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Bus In the News Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line

Rail lines set records as Metro Transit ridership tops 81.9 million in 2017 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, January 25, 2018 3:00:00 PM

A record number of light rail and commuter rail rides were taken in 2017 as Metro Transit’s annual ridership topped 81.9 million. 

Metro Transit has provided more than 80 million rides in each of the past seven years, sustaining the highest ridership the agency has seen in three decades. Average weekday ridership in 2017 was 264,347. 

“Last year’s strong ridership underscores just how many people across the region are relying on us to get them safely to and from work, school and many other destinations,” Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said. “On behalf of everyone at Metro Transit, I’d like to thank all those who are placing their confidence in us and making transit a part of their lives.”

The 2017 ridership total includes a record 13.1 million rides on the METRO Green Line, which has seen ridership grow every year since its 2014 opening and had its highest single-day ridership ever on Aug. 31, 2017. Nearly 10.7 million rides were taken on the Blue Line, breaking the previous record set in 2015. 

Ridership on the Green Line increased about 3.5 percent compared to 2016, while Blue Line ridership increased nearly 4 percent. 

Nearly 794,000 rides were provided on the Northstar Commuter Rail Line, a nearly 12 percent increase over 2016. Last year’s Northstar ridership broke a record set in 2013. 

Metropolitan Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff announced the ridership records in her State of the Region address on Thursday

“Congratulations and thank you to all our Metro Transit employees who play a role in providing a service that people across this region use in record numbers. This is yet another reminder that we do truly have one of the best transit systems in the nation,” said Chair Tchourumoff.

“2017 was a trifecta for our rail lines in the metro,” Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said. “With gas prices hovering at $2.50 per gallon, all three of our rail lines – Green, Blue, and Northstar – set ridership records. These three rail lines now constitute 31 percent of all rides on Metro Transit. This is another piece of strong evidence that rail investment is good for the Twin Cities.”

Systemwide, ridership remained essentially flat compared to 2016. 

Metro Transit provided more than 57.3 million bus rides in 2017, including more than 1.5 million rides on the A Line. Average weekday ridership in the A Line corridor has increased by about one-third since the rapid bus line opened. 

“The A Line is a prime example of the investments this region needs,” said B Kyle, president & CEO of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. “Bus rapid transit is an integral part of the system, which we know the vast majority of people are using to get to work or school. Every day I hear from our business members how critical transit investments are to their ability to attract and retain talent.”

“Our region needs to keep the momentum we’re seeing with these ridership records,” said Jonathan Weinhagen, president & CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce. “Continuing to maintain and improve our regional system will pay huge dividends for everyone, not just the business community. We’ve reached a tipping point where maintaining the status quo means we’re falling behind our peer regions. It’s time to double down on transit investment.”

Total bus ridership declined about two percent. The decline mirrors a national trend attributed in part to low gas prices. Ridership losses were greatest during off-peak hours and on routes that were detoured off Nicollet Mall during construction. 

  2017 Ridership 2017 Average Weekday Ridership

Bus

55,751,961

184,736

Green Line

13,142,163

40,554

Blue Line

10,668,832

31,510

A Line

1,570,670

4,727

Northstar

793,796

2,819

Total

81,927,422

264,347

 

Learn more about Metro Transit's 2017 accomplishments

Bus Light Rail Winter Weather

Riders reminded of importance of Metro Transit during first big blast of winter 

Posted by Kathy Graul | Tuesday, December 05, 2017 1:29:00 PM

Snow and ice-covered roads led to a tricky and long commute this morning after winter’s first big blast hit the Twin Cities overnight.

Light rail and Northstar commuter rail service are not typically impacted by winter weather thanks to trains’ built-in snow clearing capabilities and the special ice-cutting equipment that's also mounted on most light rail vehicles. But, like all other drivers on the road during winter weather events, bus operators continue to put safety first and are face the same heavy traffic we all face when icy and snowy weather conditions strike.  

Despite delays across the bus system, a positive attitude among riders was apparent as the shout-outs rolled in for Metro Transit bus drivers and train operators on Twitter throughout the day. Here, we gather a few of our favorites. Only in Minnesota could there be so much camaraderie and good spirit during such a winter weather mess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To stay up to date with service information during winter weather events, follow Metro Transit on Facebook or Twitter. “Show my bus” is also a handy feature to track the GPS location of your bus through Metro Transit’s NexTrip service.

Bus Good Question Light Rail Shelters Winter Weather

Good Question: Why do shelter heaters need to be replaced so frequently ? 

Posted by Marisa Helms | Thursday, November 16, 2017 10:26:00 AM

When the cold weather hits the metro area, customers who wait at hundreds of bus shelters and rail platforms have access to on-demand heaters that allow push-button activation when the temperature drops to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.

The heaters improve the customer's waiting experience, but they are fragile, subject to vandalism, and require constant care and replacement from maintenance staff.

Manager of Facilities Mike Maddio said every winter the 1,500 heat lamps throughout the system must be replaced again and again. This winter is no different, and Maddio estimates replacing the vandalized heaters has cost the agency tens of thousands of dollars over the past few years.

The heaters are made from one or more 12-inch glass tubes, and are targets for vandals, especially in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, Maddio said. Since early October, he said a staff of four electricians have replaced more than 400 heat lamps and are scheduled to replace another 800 in the coming weeks.

"It's daunting," Maddio said. "We fix one heater at 7 a.m. and by 2 p.m. it's destroyed again."

Catching vandals in the act isn't always possible, but, Transit Police Lt. Troy Schmitz said police will pursue criminal charges if they're are able to obtain video of the vandalism and identify suspects.

A Line BRT Bus Light Rail METRO Green Line

Dorothy’s last ride 

Posted by Kathy Graul | Tuesday, October 03, 2017 8:49:00 AM

William Carter III took his mother Dorothy on one final ride to celebrate her life and the independence public transportation afforded her.Dorothy Carter was fiercely independent. But she never had a driver’s license and never drove a car. For all 94 years of her life, she took public transportation.

“It was her way to stay independent. To do what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it and not be bound by anybody’s schedule or feel like she was imposing,” said Dorothy’s son, William Carter III.

On Thursday, Sept. 28, William took his mother Dorothy on one final ride to celebrate her life and the independence transit afforded her.

“I’m just riding all day. We’re taking a farewell tour,” said William as he boarded a westbound Green Line train at Snelling Avenue Station.

“It’s been quite a ride for her,” William said.

With a sign and an urn containing Dorothy’s remains in tow, William boarded several bus routes, the METRO Green Line and the A Line to visit some of his mother’s regular destinations throughout the day.

“Walgreen’s on Snelling. Rosedale Mall. Korte’s. We might stop by Plums for some French onion soup that she liked. I plan on stopping by her doctor’s office, too,” he said.

A resident of the Highland Park neighborhood, Dorothy knew the St. Paul bus routes like the back of her hand. Macy’s in downtown St. Paul was a favorite destination prior to its closing. But she would also take transit across town on occasion. She once took transit from St. Paul to Southdale in Edina to accompany a visually impaired friend (who also did not drive) for a doctor’s appointment.

As a longtime Twin Cities resident, Dorothy always intentionally chose to live near access to transit, and she witnessed firsthand the vast changes in public transportation from the streetcar days to the opening of the METRO Green Line.

In recent years, when Dorothy was no longer able to take transit on her own, she started using Metro Mobility to get to doctor’s appointments, lunches with friends and shopping, up until a few months before she died.

“She’d call and say ‘I took Metro Mobility to the doctor today. And we had the nicest driver and the nicest tour, and I met the nicest person on the bus.’” William said. “She was just very appreciative of everything that was going on.”

She instilled that appreciative attitude and her belief in the importance of transit in her son, an only child.

“She taught me how to sew. How to iron. And how to take the bus,” William said. By the time William was in the fourth grade, Dorothy would send him on the bus on his own to start learning the routes.

“So that’s why I’m doing it. To show appreciation for teaching me the independence of not only how to ride the bus but the importance of it,” William said. “It’s just one final tour to thank her for all the skills she taught me about riding the bus.”

Dorothy's last ride

Equity Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line

Technicians in training celebrate early milestone in career path 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Monday, August 21, 2017 3:28:00 PM

Participants in the Metro Transit Technician training program were recognized at a completion ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 17, in Minneapolis.Chapman Templer was working at a local bike shop, unsure when or if he’d ever get promoted or earn more money. After two years at Tires Plus, Chee Vang was struggling to pinpoint his long-term goals. Jordan “Monk” Nicholson was writing comic books and looking for a full-time job after recently moving from Ohio to the Twin Cities.

They and a dozen other job seekers who entered the Metro Transit Technician training program last fall now have a much better idea of what their futures could hold. 

The second group to enter the industry-first job training program was celebrated last week at the Blue Line’s Operations & Maintenance Facility, where participants had spent the past several months studying electrical theory and learning from the Electro Mechanic Technicians they aspire to someday work beside.

That experience was accompanied by tutoring and empowerment training with instructors at Twin Cities RISE!, a Minneapolis-based non-profit that helps individuals overcome barriers to employment. 

Last week’s ceremony came at an early crossroads for the participants: on Monday, they began full-time, paid Metro Transit internships and classes at Hennepin Technical College, which has developed a new degree program centered around Rail Maintenance.

While lots of hard work remains, supporters said the confidence and skills the participants had already built needed to be recognized.

“I know this is just the beginning, but today definitely deserves to be celebrated,” said Vang, who spoke in front of around 100 friends, family and Metro Transit staff gathered at the event. “What we’ve learned is to celebrate all of the small victories.”

This is the second group to enter the training program, developed by Metro Transit in partnership with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, Hennepin Technical College and Twin Cities RISE!

Participants from the first group are now entering their second year in college while interning in service garages and preparing to apply for full-time roles in Bus Maintenance. Applications for a third round of the program, again focused on Bus Maintenance, will be accepted later this year.

For participants like Vang, the goal is to land a career that promises stability, good benefits and opportunities to advance. For Metro Transit, the hope is to rejuvenate the ranks of technicians in bus and rail maintenance amid retirements and system growth.

Metro Transit will need to nearly double the number of technicians maintaining light-rail vehicles, signals, and systems to support planned extensions of the Green and Blue lines set to open in the years ahead. At the same time, around half of current technicians are above the age of 50 and beginning to approach retirement age. 

“We’re very excited now to be growing our own technicians,” Chief Operating Officer Vince Pellegrin said.

The program also supports Metro Transit's ongoing efforts to build diversity and provide access to opportunity.

Included in the most-recent group of participants was Ashley Williamson, who is on a path to becoming the first African American female to work in Rail Maintenance at Metro Transit.

“This is a major accomplishment to be able to inspire the next generation of people who are like me,” she said.

Electro Mechanic Technicians Resha Petit and Ben Engen said learning about participants’ histories is part of what made mentoring them so interesting and rewarding. They also appreciated the eagerness the participants showed throughout the 120 hours they spent working in the shop and studying with instructors.

“From day one, they came in here with a positive attitude,” Engen said. “It really made me look forward to coming to work on those days.”

Metro Transit light rail technician program

Participants in the Metro Transit Technician training program celebrated last week include, from left to right, front row: Calvin Hill, Allan Vang, Annette Kavanaugh, Chee Vang, Christopher Dudzinski, Thao Xiong, Toua Yang. Back row: Ronald “RJ” Abellard, Caitlin Wagner, Chapman Templer, Tenzin Kunga, Terence Ealy, Ashley Williamson, Jaime Trujillo, Jordan “Monk” Nicholson.

   > We're hiring! Learn more about career opportunities at Metro Transit

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