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Awards recognize sustainable transportation leaders 

Posted by jennasbennett | Thursday, May 04, 2017 9:51:00 AM

Beth Reissenweber, far right, with colleagues from Augsburg College at the 2017 Commuter Choice AwardsWhen Augsburg College began building its new Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion in 2015, the college lost about 20 percent of the 1,000 parking spaces at its West Bank campus.

The sudden loss in parking led Beth Reissenweber, the school’s Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer, to take an active role in promoting a culture that placed sustainable transportation options ahead of driving.

To set the tone, she began commuting from Edina on Route 578.

“I thought it was really important to lead by example,” Reissenweber said. “I wanted to inspire others at Augsburg to try transit so I gave up my heated parking and started taking the bus.”

Reissenweber, also contacted Transit for Livable Communities and Metro Transit to create learning opportunities for her staff, including a light rail tour, Nice Ride bike rental education, and carpooling classes.

“Once construction started, we changed how we talked with our employees about commuting,” she said. “Instead of leading with parking options, we started leading with transit and multi-modal commuting options as the preferred method to get to work.”

Reissenweber moved the needle at Augsburg so quickly that she was recognized at Metro Transit’s annual Commuter Choice Awards last month with an honorable mention in the individual category. Augsburg won in the employer category.

Reissenweber attended last year’s awards to learn how to create a transit-friendly campus, and said she was delighted to come back a year later as a winner.

“I feel proud to be recognized for my small part in a huge undertaking for the college, and Augsburg’s award is a wonderful reinforcement of our passion to make a positive impact in our community,” she said.

The Commuter Choice Awards also celebrated efforts by several other building owners, employers and organizations that have supported sustainable transportation.

Among the other recipients were the Minnesota Orchestra, which offers discounts to bicyclists, and the building managers at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, which built a fitness center and bike storage area to encourage active commuting.

The awards were presented by Metro Transit in partnership with regional Transportation Management Organizations, including Commuter Services, Move Minneapolis and St. Paul Smart Trips. A panel of Twin Cities transportation experts and thought leaders evaluated the entries and selected the winners.

While Reissenweber was thrilled with the recognition, the real rewards have come from her experience using transit.

“I walk more, I feel more connected with my community, I save money, I’m less stressed, I’m helping the environment and I can multi-task while I get to work,” she said. “It’s such a win-win."

Photo: Beth Reissenweber, far right, with colleagues from Augsburg College at the 2017 Commuter Choice Awards


2017 Commuter Choice Award Honorable Mentions & Winners

 

Building Owner/Management Company

Winner: Minneapolis Grain Exchange, Inc. 

Minneapolis Grain Exchange, Inc built a new, state-of the-art fitness center with showers, changing facilities, and lockers. The new facilities complement the 700 square foot secure bike storage room; both the tenant businesses and their employers have found both amenities to be critical to the adoption of active commuting to the building.

Honorable mentions: McGough Facility Management/Butler Square and Wells Fargo

Commuter Benefits Coordinator

Winner: Brian Nelson, Best Buy

Brian Nelson led the expansion of commuter benefits at Best Buy stores across the country, providing access to pre-tax transportation accounts for all employees. Additionally, he oversaw the installation of electric vehicle charging stations at the corporate campus and established an official training for teleworkers.

Honorable mention: Samantha McKeough, HealthPartners

Employer

Winner: Augsburg College

Augsburg College lost a significant amount of parking for a construction project and employed a multi-tiered approach that engaged the campus community at all levels to change perceptions about transportation. Campus leadership implemented a broad set of proven travel demand management strategies which have led to a 76 percent increase in Metropass users along with noticeable growth in carpooling and bicycling.

Honorable mentions: Mall of America and Minnesota Literacy Council

Government Entity

Winner: Stop for Me Campaign

The Stop for Me Campaign was a yearlong collaboration among St. Paul neighborhood organizations, advocates, and police, working together to encourage safer, more courtesy driving behavior at intersections, crosswalks, and parking lots. Together the group held 60 crosswalk events during 2016 to raise awareness and improve pedestrian safety.

Individual

Winner: Marc Berg, Friends of the Downtown Minneapolis Bicycle Center

Marc Berg is founder of Friends of the Downtown Bicycle Center, sharing his vision for a public bike center in downtown Minneapolis with a many stakeholders and potential allies in the community. He has also organizing community support for bicycle facilities in St. Louis Park and is a volunteer with the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition.

Honorable mentions: Beth Reissenweber, Augsburg College and Nick Wright, Minnesota Life College

Organization

Winner: Minnesota Orchestra

The Minnesota Orchestra established the Bike to Orchestra Hall program, which offers a special 50% discount to future concerts to anyone who shows their gear at the Box Office. The program serves as an audience development effort that encourages people to come as they are and enjoy music comfortably.

Honorable mention: Minnesota Life College

Commuter Choice Awards

Bus METRO Orange Line Minneapolis

Key I-35W transit improvements moving forward 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, March 09, 2017 9:48:00 AM

A transit-only access ramp will allow buses to avoid congestion entering and exiting downtown Minneapolis as they travel to or from Interstate 35W.

Two key improvements included in plans for a new Bus Rapid Transit line on Interstate 35W will be built thanks to a key federal approval.

The Federal Transit Administration’s Letter of No Prejudice allows local funding to be used on a transit-only access ramp between downtown Minneapolis and I-35W (right) and a transit station​ at I-35W and Lake Street.

The improvements are part of plans for the METRO Orange Line, which will bring frequent, all-day BRT service to several new and existing stations along a 17-mile stretch of I-35W between Marq2 in Minneapolis and downtown Burnsville. Service is scheduled to begin in 2020.

“We’re excited to move forward with our partners on these critical improvements, which will benefit not just future Orange Line customers but thousands of people who travel on I-35W and Lake Street every day,” General Manager Brian Lamb said.

Like the station at I-35W and 46th Street, the Lake Street Station will be located in the middle of the interstate with two levels, an indoor waiting area and other amenities, serving Orange Line, express and local bus customers. The access ramp will allow 700 buses to avoid congestion entering and existing downtown each weekday. 

Efforts to secure full funding for the Orange Line are ongoing but the FTA’s approval is important because it allows the transit ramp and Lake Street Station to be incorporated into state-led construction efforts on I-35W beginning later this year.

Local spending on the ramp and station could later be matched by the federal government, which is being asked to cover half of the Orange Line’s total construction costs.​

Learn more about the Orange Line and subscribe to project updates here

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

METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Minneapolis

Work underway on new Nicollet Mall Station platform 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, October 05, 2016 2:30:00 PM

Efforts to complete a new platform at Nicollet Mall Station began this week.

Located immediately east of the northbound track, the platform was partially constructed in 2013 as work was underway on an adjacent 26-story apartment building, Nic on Fifth. The platform canopy was incorporated into the new development.

Crews with Morcon Construction are now installing windscreens and other furnishings that will allow the platform to be opened to the public. Go To Card readers and a ticket-vending machine will also be installed before the platform opens in March 2017. 

The additional platform is being built to provide a safer and more comfortable waiting area for customers at Nicollet Mall Station, the system’s second-busiest light-rail station. Through August, there have been nearly 4,400 average weekday boardings at the station.

Once the platform opens, doors on Blue and Green line trains traveling northbound toward Target Field will open on both sides of the train, allowing customers to enter or exit from either side.

This will be the first and only light rail station where customers can board or exit from both sides of the train.

A Line BRT Bus Community METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Minneapolis St. Paul State Fair

A Line opening sparks curiosity, enthusiasm 

| Tuesday, June 14, 2016 8:38:00 AM

Customers board the A Line at Snelling and University avenues on Saturday, June 11.Car free for the last five years, Michelle Quaranto relies on transit to travel between her home near the Green Line’s Raymond Avenue Station and her job in Eagan.  

So when the A Line opened on Saturday, she was eager to see how her commute would change once she was able to begin using the region’s first rapid bus service.

In the past, Quaranto took Route 84 between the Green Line’s Snelling Avenue Station and the Blue Line’s 46th Street Station. The A Line now offers faster, more frequent service between those two points.

“I really rely on transit to make my life better,” Quaranto said before boarding at Snelling and University avenues shortly after the A Line opened on Saturday, June 11. “Taking light rail to the 84 was usually my quickest option, and now it will be even quicker which is great.”

Several others who ventured out for their inaugural rides on the A Line were similarly excited about its arrival and the impact it would have on their daily travels.           

The first of a dozen planned rapid bus lines, the A Line runs between Rosedale Center and the Blue Line’s 46th Street Station on Snelling Avenue, Ford Parkway and 46th Street. Service runs every ten minutes and trips are up to eight minutes faster than regular route buses.

Trips are sped up through a combination of light-rail like features like off-board fare payments, technology that lets A Line buses request longer green lights at intersections and by locating stations a half-mile apart.

A Line stations also have heat, light, displays with real-time NexTrip transit information and security features more commonly found on light-rail.

“It really is kind of like riding a train,” said North St. Paul resident David Hull as he and his wife Roseanne traveled southbound from Rosedale Center for the first time.

Hull’s family of five shares two vehicles, so he was curious to see if he could relieve some of the demand by taking the A Line and the Blue Line to a new job at the Veteran’s Administration.

Tyler Schow, a downtown Minneapolis resident who frequently rides transit, noticed a difference even before boarding. “My favorite part is that you can see the bus coming from a distance and instead of stopping it just keeps coming,” Schow said.  

Bus operators picking up A Line customers for the first time were also enjoying the ride. “What I like about it is it’s very fluid,” Operator Roosevelt Scott said.           

Others trying out the A Line said it would make them more likely to explore the businesses along the corridor. Rosedale Center, Har Mar Mall, the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, Macalester College, Hamline University, Highland Park and Minnehaha Park are among the destinations served by the A line. The site of a planned major league soccer stadium is also located at University and Snelling avenues. 

“I like to explore different areas and this is a great way to do that,” said Onrai Terrell who ventured to the A Line’s opening from Eagan by taking the METRO Red Line, a Bus Rapid Transit service on Cedar Avenue, and the Blue Line.

Ted Davis, of the Midway Chamber of Commerce, touched on the importance of transit in attracting new businesses, workers and residents as he joined others celebrating the A Line’s opening . “This is how we compete on a global scale, by creating the kinds of places people want to come to,” he said.

Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said a network of rapid bus lines would extend the benefits across the region. A planned network of 12 rapid bus lines on busy urban corridors could ultimately account for a third of Metro Transit’s average weekday ridership.

Construction on the next rapid bus line, the C Line on Penn Avenue, is scheduled to begin in 2018

“If you can’t figure out how to move people and not just vehicles, we’re not going to achieve what we want to achieve in this region,” Lamb said. 


Metro Transit A Line Opening Day

A Line BRT Bus Minneapolis

'Night Owl' service expanding to serve late-night commuters 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, June 09, 2016 12:20:00 PM

Overnight service is being added to routes 10 and 18 beginning Saturday, June 11. Routes 10 and 18 will join a growing network of routes with 24-hour service beginning Saturday, June 11. 

On Route 10, trips between downtown Minneapolis and the Columbia Heights Transit Center will be added at 2 a.m., 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. On Route 18, trips between downtown Minneapolis and 48th Street and Nicollet Avenue will be added at 3 a.m. and 4 a.m.

The service improvements come after overnight trips were added to routes 64 and 74 earlier this year. Routes 5 and 19, and the METRO Green Line also provide "Night Owl" service, with trips throughout the overnight hours.

Cyndi Harper, Manager of Route Planning, said the service improvements will benefit commuters traveling to or from work during the overnight hours.    

“As we become more of a 24-7 economy, it is important that transit users can access jobs at non-traditional times, especially in the service industry, at hospitals and at the airport,” Harper said.

Among the other changes taking effect on Saturday, June 11:

Weekend service added to Route 30

Saturday and Sunday service will be added to Route 30. Trips will operator every hour from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., every half hour from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and every hour from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. each day. Route 30 was introduced nearly two years ago to provide a direct route between north and northeast Minneapolis. Ridership has continued to grow since its introduction.

A Line opens, Route 84 service reduced

Route 84 service will be reduced as customers can use the new rapid bus line, the A Line, which follows the same routing. Route 84 trips will operate every 30 minutes from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekdays; from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Buses will no longer travel west to Minneapolis but instead operate between the Rosedale Transit Center and the intersection of Shepard Road and Davern Street, in St. Paul.

The A Line will operate between 4 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. daily, with service every ten minutes throughout the day and every 30 minutes at night. Trips are expected to be up to 8 minutes faster than Route 84 service.

Running-time adjusted on express routes

Running time adjustments will be made on 31 routes that operate on the Marq2 corridor in downtown Minneapolis and five other routes. Schedules on routes 265 and 860 will also be adjusted to reflect the opening of the new MnPASS lanes on Interstate 35E.

Bus Minneapolis Route of the Week

Route 11 joining Hi-Frequency Network 

| Wednesday, March 16, 2016 11:03:00 AM

As a Northeast Minneapolis resident, Angela Washington rides Route 11 nearly every day to get to and from her work as a caretaker in south Minneapolis. 

On more than one occasion, she’s missed the bus and found herself waiting. And with service every half-hour during the day it isn’t always a short wait, either.

“If you miss the 11, you’re donezo,” Washington said during a recent northbound trip home. “It’s like, ‘Oh my goodness, call a helicopter because I have to get to work.’”

Now, though, Washington and others who ride Route 11 won’t have to wait nearly as long as they used to.

Beginning on Saturday, March 19, a portion of Route 11 will join the Hi-Frequency Network – a collection of high-ridership, urban routes with trips every 15 minutes throughout the day on weekdays and on Saturdays. There will be 30-minute service during the evenings and on Sundays.

Parts of routes 5, 6, 10, 18, 19, 21, 64, 84, 515 and all of Route 54 are also a part of the Hi-Frequency Network, along with the METRO Blue and Green lines.

The improvements on Route 11 effect only a portion of the service – between the I-35W and 46th Street Station and 29th Avenue NE and Grand Street NE. Trips that continue to the Columbia Heights Transit Center will operate every 30 minutes.

Route 11 was targeted for improved service because of residential and commercial growth in Northeast Minneapolis. It will also provide a better alternative for customers who are further from Central Avenue, where Route 10 operates, and routes 18 and 5 in south Minneapolis.

In south Minneapolis, Route 11 runs largely along Fourth Avenue South; in Northeast, the route crosses the Hennepin Avenue bridge and continues north on Second Street NE.

The majority of Route 11 customers travel to or from downtown Minneapolis, but it is also used as a crosstown service for those like Washington who travel to destinations outside the core.

“There are a lot of residents and jobs along the corridor, and offering a higher level of service makes transit more competitive with other alternatives,” Planner Kyle Burrows said. “Transit becomes a much more convenient and attractive option when service is so frequent you don’t have to consult a schedule.”

Among those looking forward to the increased service is Adam MacGregor, who uses Route 11 to get downtown for work and school throughout the week. “The benefit for me will not having to get places so early, because if I wait for the next bus a lot of times I’ll be late,” he said.

Dorothy Mulen, who has used Route 11 for the last 14 years, was even more enthusiastic. 

“Amen,” she said after missing her bus and boarding after an extended wait. “Every 15 minutes? I might just faint.”


Route 11 At a Glance

Type: Urban Local

Service: Route 11 runs between the I-35W and 46th Street Station in south Minneapolis and Northeast Minneapolis, with service on Fourth Avenue South, Hennepin Avenue, Second Street NE, Lowry Avenue NE and Grand Street NE. As part of the Hi-Frequency Network, trips run every 15 minutes during the day on weekdays and Saturdays and every 30 minutes on nights and on Sundays. Service is provided between 4:30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. every day of the week. There are trips every 30 minutes to the Columbia Heights Transit Center. 

Route length: Approximately 10 miles

Stops: 88 northbound, 91 southbound

Vehicles: 40-foot standard and hybrid-electric buses

History: Both 4th Avenue South and 2nd Street NE were served by horsedrawn streetcars, and later by electric streetcars. From 1910 to 1939, 2nd Street NE also hosted the Minneapolis Anoka & Cuyuna Range streetcars that followed East River Road and Coon Rapids Boulevard to Anoka, the predecessor to Route 852. When bus service began, Route 9 operated on 4th Avenue South and Route 18 operated on 2nd Street NE. 


Other service changes taking effect on March 19

• To improve service in the northwest metro, Route 721 will improve from 60- to 30-minute service on weekends and operate an hour later on weekdays. On Route 724, 30-minute service will also start earlier on weekends.

Route 46 will be extended to Opportunity Partners in Minnetonka for select trips. This extension, combined with a connection to existing Route 18 service on Nicollet Avenue, will replace Route 568.

• Two mid-day trips will be added in each direction on Route 467, with service between downtown Minneapolis and the Kenrick Avenue Park & Ride in Lakeville. This service is a preview for the METRO Orange Line (BRT on I-35W).

• For the first time since Marq2 opened in 2010, running time will be added and some bus stop assignments will be moved to better balance the number of buses in each stop group.

• On Route 3, downtown-to-downtown trips will begin earlier in the day and continue through 1:15 a.m., all days of the week. The number of weekday trips that cover only portions of the route will be reduced.

In addition to these service changes, pocket schedules for routes detoured to Hennepin Avenue will be updated to reflect actual travel times and NexTrip information will become more accurate for these routes. There will also be some minor trip time adjustments to these detoured routes. 

For a complete list of service changes, pick up Connect or visit metrotransit.org.

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