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Posts in Category: Light Rail

Bus Good Question Light Rail Northstar Rider Information Suburban Transit

Good Question: Why is service reduced on certain dates? 

| Wednesday, July 01, 2015 10:56:00 AM

Customers board Route 767 at the Bottineau Blvd & 63rd Avenue Park & Ride.On dates when fewer customers are expected to ride transit, service is reduced on some bus routes, as well as light rail and Northstar.

These “Reduced Service” days are typically observed holidays when many major employers are closed. Most of the service reductions are on routes used by commuters traveling to downtown Minneapolis, St. Paul or the University of Minnesota.

Unless otherwise noted, light-rail, express and local bus routes operate according to Saturday schedules on Reduced Service dates. (Routes with no service on Saturdays may operate on a limited schedule.) 

In practice, that means there are usually about 20 percent fewer local bus trips and about one-third the number of express bus trips. Light-rail service is reduced less than 10 percent.

Several morning and afternoon Northstar trips are also eliminated on Reduced Service dates, since around 93 percent of those who use the commuter rail line are traveling to work or school.

Metro Transit considers historic ridership patterns when deciding whether and when to reduce service. When there was an observed holiday on Monday, July 5, 2010, ridership decreased about 60 percent compared to the rest of the weekdays that week. Service on that date was reduced by around a third. 

Service is also reduced on holidays to reflect lower demand.

Reducing service on these lower-demand days provides cost-savings that can be re-directed to other needs.

Even if service is reduced customers can continue to use NexTrip, which provides predicted real-time departure information using GPS data from in-service buses. The Transit Information Center is also open.

Reduced and Holiday service schedules are available on metrotransit.org and are also published in Connect, the on-board newsletter.

Service adjustments may be made based on customer feedback. Customers with specific concerns are urged to Contact Us

Light Rail METRO Blue Line

New paint brings new life to light-rail trains 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, June 11, 2015 12:00:00 AM

Brooks Letourneau and Robert Whebbe apply tape before another round of painting on a light-rail vehicle.When light-rail vehicle 113 pulled into Metro Transit’s body shop earlier this spring, it was clear a decade of service had taken its toll.

Scratches and dents were visible up and down each side of the vehicle. Paint was flaking in several spots and, along the bottom, rust was starting to show.

But after a few weeks the train was looking as fresh and clean as it did when it went into service when the METRO Blue Line opened in 2004. To observers, it could even be mistaken for one of the newer Siemens trains that went into service when the METRO Green Line opened.

Such transformations have become a point of pride for the group of electro-mechanic technicians who are working through a refresh of all 27 Bombardier light-rail vehicles, each of which has more than 700,000 miles on their odometers.

More than half of the older Bombardier light-rail vehicles have already been through the body shop and the entire fleet will be restored and repainted by early 2016.

While every light-rail vehicle presents its own unique challenges, the attention to detail remains the same in all cases.

When a light-rail vehicle comes into the body shop, it first goes through a rigorous cleaning. After that, lights and other components are removed and, in some cases, replaced with sturdier equipment that will better withstand another 20 years of all-weather service.

Dents are repaired and scratches are filled before the light-rail vehicle is sanded. When ready to be repainted, the train is moved into a specially-equipped booth, taped and sprayed with layers of yellow, black and blue over the course several days.

The trains are being painted with the same colors and design of the newer Siemens trains, so there is consistency across the fleet.

For Jorge Otanez, one of four electro-mechanic technicians in the body shop, removing the tape at the end of the painting makes all the work that preceded it worthwhile.     

“The personal satisfaction is when you are actually untaping and you can see all the colors meet together,” he said. “You see it and it totally looks like a different train.”

Restoring and re-painting the bodies isn’t just about cosmetics, but about taking pride in the vehicles and giving customers a positive impression when they ride.

“We want our customers to be proud of the vehicles they’re in,” said Chris Royston, Manager of Light Rail Vehicle Overhaul and Special Projects. “They’re a reflection of our service and our organization, so it’s important that they represent us well.”

    > Our vehicles    

    > Light-rail vehicles ready for all seasons 

    > New light-rail vehicles begin service

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

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