyone in our group takes that very seriously.”​

Members of the Materials Management Department, from left to right: Head Stockkeeper Stephanie Armstead, Lead Stockkeeper Ong Vang, Manager Chris Haefner, Head Stockkeepr Michelle Bellfied, Head Stockkeeper Dan Alcaraz, Inventory Analyst Jason Adams, Garage Stockroom Coordinator Bill Neuenfeldt and Supervisor/Material Planner Mike Rood.​

Bus Community Light Rail Minneapolis St. Paul

Reflections on November in the Twin Cities 

Posted by Kathy Graul | Wednesday, November 30, 2016 10:13:00 AM

Does anyone else feel like November has flown by? A presidential election, unseasonably warm temperatures and Vikings games in the new stadium are just a few of the highlights. We at Metro Transit are thankful for the opportunity to look back and reflect on this month through the stunning photography featuring public transportation in the Twin Cities that we've admired on Instagram. 

Here we offer a look back at some of our favorite images from this month - which is your favorite? 

And by the way, are you following us on Instagram? It's a great place to connect with us and see the creative side of transit. We might also feature your photo if it catches our eye! (Just be sure to tag us!)

Purple skies over the Vikings stadium, with the Blue Line featured in the foreground

Reflections of a Route 6 bus heading over the Hennepin Avenue bridge

 

"The old cathedrals are good, but the great blue dome that hangs over everything is better." -- Thomas Carlyle

A photo posted by Joe -- St. Paul, MN (@theuptown5) on

Snow finally falling in downtown Minneapolis

Super-speedy Green Line

Moody morning light rail shot in downtown Minneapolis

 

Early mornings are a little darker these days.

A photo posted by Jeremy (@jeremy.delane) on

Green Line train passing through Government Plaza

 

The green line.

A photo posted by Max Webb (@webbwonder) on

Bus Fares From the GM Light Rail

Fare toolbox grows with introduction of new mobile app 

| Thursday, November 03, 2016 9:52:00 AM

Metro Transit's app allows customers to buy fares in advance and display them on a mobile device. From General Manager Brian Lamb

When people leave their homes, there are a few essential items they’re likely carrying with them, including identification, credit or bank cards and a mobile phone.                                                                   

Less likely to be in their pocket: a Go-To Card or the exact change it costs to board a bus or light-rail train.

Confusion about the fare and the need to have the right amount ready to board has long been a challenge for new or infrequent riders, sometimes discouraging them from using transit altogether.

Ticket vending machines that accept cash and credit cards at rail and rapid bus stations helped us begin to address this challenge. This week, we took another major step forward as we introduced a new Metro Transit app that allows people to buy and instantly use fares using a smartphone.

With the app, customers can purchase mobile tickets in advance and use them when they’re ready to ride. These customers will prove they’ve paid their fare by showing bus operators or police officers a screen with a unique, moving image that can’t be replicated or used after time has expired.

Created in partnership with tech company moovel, the app also provides access to our website’s most popular trip planning tools. In the future, it will give customers a simple way to let us know about immediate concerns and to receive alerts about the routes they most often use.

Operators and police have been trained to recognize valid mobile tickets over the last several months and a number of employees have successfully tested it in the field over the last few weeks.

Time will tell how the successful the app and mobile ticketing will be in attracting new customers, but there are several reasons to believe it will be a powerful tool. Consider:

    > Nearly 7 in 10 U.S. adults own a smartphone, and a third have used them to make a mobile payment. Our largest customer group, Millenials, are even more likely to own a smartphone and use it to make purchases. For many low-income residents, smartphones are the only reliable access to online resources.

    > The Twin Cities has become a top tourist destination, attracting more than 30 million visitors a year. An even greater number of visitors will arrive in the coming years for the Super Bowl and other large events. While special fare products that serve travelers have been introduced, mobile tickets are more immediate and convenient.  

    > About 72 percent of our website’s visits are from mobile devices and 16 percent of fares are sold through our online store. Use of a new service that allows customers to access NexTrip information by text message has grown exponentially since being introduced last June.

There are advantages for our operations, too. Cash-paying customers take more time at the farebox when boarding and face longer lines when buying tickets after large events. Customers who use mobile tickets will board just as efficiently as those using Go-To Cards.

While there are several clear advantages, the number of customers expected to use mobile tickets is likely to be small – we hope they will account for around 5 percent of all fare payments within the next year.

But getting customers to purchase their fares through the app on a regular basis isn’t really our goal. Instead, we want the app and mobile ticketing to move transit up on the list of options people consider when making a trip, eventually earning their trust so Go-To Cards become just as indispensable as their smartphones.

Learn More

Learn how to download the app, create an account and purchase mobile tickets at metrotransit.org/app 

Page 1 of 8 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 > >>

Skip footer navigation

CONTACT US
FOLLOW US ON: