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Posts in Category: Minneapolis

Bus Community Minneapolis

Waiting for the bus while lounging in the ‘Living Room’ 

| Thursday, October 22, 2015 9:49:00 AM

Pillows, a chess board, markers, books and string lighting aren’t the kinds of things people are usually surrounded by while waiting for a bus.

But a new temporary shelter that went up this week in Minneapolis incorporates all of those things, part of a broader and continuing effort to enliven public spaces in the downtown core.

The temporary shelter – called “Living Room Station – Your Home Before You Get Home” – is located at the corner of South Sixth Street and Nicollet Mall, where more than 1,000 people board a bus each weekday.

Its installation is the product of a partnership between the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District and Metro Transit, which hope to gain some lessons learned that will shape future placemaking efforts not just at boarding areas but across downtown.                                 

The “Living Room Station” near Nicollet Mall was designed by the Musicant Group and constructed with help from Onyx Cycles, a manufacturing company based in North Minneapolis. Rider feedback collected by the Youth Coordinating Board's Street Outreach Team helped inspire the design.

“In our built environment, everything can be so hard and synthetic,” said Max Musicant, the founder and principal at the Musicant Group. “Our use of durable but natural materials and color creates a sense of welcoming and invitation that I think is often missing.”

The shelter will be up through at least the end of the month and there will be live entertainment at the site each weekday from 3:30-5 p.m. (see schedule below).

Another project – which might or might not include a physical shelter – is in the works for a boarding area at South Sixth Street and Second Avenue South, outside the Capella Tower.

Ben Shardlow, the DID’s Director of Public Realm Initiatives, said downtown’s high-traffic boarding areas each present unique opportunities. Because of that, he said property owners, customers and other stakeholders should work together on innovative solutions.

“Our focus is on places that aren’t working as well as they could, and working together on novel solution that meet the need,” he said.

The project comes as Metro Transit replaces shelters in the City of Minneapolis that were privately owned until last year. New and replacement shelters are also being installed through the Better Bus Stops program.


"Living Room Station" Schedule of Events

> Friday, Oct. 23 – Singing in the Rain: music and umbrella escort from the station to the bus   

> Monday, Oct. 26 – Pumpkin Carving: decorate the Living Room for the holidays!

> Tuesday, Oct. 27 – Family Game Night: board games while you wait for the bus

> Wednesday, Oct. 28 –Singing in the Rain: music and umbrella escort from the station to the bus 

> Thursday, Oct. 29 – House Party: Live accordion, free apple cider and a good time

> Friday, Oct. 30 – Trick or Treat at Living Room Station!


    > DID: Living Room Station offers activities, new environment

    > Star Tribune: Temporary downtown Mpls. bus shelter offers the comfort of home

    > Smaller shelter shown off at State Fair

    > On West Broadway, shelters get a steward


Photo: Free cards and flowers were provided at "Living Room Station" on Wednesday, Oct. 21. View more photos courtesy The Musicant Group here

Community METRO Green Line Minneapolis St. Paul

At one-year mark, Green Line going strong 

| Monday, June 15, 2015 5:09:00 PM

Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb at Central Station, celebrating the Green Line's one-year anniversary.For the last eight months, Aaron Martin has used the METRO Green Line to get to not one but two jobs – one at the Town Hall Brewery in Cedar-Riverside and another at the Oceanaire in downtown Minneapolis.

The ease of his commutes is a near-daily confirmation that he made the right decision moving last fall to an apartment in St. Paul’s Hamline-Midway neighborhood, where he can walk just a few blocks to the Fairview Avenue Station.

“I get frustrated with traffic, so the trains are really a godsend for me,” Martin said as he traveled westbound on his way to work.

Such stories have become commonplace since the Green Line opened a year ago. More than 11.1 million Green Line rides have been taken since light-rail service began on June 14, 2014, and average weekday ridership is nearly 25 percent higher than anticipated.

On Monday, Martin and other customers were invited to celebrate the Green Line's success by wearing Green Line anniversary buttons that can be used to receive discounts at businesses along the corridor (those who didn't receive a button can simply show retailers an image of it). Businesses and local leaders who had high hopes when the Green Line opened also took the day to reflect on how the Green Line has re-shaped the urban landscape. 

Standing alongside business owners and supporters at Central Station, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said he found it hard to believe the Green Line had been in service just a year given how much a part of the city’s character it has become.

He pointed to redevelopment projects in downtown St. Paul and along University Avenue as a testament to the Green Line’s “catalytic” effect and the promise it holds for helping “build on the future of St. Paul.” Around $3 billion in development has occurred or is planned within a half-mile of the Green Line.

General Manager Brian Lamb pointed to the ways the Green Line has expanded cultural and recreational opportunities, such as the new possibility of light-rail themed double-headers featuring the Minnesota Twins and the St. Paul Saints. (Several times this season, the Saints and Twins play home games on the same day, allowing fans to catch action at both transit-friendly ballparks.)

More importantly, though, Lamb said the Green Line has expanded access to opportunities.

A study from the University of Minnesota’s Accessibility Observatory released this week found that workers in St. Paul could, on average, reach over 2,000 more jobs by transit than they could before the Green Line opened. Job accessibility in some areas more than doubled due to the Green Line and improvements in connecting bus routes, the U of M study found.

“The Green Line is about more than rides, it’s about access,” Lamb said.

Though she doesn’t use the Green Line to get to work, St. Paul resident Dana Gehant values her ability to use the Green Line on her daily visits to her mother in Minneapolis. Like Martin, she grew tired of driving and gave up her car in favor of transit. Her hope now is that the Green Line will lead to further light-rail expansion in the region. 

“My only complaint is that it (the Green Line) doesn’t go further,” she said.

    > Mass Transit: Metro Transit has the Twin Cities seeing green

    > Green Line residents are enthusiastic about light rail

    > Connections ground businesses, arts on Green Line corridor

    > Green Line has been magnet for housing development

    > MPR: Green Line success driving transit, business hopes

    > Star Tribune: A year into Green Line, development on University Avenue is still looking to pick up speed

    > Pioneer Press: With Green Line, 2,000 more jobs accessible, study finds

Bus Community From the GM METRO Green Line Minneapolis Ridership St. Paul Transit Improvements

2014: A historic year for Metro Transit 

| Tuesday, December 30, 2014 3:16:00 PM

As we prepare to close the books on 2014, I’d like to briefly reflect on all of the incredible progress Metro Transit has made over the last 12 months. It was, in short, an incredible and historic year for our organization, our customers and our region.

With so much great work going on, it is impossible to capture everything that happened this year in a single column. The list that follows contains just a few of the year’s highlights. I hope looking back will inspire you to think about what transit meant to you in 2014 – and what it will continue to mean in the years to come.

METRO Green Line opens to immediate success

It would be impossible to talk about this year without talking first about the METRO Green Line, which opened on time and on budget on June 14. Despite a soggy couple of days, more than 107,000 rides were taken during the Green Line’s opening weekend.

That great introduction was only a hint of what was to come. By year’s end, we expect to provide around 6 million rides on the Green Line, well ahead of where we expected to be just six months into service. Ride the line today and you will see students, seniors, children and every walk of life sharing the ride as they travel to class, work, a Vikings game or to one of the many unique restaurants and shops in our downtown areas and along University Avenue. You’ll also see clear evidence that the Green Line is reshaping the land around it for the better.

The Green Line was decades in the making and there remains significant work to realize the vision that has been set for the Central Corridor. But just six short months since service began, it’s clear this transit project has had a major impact on our community.

Website redesign improves trip planning, mobile experience

A redesigned, mobile-friendly website that provides enhanced trip planning features and an improved interactive map was also introduced in June. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. By the end of the year, we expect to have had nearly 12 million website visits and around 7.5 million online trip plans – both record-setting numbers.

Sustainability efforts continue, win praise

A new Park & Ride in Brooklyn Park came as the latest sign of Metro Transit’s continuing commitment to sustainability. The 1,000-space Park & Ride that opened in August features a geothermal heating & cooling system, electric vehicle charging stations and a solar array that offsets energy use at the site.

Recognizing our ongoing efforts to reduce our environmental impact, the American Public Transportation Association in August placed Metro Transit among a distinguished group of 12 transit agencies to earn Gold Level certification through their Sustainability Commitment program.

Visitors from around the country experience transit network

In July, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game drew thousands of visitors to the Twin Cities, many of whom used Metro Transit to get around. Nearly 45,000 additional light-rail and Northstar rides were generated by events during All-Star Week, including around 6,000 rides on light rail to the All-Star Game at Target Field.

In September, the Rail~Volution conference drew another 1,400 people to the Twin Cities to explore transit and witness the development our system is inspiring. Our story is now being shared as an example in cities across the U.S.

On top of these special events we provided nearly 512,000 rides to and from the Minnesota State Fair and it’s new Transit Hub and doubled ridership to Minnesota Vikings home games at TCF Bank Stadium.

Metro Transit Police Department grows, becomes more diverse

The Metro Transit Police Department grew to more than 200 part- and full-time officers, allowing police to focus on community-based policing along the Green Line and to establish the Northside Community Policing Team, a new beat that is already having an impact North Minneapolis. The growth also led to new diversity, including the department’s first Hmong officer.

Taken together, these efforts and a continued commitment to our Guiding Principles will drive year-end ridership to around 84 million, a 33-year high.

That’s a significant achievement that all transit customers and supporters can be proud to have been a part of. While we celebrate how far we’ve come, we also recognize our work is far from over. In fact, much of the activity that occurred in 2014 was focused on setting the framework for future success.

As we look forward to 2015, I’m excited to see construction begin on our first arterial Bus Rapid Transit line, the A Line, and for service to begin later in the year. I’m also eager to see us expand our commitment to transit equity, enhance the customer experience through improved transit information and bus stop amenities and continue our sustainability efforts. 

Thank you for everything you did to make 2014 one of our best years ever. We look forward to serving you in 2015 and beyond. 

 

 

2014: The Year in Review


January

> Metro Transit announces 2013 ridership grows to 81.4 million, one of the highest levels in 30 years.

> Council Chair Sue Haigh delivers her State of the Region address, saying the region must “think regionally and act equitably” in order to grow.

> Transit Information Center representatives handle 118,521 calls, setting a new record for calls handled in a single month.

> Metro Transit’s Twitter account reaches 10,000 followers.

February

President Obama talks transportation at Union Depot.President Obama visits St. Paul and receives the METRO Green Line’s first honorary ticket.

A combination of rail and enhanced bus is recommended as the best long-term transit improvements for the Midtown Corridor.

Metro Transit starts sharing photos on Instagram.

March

Service begins on Route 30, a new bus route serving North and Northeast Minneapolis and connecting with the Green Line in St. Paul.

The American Public Transportation announced transit ridership is at its highest level in 57 years.

April

Metro Transit, Xcel Energy and the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce recognize Earth Day at the new Operations & Maintenance Facility in Lowertown.

The Twins season opens and a Twins Family Pass is introduced as a new cost-effective way of getting to the game.

Test trains begin full-schedule testing on the Green Line.

May

Target Field Station opens north of Target Field, providing additional boarding capacity on busy event days and creating a new public space in the North Loop neighborhood.

Several of Metro Transit’s retired buses are purchased for creative re-uses, including a new mobile learning center.

Thrive MSP 2040 approved by the Met Council, setting a framework for regional economic development. 

June

The METRO Green Line opens on time and on budget. “Often history is defined in terms of great moments of transportation and this is no exception,” Mayor Chris Coleman says at the ribbon-cutting.

Service improvements are made on several connecting bus routes throughout the Central Corridor, following years of outreach and planning.

20 new part-time officers sworn in as members of the Metro Transit Police Department.

Metro Transit’s top operators recognized at the annual Ovations Awards Ceremony, including the organization’s first 30-Year Elite Operator.

A new parking ramp and pedestrian overpass opens at Northstar’s Anoka Station.

Nicollet Mall Station as seen from The Nic on Fifth.The METRO Blue Line celebrates its ten-year anniversary.

July

Metro Transit serves events throughout All-Star Week, providing around 6,000 rides to and from the All-Star game at Target Field.

Met Council approves plans for A Line (Snelling Avenue BRT), which secures all necessary funding to begin construction and go into service in 2015. 

16 new full-time officers sworn in as members of the Metro Transit Police Department, bringing the department’s total number of officers to around 200. Approximately half of the new officers are bilingual, including the department’s first officer fluent in Cambodian.

August

The Highway 610 and Noble Parkway Park & Ride opens in Brooklyn Park. The 1,000-space Park & Ride includes solar panels and other sustainable features.

The Gophers and Vikings begin their home seasons at TCF Bank Stadium, served by the Green Line. Ridership to Vikings games nearly doubles from previous seasons.

A new State Fair Transit Hub opens on the west side of the fairgrounds, providing customers more convenient access. Record State Fair attendance helps boost ridership 15 percent, to nearly 512,000 rides. 

APTA awards Metro Transit Gold Level status for efforts to conserve energy at facilities and improve fuel efficiency.

Metro Transit and MVTA partner on a free ride promotion to help customers get to the new Twin Cities Premium Outlets, which opens near the METRO Red Line’s Cedar Grove Station in Eagan. Ridership reaches a new record 1,031 average weekday rides.

Metro Transit debuts new system map that is simpler and easier to read.

A record 529 Northstar tickets are sold online in advance of the Paul McCartney concert at Target Field.

Metro Transit’s re-designed website sees 310,317 unique visitors and the online Trip Planner is used 723,936 times, a new monthly record.

METRO Green Line Extension (Southwest LRT) receives municipal consent from all five cities along the proposed alignment.

Route 865 begins providing express service between downtown Minneapolis and Anoka County.

Jerry Olson, 2014 Minnesota Public Transit Association Bus Operator of the Year.September

Metro Transit Operator Jerry Olson is named Minnesota Operator of the Year by the Minnesota Public Transportation Association. Deputy General Manger Mark Fuhrmann recognized as Transit Professional of the Year.

U-Pass sales surpass 17,500, beating total sales from the fall 2013 semester.

Metro Transit awarded $3.14 million Ladders of Opportunity grant to make bus stop improvements.

Rail~Volution brings around 1,400 people to the Twin Cities for a week-long conference on transit-oriented development.

Green Line tops 1 million monthly rides for the first time.

Metro Transit launches its fall campaign, including a TV commercial highlighting transit's ease of use.

Residents begin moving into Nic on Fifth, a new 26-story apartment building directly adjacent to Nicollet Mall Station. The development leads to the creation of a new platform for light-rail customers (opening 2015).

October

Draft Service Improvement Plan outlining 10- to 15-year vision for local, express and suburban bus service improvements released for public comment.

Metro Transit buses travel an average of 9,971 miles between maintenance road call, a new record.

Car-sharing service Car2Go secures dedicated parking spaces at three Blue Line stations.

November

METRO Orange Line receives federal approval to enter project development, advancing the project toward a 2019 opening.

For the first time, Metro Transit and other fixed-route transit providers provide fre rides on Election Day.

Northstar trains take country music fans to and from all 11 Garth Brooks concerts at Target Center in downtown Minneapolis.

Met Council approves $6.5 million in Livable Communities grants to support transit-oriented development.

December

Metro Transit decorates buses and light-rail and Northstar trains with holiday lights and encourages customers to take “selfies” while riding.

Two new Park & Ride’s open on Interstate 35E with express service to downtown St. paul provided by Route 275.

Northstar Service Guarantee introduced, providing registered Northstar commuters fare refunds for any regularly-scheduled Northstar trip that is 11 or more minutes late in January. 

Community METRO Green Line Minneapolis Safety St. Paul University of Minnesota

Strong ridership defines first six months of METRO Green Line service 

| Tuesday, December 16, 2014 2:41:00 PM

There were around 6 million rides on the METRO Green Line during its first six months of service.Strong and growing ridership is the hallmark of the METRO Green Line’s first six-months of operation.

Customers have taken about 6 million rides since service began on June 14, including more than 1 million rides in both September and October. Average weekday ridership in November was 36,240, near the 2030 projection of 41,000 rides. 

“The community response to the Green Line is even better than we imagined,” Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said. “In less than one year of operation, the Green Line has clearly had a major impact on the way people get around, interact with and enjoy the Twin Cities.”  

Combined ridership on the Green Line and routes 16 and 94, which also serve the Central Corridor, has nearly doubled from last year. The Green Line replaced limited-stop Route 50 that ran on University Avenue and service was enhanced on several routes that connect with Green Line stations.

The most popular stops have been East Bank Station, in the center of the University of Minnesota campus, and Nicollet Mall Station in downtown Minneapolis. Stadium Village Station, near TCF Bank Stadium, has also become a hub of activity on gamedays. Around 25 percent of Minnesota Vikings fans took the Green Line to and from the game this season, double the ridership from previous years.

Combined with other rail and bus service, the Green Line is expected to drive Metro Transit’s total year-end ridership to around 84 million, the highest it has been since 1981.

In addition to strong ridership, the first six months of Green Line service are noteworthy for the focus on public safety, enhanced performance and community development.  

Metro Transit continued to educate pedestrians, motorists and others about light rail safety through presentations and a robust marketing campaign, including a billboard on University Avenue.

Transit Police hired 22 new officers to patrol the Green Line and the neighborhoods it serves. Transit Police say there has been no significant change in crime along the corridor since the Green Line opened.

Light-rail operations have also improved through coordination with local partners. Technology called predictive priority has been successfully implemented at 18 low-volume intersections along the Green Line corridor. Predictive priority gives trains their best chance of getting a green light, reducing the amount of time trains spend waiting at signalized intersections.

Transit-oriented development has also continued along the corridor.

Project for Pride in Living started construction in August on its 108-unit Hamline Station Project, which replaces a vacant auto dealership immediately north of the Hamline Avenue Station. On Dec. 19, Surly Brewing Co. will open its new beer hall just east of the Prospect Park Station.

In November, seniors began moving into The Terrace at Iris Park at Episcopal Homes’ new Midway Village development immediately south of the Fairview Avenue Station. In December, move-ins began at Midway Pointe, the second of three new residences at Midway Village. The third residence, Episcopal Church Home – The Gardens, will be ready for occupancy in January 2015.

Residents of the entire campus began using light-rail as soon as it opened, CEO Marvin Plakut said.

“Interest in our community increased even before the Green Line’s opening and continues to grow now that the service is up and running,” Plakut said. “People are excited by the freedom that waits right outside their door. Episcopal Homes is the only senior community that can offer it.”

    > New York Times: Despite cheaper gas, public transit ridership is up 

    > Explore the Twin Cities using our Green Line A to Z guide

    > Green Line tops 1 million rides, again

Bus Minneapolis Route of the Week Suburban Transit

Route 17: Avoiding the rush by taking the bus 

| Tuesday, July 08, 2014 11:50:00 AM

A Route 17 bus on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis. Every day for the last six years Charles Nelson has traveled across Minneapolis to see his wife at the nursing home where she lives near Lake Calhoun. Because the visits align with afternoon rush hour, he almost invariably elects to take the bus instead of battling traffic.

Watching cars idle on busy Lake Street, Nelson said he can’t help but wonder why anyone would want to drive under such conditions.              

“It just doesn’t make sense for me as a single person to be driving a car,” Nelson said as he traveled west on Route 17. “It’s not good for me or for the environment.”

Others on Route 17 similarly describe their use of transit as a practical, common sense response to the high costs of owning a vehicle and the pressures of Twin Cities traffic. On a recent weekday afternoon, passengers were found riding the bus to visit friends, get to work and avoid the hassles of driving to a Twins game at Target Field.

Such variety is common on the nearly 12-mile route because it serves so many distinct destinations.

Traveling westbound, Route 17 runs through residential and commercial areas of Northeast Minneapolis, across the 3rd Avenue Bridge and through the heart of downtown on Nicollet Mall. The route continues through Uptown on Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street and then continues west on Minnetonka Boulevard through St. Louis Park. Most trips end near Knollwood Mall, but some end near 36th Street and Wooddale on a branch that serves several large employers.

Bobby Watkins is among those who travel on Route 17 on a daily basis. Watkins lives in Northeast Minneapolis and takes the bus to get to his job at the Dairy Queen near 50th and France (transferring from Route 17 to Route 6 at the Uptown Transit Center).                                      

Watkins owned a vehicle for a few years but went car free three years ago when he faced an $800 repair bill. Instead of paying for car repairs, he puts his money toward a 31-day Go-To Card pass that allows him unlimited rides for $59 (rush-hour 31-day passes are $85 a month).

“The car just cost too much,” he said. “Breaking down once was about the same as a few months bus fare.”

Korissa Ebersole also uses transit as a way to save money. But as a new mother, she also likes the fact that she can cradle her seven-month-old child while riding the bus.

A passenger boards a Route 17 bus in St. Louis Park. “She really likes to be held and is a lot less fussy on the bus,” Ebersole said, returning downtown on Route 17 after having lunch with a friend.

Sitting next to Ebersole was Angela Record, who was headed to her job as a cleaner at Target Field. Record said she takes the bus to work and for most other trips because it’s a more relaxing, enjoyable experience.

“People don’t like to follow the rules of the road,” she said. “This feels so much safer to me.”

Rayla Heflin also sees the bus as a safer travel option. Heflin has a car but takes Route 17 to and from her jobs at Taco Bell and T.J. Maxx in St. Louis Park because she finds it hard not to look at her phone while driving. Riding the bus allows her to text, play games and listen to music all she likes.

“I try to limit it, but sometimes I get involved and miss my stop,” Heflin said. “I know if I was in the car and I was too focused on my device something a lot worse might happen.”

Bob Kelley also uses the bus as a way to keep himself in check. Car-free for the last three years, Kelley takes Route 17 to get to his job in Uptown and to visit friends in Northeast Minneapolis. Besides saving money on gas, insurance and car repairs, taking the bus also has a way of limiting his spending at the store.                       

“This helps keep my shopping trips to a minimum because I only buy what I can fit in my bag,” he said.

While many on Route 17 have made taking the bus a part of their daily routines, St. Louis Park resident Jane Nelson, her son and his girlfriend were making a rare trip to Target Field.

Looking to avoid traffic and parking, Nelson called Metro Transit’s Transit Information Center and learned Route 17 would provide a simple, one-seat ride to the ballpark.

“I just don’t know downtown very well so I thought it would be easier to walk to the bus stop than to try and figure out how to get around,” she said. “It was a lot easier to just go the four blocks to the bus stop.”

A Route 17 bus on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis. Route 17 At a Glance

Type: Urban Local

ServiceRoute 17 serves Northeast Minneapolis, downtown Minneapolis, Uptwon and St. Louis Park. Traveling southbound, buses run on Washington and Central avenues and through downtown on Nicollet Mall. Buses continue on Nicollet Avenue and 24th Street, stopping at the Uptown Transit Center on Hennepin Avenue before going to St. Louis Park on Lake Street and Minnetonka Boulevard (Route 17F goes south at Highway 7 to provide a connection to multiple employers in St. Louis Park). On the west end, Route 17 runs on Texas Avenue, serving Knollwood Mall and residential areas. Buses run every 5 to 15 minutes during rush hour, every 15 minutes midday and every 30 minutes in the evening. Service runs every 15 to 30 minutes on weekends and holidays. Service hours are approximately 5 a.m. to 2 a.m.             

Route Length: Approximately 12 miles

Stops: 123 eastbound, 125 westbound

Vehicles: 40-foot standard and hybrid-electric buses

Ridership: Approximately 2.1 million customer boardings in 2013, the ninth highest ridership among all Metro Transit bus routes.

History: Buses, including some of the first gas-electric models, began running on Nicollet and Hennepin avenues in the early 1920s. A streetcar line that ran from Hennepin and Lagoon avenues to Lake Street and Brownlow Avenue operated from 1892 to 1938. The Richfield Bus Co. operated buses on the far west end of what is now Route 17 until Twin City Rapid Transit took it over in the 1950s. The northeast section of the route is rooted in a horsecar line that opened in 1892 and ran from downtown Minneapolis to Broadway and Monroe streets, where Logan Park is now located. Horsecars were replaced with electric streetcars, which operated until 1954.

Future: Concept plans for the Southwest LRT project call for Route 17 to be extended to the proposed Blake Road Station.                                                              

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