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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. 

From the GM METRO Green Line Minneapolis Safety St. Paul Transit Improvements

Green Line progress on track 

| Wednesday, September 11, 2013 2:00:00 PM

From Brian Lamb, Metro Transit General Manager

The Minnesota State Fair is over but our planning for next year’s event is already underway. One of the most changes we’re preparing for: light-rail connections from the METRO Green Line.

The Green Line’s role in next year’s State Fair service is just one example of the myriad ways transportation in the Twin Cities will change when the region’s second light rail line begins operating.

We’re getting closer to that new reality with every passing day, too. Green Line construction is 96 percent complete and testing is well underway. Light-rail vehicles have been towed the full length of the new track and trains have run on energized segments of the line through the University of Minnesota campus.

Here’s a snapshot of where the project stands today:

> Infrastructure: In August, ground was broken for an enclosed connection that will provide access between the Central Station and skyway system in downtown St. Paul. Over the next several months, more overhead wire and equipment will be installed and ticket machines, NexTrip display signs and security cameras will begin appearing at station areas. Staff will be at Sunday’s St. Paul Open Streets event to provide tours and answer additional questions about these station areas.

> Vehicles: To date, we’ve received nearly half of the 59 new type II Siemens light-rail cars that will be used on the Green and Blue lines. Twenty of these light-rail vehicles have already been put into service on the Blue Line while more are being tested and certified each week. Support vehicles will also be required to maintain and operate the line. In October, we expect to receive a new vacuum truck that will be used for clearing street-embedded track on the Green and Blue lines. Equipment that will be used for snow clearance and overhead line maintenance is also arriving.

> Outreach: A public safety campaign that urges pedestrians and motorists to be aware around stations and construction ares was rolled out earlier this year. As testing activities accelerate, we will focus the campaign more heavily on safety around trains themselves and continuing to share this message with schools and other groups located on and near the line. 

> Service: More trips on several connecting bus routes were added in late August, giving customers an early opportunity to become acquainted with the new bus schedules over the months ahead. It’s expected that more than one-third of Green Line rides will be transfers from buses. A comprehensive plan for optimizing bus service in the Central Corridor area was completed last year. 

> Personnel: About half of the 176 new jobs – from rail supervisors to technicians to track maintainers and helpers – have been filled. Nine Green Line train operators have begun training and by the end of the year the majority of the 61 new operators will have moved over from our bus operations division.   

In both obvious and subtle ways, the METRO Green Line will change the fabric of the Twin Cities. We at Metro Transit hope you’re looking forward to it as much as we are.

Bus In the News Light Rail METRO Green Line On the METRO St. Paul Transit Improvements

St. Paul connections go every direction, including up 

| Thursday, August 29, 2013 1:12:00 PM

Construction on a new vertical connection between the METRO Green Line’s Central Station and the St. Paul Skyway is now underway.

The connection was celebrated Wednesday morning in St. Paul as disability advocates and downtown business leaders joined officials from St. Paul, Ramsey County and the Metropolitan Council for a ceremonial groundbreaking at the corner of Fifth and Cedar streets, where the connection will be located.

Expected to be completed in time for the opening of the METRO Green Line, the verical connection will serve as a link for commuters while improving accessibility at the Central Station.

The vertical connection is just one part of a suite of transit improvements planned for downtown St. Paul.

Planning is also underway to improve bus boarding areas at Cedar Street and Fifth Street, Fifth Street and Minnesota Street, Sixth Street and Cedar Street and Minnesota and Sixth Street in mid-2014.                                                                                 

New shelters, public art, security upgrades, real time arrival signs, lighting, bicycle amenities and landscaping are planned for each of the stops, which together see more than 6,000 daily boardings.

Stations at Fifth Street and Minnesota Street and at Sixth Street and Cedar Street will also be built to accommodate ticket vending machines and other components of Arterial Bus Rapid Transit, planned for West Seventh Street and East Seventh Street.

A $3.2 million federal grant is paying for the station improvements and a share of the vertical connection.

This week, service was expanded on a dozen Metro Transit bus routes serve downtown St. Paul, including routes 21, 54, 62, 64, 68 and 74.

> METRO Green Line

> Downtown St. Paul Transit Improvements

> Metro Transit expands bus service in St. Paul, East Metro

> Pioneer Press: St. Paul Skyway elevator, downtown bus stop improvements planned

Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line METRO Red Line On the METRO Transit Improvements

METRO Blue Line marks ninth anniversary 

| Wednesday, June 26, 2013 6:50:00 AM

For the last four years, Lisa Nguyen-Gaulke has relied on the METRO Blue Line to reach her job in downtown Minneapolis, a trip she estimates takes half the time she’d spend commuting by car from her Standish-Ericsson home.

Nguyen-Gaulke also uses the Blue Line to get to Twins games or other weekend events and as an easy connection to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Combined with their bikes, Nguyen-Gaulke’s use of the Blue Line allowed she and her husband to downsize to a single vehicle two years ago.

“It makes a big difference, especially with gas as high as it’s been recently,” Nguyen-Gaulke said this week.

Nguyen-Gaulke is among a growing number of residents who – nine years after the Blue Line’s opening and more than 30 years since it was first envisioned – have come to see light rail as an integral part of their daily lives.

As the Blue Line marks another anniversary today, here's a quick snapshot of how the state's first light rail line is performing and a look at what is yet to come.

  • > Ridership is exceeding expectations. Nearly 10.5 million customers boarded Blue Line trains in 2012, a record number of passengers for the 11-mile light rail line. Ridership levels have been trending nearly 30 percent ahead of projections for the year 2020. In Metro Transit's 2012 Customer Survey, 60 percent of respondents said they were on their way to work; 15 percent were running errands and 9 percent were on their way to school. Riders said they chose transit because they had no access to a vehicle, wanted to avoid stress and avoid gas and parking expenses. More than 42 percent of passengers have ridden for more than five years and more than 90 percent rated service as “good” or “excellent.”
  •  
  • > Development is surging. At the north end of the Blue Line, housing and office projects are planned or underway in the North Loop and near Target Field. Directly adjacent to the Nicollet Mall Station, a 26-story apartment building is rising from the ground -- the first high-rise in Minneapolis in 30 years. Plans to add offices, green space and apartments near the site of the new Vikings Stadium are taking shape. East of the 38th Street Station, a 180-unit apartment building, Longfellow Station, is nearing completion. And in Bloomington, plans for a 50-acre transit-oriented development around the Bloomington Central Station are taking shape as the Mall of America continues to expand.
  •  
  • > Property values along the corridor have been strengthened. Single-family homes within a quarter-mile of the Blue Line have sold for 4.2 percent more than homes in a comparison area, with values increasing an average of $5,000 per home. A 2013 study found home values within a half-mile of hi-frequency transit like the Blue Line performed 48 percent better during the recession compared to those farther away.
  •  
  • > Connectivity is growing. With the opening of the METRO Red Line last weekend, customers in the south metro have access to a frequent, all-day service connecting to the Blue Line at the Mall of America Transit Station. In 2014, the METRO Green Line will provide light rail passengers with a convenient connection to St. Paul and the University of Minnesota. When the Interchange transit hub adjacent Target Field opens next spring, connections between transit services, including the Northstar Commuter Rail line and bus service, will further improve. Future connections include the Snelling Bus Rapid Transit Line, which would run from the 46th Street Station and along Snelling Avenue to Rosedale Center, and the Green Line Extension, which would run light rail between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie.
  •  
  • > Service will continue to improve. A dozen new light rail vehicles have been added to the Blue Line fleet in the past few months, providing service with all three-car trains during peak periods and special events. The vehicles are designed to be more energy-efficient and comfortable for passengers. Planned streetscape improvements on Hiawatha Avenue will make the corridor more inviting to pedestrians and bikers. And reconfigured traffic signal technology will help move traffic more quickly along Hiawatha Avenue. A growing police force will provide additional law enforcement presence throughout the entire Metro Transit system.
Bus Express Bus Suburban Transit Transit Improvements

New home for Metro Transit in the works at Southdale 

| Tuesday, June 18, 2013 10:15:00 AM

Renovations at Southdale Center have come to a close, but transit improvements surrounding the historic Edina shopping mall are just beginning to take shape.

As part of a larger redevelopment of the area around the 57-year-old retail space – the country’s first enclosed shopping center – Metro Transit is relocating, expanding and enhancing its Southdale Transit Center. Work on the new transit center began in early June.

    > NEW: Southdale Transit Center Now Open!

The new transit center will be located at the southwest corner of York Avenue South and West 66th Street, near the entrance to J.C. Penney. Features will include heated shelters, a rain garden and a Park & Ride with 130 spaces – a 27 percent increase from the previously-used Park & Ride at York Avenue South and West 69th Street. On average, the Southdale Transit Center sees 800 passenger boardings each weekday.

Real-time NexTrip departure signs, security features and two electric vehicle charging stations are due to be installed in the future.

The move enables the old Park & Ride site to redeveloped into a 10-story, 232-unit apartment building, One Southdale, which is scheduled to open in summer 2014. The apartment project follows a $19.1 million overhaul of Southdale Center that has drawn a host of new stores. 

The new transit center is just the latest iteration for Metro Transit’s Southdale presence.

Southdale was served at its opening by Route 6, with hourly service on France and Xerxes avenues. It became the first shopping center in the region to draw multiple buses when 66th Street Crosstown service was added in 1957. That crosstown service continues today as Route 515, which runs to Bloomington and the Mall of America Transit Center. For many years, customers who crossed city lines to reach the mall paid a separate fare when entering Edina.  

Southdale also hosted one of the area’s first Park & Ride lots, has been a longtime hub for service to the Minnesota State Fair and was a starting point for one of the region’s original express services, Route 578. Route 578 service to downtown Minneapolis continues today, along with another express service, Route 579, which travels between Southdale and the University of Minnesota. SouthWest Transit’s Express Route 684, which runs from Chanhassen to the University of Minnesota, also stops at Southdale.

This is Metro Transit’s fourth move at Southdale. Its transit stop was originally located on the northeast side of the mall and was later moved to the southwest and southeast corners.

In the News Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Transit Improvements

New light rail vehicles begin service 

| Wednesday, February 20, 2013 10:24:00 AM

photo of new light rail vehicle in minneapolisLast week, two new light rail vehicles (LRVs) began revenue service on the Hiawatha Light Rail Line. Siemens model S70 light-rail vehicles (numbered 201 and 202) were introduced to the Twin Cities in a public ceremony last October and have been tested extensively since that time. Four additional Siemens LRVs are currently undergoing pre-service testing. These six are the first of 59 new LRVs scheduled for delivery over the next several months to operate on the METRO Green Line and for enhanced service on the METRO Blue (Hiawatha) Line. Forty-seven of the new LRVs will operate on the Green Line and twelve will operate on the Blue Line. The new LRV delivery will ultimately provide both lines with enough LRVs to operate three-car trains during peak times and special events to meet growing ridership demands.

 

Photos show the two LRV models side by side. The train in back is the original Bombardier model and the new Siemens model is in front.

photo of new light rail vehicle siemens minneapolis

 

 

 

 

 

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