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Minneapolis Transit Police

Sincerity, soft touch earns officer top cop honors 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, March 28, 2018 1:37:00 PM

Growing up, Tim Lawrence often used his stature to stand up to bullies. He went to school to become a teacher. And one of the first jobs he took was as a skycap, traveling and interacting with people from around the world.

The experiences didn’t seem to point toward a career in law enforcement. But at 28 years old, he realized they could all be of use as a police officer in a large and diverse area like the Twin Cities.

So the Hastings native decided to turn his attention toward becoming a cop and went back to school. After acing his first class, he was convinced he was onto something.

Nearly a decade later, Lawrence stood before his family and his peers and was recognized as Metro Transit’s officer of the year. The award is presented annually to an officer who exemplifies the department’s principles.

Days after that celebration, Lawrence stood in a small substation at the Chicago-Lake Transit Station and reflected on what the award meant.

“I’m not doing this to get recognized,” he said. “I do police work. That’s my job. I’m honored to get it, but it’s just another day.”

Lawrence’s humility isn’t surprising. Fellow officers describe him as a soft-spoken, matter-of-fact individual known for quiet displays of empathy and a steady, calm demeanor.

When an infant was kidnapped last summer, it was Lawrence who stayed with and consoled the distraught mother. A chance encounter on a frigid Christmas night sparked a years-long relationship with a homeless individual who often sought refuge on light rail trains. And while assigned to Lake Street, he persistently visited with business owners, using his limited Spanish to build trust in the community.

“He genuinely likes to help people, and you don’t see that very often anymore,” said Sgt. Jeremy Rausch, who nominated Lawrence. “Even with all the challenges we have, he hasn’t lost his soft touch. He cares about people who are less fortunate and that shows every day that he comes work.”

Lawrence is now in his sixth year as a patrol officer with Transit Police. He’s spent countless hours riding the Blue Line, worked overnights and helped train three new hires as a Field Training Officer.

He’s currently among a team of officers who patrol the west metro from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. His time is spent largely in Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center, monitoring busy boarding locations, responding to calls for service and riding buses.

While it’s a broad territory, Lawrence said he takes serving the community personally. “Even though this is a huge jurisdiction, this is my area and I take full responsibility for that,” he said.

That’s especially true in North Minneapolis, where Lawrence is perhaps better known as a coach than as a police officer.

That part of Lawrence’s story started three years ago, when he was riding the bus and ran into a former classmate he played football with at Bethel University. The teammate was now coaching at North Community High School and said it would be great to work together.

That interaction led to a call from Charlie Adams, the head football coach at Minneapolis North Community High School. Lawrence was offered and immediately accepted a job as a line coach.

He’s since been embraced by student athletes and parents, some of whom he sees while on the job.

“It’s been a great opportunity for these kids and their parents to see me out of the uniform and begin to see cops as human beings,” Lawrence said. “It also gives me a chance to see where they’re coming from and what I need to do to earn their respect.”

Lawrence hopes to build similarly warm relationships with all those he encounters. But he’s more interested in the personal satisfaction that comes from these positive interactions than the kind of acclaim he received last week.

“You get a chance to do one good thing and it rejuvenates you and makes it all worthwhile,” he said. “I’m not doing these things for recognition. I’m just doing what any human being should do.”

 > Learn more about the Metro Transit Police Department's annual awards 

Metro Transit Police Department Awards Ceremony March 2018

Bus From the GM Minneapolis

Nicollet Mall revamp puts transit back at the center of downtown 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, November 30, 2017 10:34:00 PM

From General Manager Brian Lamb

For the past two years, construction has prevented us from using one of the most important and popular features of our transit network – Nicollet Mall

Moving six of our busiest local bus routes to Hennepin Avenue – bringing 800 more daily trips to a street already full of buses, cars, pedestrians and bicyclists – brought its share of challenges.

I want to extend a sincere thank you to everyone who moved with us from Nicollet to Hennepin, and to all those have stuck with us through all of the road and light rail construction downtown in recent years. 

Hopefully, like me, you’re excited about what all this work means for our city center. 

The Nicollet Mall project has brought new lighting, more than 200 trees, public art and other improvements, creating a much richer and pedestrian-friendly environment. Later this year, we’ll build on the city's reconstruction efforts by putting in a dozen new shelters with heat, light and real-time displays.

Hybrid buses and free rides on some routes will also remain features of our Nicollet Mall service. 

And while the remake of “Minnesota’s Main Street” is significant, transit improvements are being made throughout the downtown area. 

We’ve added to our downtown shelter network and spruced up our light rail stations. We’re putting the finishing touches on track and system improvements that will improve light rail operations downtown. And we’ve worked with partners like the Downtown Improvement District on creative placemaking efforts at several of our busiest stops. 

There’s more to come, too. 

Next year, construction will begin on a new transit-only access ramp that will make it easier for express and Orange Line buses to get in and out of downtown. Our next two rapid bus lines, the C Line and D Line, will also provide faster, more frequent service to and from downtown. 

These improvements come at an opportune time. 

Increasingly, downtown is not just a home to major employers but a place to live, dine, shop or take in a show. The Super Bowl and other future large events will also bring more visitors and attention to our downtown area. 

With so much going on within just a few square miles, transit is more than a nicety, it’s a necessity. 

Thank you again for sticking with us through all the recent construction. We hope our customers enjoy the new Nicollet Mall and join us in looking forward to all the other improvements that lie ahead. 

Nicollet Mall History

Nicollet Mall opened in 1968, championed and largely funded by a group of downtown business owners intent on competing with suburban shopping centers like the newly-opened Southdale Mall. It was the first of many transit malls that would eventually be built for similar reasons in large U.S. cities. 

When Nicollet Mall opened, it was served by routes 17 and 18. Several other routes later operated on the mall, including Route 10, and express buses to Richfield, Bloomington and Minnetonka. 

Nicollet Mall was also briefly home to a downtown circulator known as Quick Transit, or QT, which began in 1971. The propane-powered QT minibuses ran along Nicollet Mall until 1980. 

To reduce the number of buses traveling on the mall, express routes were moved to Marquette and Second avenues nearly 20 years ago. Today, the mall is served by routes 10, 11, 17, 18, 25 and 59. Prior to construction, there were around 12,500 average daily boardings on Nicollet Mall. 

Free rides have been available on select Nicollet Mall routes since 2010 (southbound routes 10 and 59 and northbound Route 18).

C Line Minneapolis Rapid Bus Network

Region's second rapid bus line moves forward 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, September 29, 2017 9:16:00 AM

The region's second rapid bus line, serving downtown and North Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center, is moving forward.  

The Metropolitan Council on Wednesday approved a budget amendment that brings the total amount of funding committed to stations and other improvements for the C Line to $20 million. The budget is a combination of federal transportation money and Council bonds.

“Securing funding for the C Line is an important milestone for this critical project, which will improve the experience for thousands of residents who rely on transit to access opportunity,” Council Member Gary Cunningham said. 

The action follows a recent announcement of a $1.75 million Federal Transit Authority grant that will help secure at least six battery electric buses​ for the C Line. The C Line fleet will include at least 12 60-foot buses. The project’s base fleet is funded and the Council is looking for ways to secure additional battery electric buses and related charging equipment.

The C Line is on track to be under construction in 2018 and to open in 2019.

C Line buses will operate between downtown Minneapolis and the Brooklyn Center Transit Center, largely replacing local bus service on Route 19. Like the region’s first rapid bus line, the A Line, customers will enjoy faster, more frequent service and enhanced stations.

A 60-foot articulated bus that looks like a rapid bus is currently simulating service in the C Line corridor to help planners create a new schedule (customers cannot board the bus). C Line service is expected to be at least six minutes faster than existing local bus service. 

Bus Carpool Community In the News Minneapolis Rider Profile Rideshare

Awards recognize sustainable transportation leaders 

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

Beth Reissenweber, far right, with colleagues from Augsburg University at the 2017 Commuter Choice AwardsWhen Augsburg University 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 University 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 University

Augsburg University 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 University 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

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