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Posts in Category: Bus

Bus Safety

Born in Twin Cities, Bus Roadeo becomes enduring tradition 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, September 13, 2019 12:42:00 PM

Bus operators who compete in Metro Transit's Bus Roadeo are continuing a tradition that began with a simple idea nearly a half-century earlier.

Mike Hughes became a bus operator for what was then known as the Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC) in 1972. After a few years, he moved into the executive department and offered a suggestion.

"I always thought it'd be great to find out who the best driver in the system was so I came up with this idea that we should have a skilled driving competition," Hughes said. "I proposed the idea, and six months later I was called up to the office. They pulled out my memo and said, 'We decided we want to do this and, since you came up with the idea, you can put it together.'"

Hughes left the the MTC in 1984 and recounted his role in the Roadeo's history from his home in Grand Rapids, Minn.

After getting the go-ahead, Hughes spent the summer of 1975 figuring out what the competition would look like. Like today, it included a written test, pre-trip inspection and a course where operators weaved through cones, drove in reverse and completed other maneuvers that demonstrated how precisely they could handle the bus.

Around 80 operators participated in the first competition, held in the parking lot of the old Metropolitan Stadium in September 1975. Police officers from around the region served as judges.

"When you're doing something for the first time there's always that little shadow of doubt and you wonder, 'Is this going to work?'" Hughes said. "But when we all got together for breakfast before the event, I just knew this was going to be a great thing and it was."

Thirty top finishers competed again in a second round held at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Hughes can't recall who won, but photos from the award competition ended up on the front page of American Public Transportation Association's monthly newsletter.

After that publicity, transit agencies across the country began calling MTC asking for advice on hosting competitions of their own. To help spread the idea, Hughes put together a guidebook and spent several years on a national organizing committee.

APTA hosted its first international Bus Roadeo in 1976 in San Francisco, Calif. Top bus operators from across the country have been competing annually ever since. The competition also now includes technicians.

Looking back, Hughes, who has never competed himself, said he never imagined his idea would become so widespread or enduring. "I didn't know how far this would go, if it would be a local event or what would be the deal," he said.

Repeat Roadeo champ earns another title

View the list of Metro Transit Bus Roadeo champions

Bus State Fair

Another successful year of State Fair bus service  

Posted by John Komarek | Friday, September 06, 2019 5:00:00 AM

The Minnesota State Fair started with record-setting attendance, including August 23, where 17.4% of fair-goers rode transit to and from the Fair, helping make another record year for express and local route service. On any given day, between 12-17% of attendees rode transit to the fair.

The Bloomington express lot had the largest ridership increase, gaining more than 15,000 rides compared to last year.  This is an increase of over 16%, and total rides were nearly 110,000. 

Parade Stadium and Maplewood Mall Express Bus Park & Rides also had an increase of 30% more riders than the previous year.

In all, Metro Transit provided 595,000 rides to and from the fairgrounds over the course of the fair.

Three express lots were discontinued this year due to construction – Knox Avenue, Oakdale, and Fridley. 

State Fair Edition of Hey! Where Does this Bus Go?
Local comedian Tane Danger met up with fair-goers boarding express buses at the Maplewood Mall Transit Center & Park & Ride last week. Watch Danger take a turn as a Metro Transit ambassador and catch up with a woman who's been attending the fair for more than 80 years in the latest edition of "Hey! Where Does This Bus Go?"

 

Bus

With Auggie Pass, students pay a little, ride a lot 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, September 03, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Augsburg University undergraduates can ride transit as often as needed this school year, without facing significant expense, thanks to a first-of-its-kind program advocated by students. 

For the first time, all undergraduate day students who pay the school's Green Fee can use an Auggie Pass to take unlimited bus and light rail rides. Augsburg's student government approved a $5 fee increase to help cover program costs. The school is also contributing operating funds. 

This is the first time a Twin Cities college or university has automatically provided transit passes to all eligible students, equitably expanding access to transit. 

“As someone who uses the bus every day, it’s great not to have that financial burden,” said Skye Rygh, who advocated for the program as a student government member. "It’s really economically advantageous to students who pay for school, like me, to not have to choose between textbooks and bus fare.”

The Auggie Pass is part of an ongoing effort to promote sustainable, economical transportation options at Augsburg. The school has also hosted transit tours and other educational events to increase awareness among students, faculty and staff. 

Augsburg's West Bank campus is served by the METRO Green Line, METRO Blue Line and multiple bus routes. 

More than 30 area colleges will offer College Passes this year. College Passes allow students to ride as often as needed for $165 per semester. 

“Efficiently connecting people to school, work and other destinations is at the heart of what we do,” Metro Transit General Manager Wes Kooistra said. “We are excited about this partnership and hope it develops into a model that can be duplicated.”

Bus Community

Artwork highlights the connection between transit, regional parks 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, June 20, 2019 3:39:00 PM

Large, colorful monarch butterflies may give you a ride to a regional park this summer.

Metro Transit has wrapped two buses, dubbed Nature Connectors, with a beautiful painting designed by Minneapolis muralist Greta McLain and created in her studio, GoodSpace Murals. The painting prominently features monarch butterflies.

The buses are now traveling on routes that lead to some of the region’s most popular regional parks – Minnehaha and Theodore Wirth in Minneapolis and Como and Lake Phalen in Saint Paul – as part of an effort to highlight the connection between transit and parks.

A map highlighting the routes that serve select regional parks can be found at metrotransit.org/parks. Temporary sidewalk clings featuring butterflies will mark the path between each park and select bus stops.

“Helping connect folks to our amazing natural resources is beautiful and important work,” McLain said. “This is a huge honor for us.”

The Nature Connector buses are the brainchild of Amanda Lovelee, regional parks ambassador for the Metropolitan Council. Lovelee’s role is to help raise awareness of regional parks.

“We have so much nature in our cities that is accessible by walking, bicycling and transit,” Lovelee said. “These buses will capture people’s imaginations and help draw attention to the marvelous network of regional parks throughout the metro area.”

Butterflies are a continuing theme in the work of GoodSpace Murals.

“Butterflies are an easily accessible, powerful symbol,” McLain said. “They migrate every year. They represent immigration – current immigration, our ancestors who immigrated. And they connect us to the natural world.”

The painting McLain created for the Nature Connector buses also includes images of two South High School students who she met in an art class.

One of those students, Hodan Ahmed, loved the class and since landed a summer job working in McLain’s studio. While Hodan hasn’t yet seen the wrapped bus, she saw a photo of the mural and said that her portrait is a “really good” likeness.

Earlier this week, one of the wrapped buses was used to bring students from the Matthews Recreation Center to Minnehaha Park, where they met with a naturalist from the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board.

Additional events will be held throughout the summer.

Learn more

View the map of routes serving the Theodore Wirth, Minnehaha, Como and Phalen regional parks at metrotransit.org/parks. For additional trip planning help, call 612-373-3333.

 

 

 

Awards Bus Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Minneapolis Safety

Sarah Gibson claims Rail Rodeo crown with calm demeanor 

Posted by Laura Baenen | Tuesday, April 23, 2019 1:42:00 PM

Rail Supervisor Connie Skinner (top left) scores Train Operator Sarah Gibson during Metro Transit's 2019 Rail Rodeo. Train Operators Joe Bretto (top right) and Mose Mahir (bottom right) perform pre-trip inspections during the contest.

Train Operator Sarah Gibson’s laid-back approach won her Metro Transit’s Rail Rodeo crown last Saturday.

“I really didn’t do much to prepare. This is what I’ve been doing for five years now so operating a train is almost second nature, and I’ve always been pretty good at written tests,” said Gibson, who has worked for Metro Transit for seven years, the first two as a bus operator.

Gibson will represent Metro Transit at the American Public Transportation Association’s International Rail Rodeo in Toronto in June. She also was named the Green Line’s Garage Champion, a new award this year, and won a jacket.

Joining her in Toronto will be fellow Train Operator Joe Bretto, who placed third. Train Operator Paul Gillespie placed second but is unable to attend.

During the skills competition, operators were judged on the thoroughness of a pre-trip inspection and their operation of a light rail vehicle in the rail yard and on the Blue Line. They also took a written exam on light rail rules and had to pass a uniform inspection.

This wasn’t Gibson’s first Rail Rodeo. In 2017, the only other time she’s competed, she finished third. She was also a finalist in the 2013 Bus Roadeo.

Gibson is taking the same relaxed approach to the international competition that she took to the local one.

“I enjoy my job and do it the best I can every day, so I suppose I’ll just keep doing that,” Gibson said.

Gibson’s family will join her in Toronto to cheer her on. They also hope to catch a Toronto Blue Jays game since the team will be at home during the competition dates.

Meanwhile, Metro Transit’s reigning Bus Roadeo champion, Heywood Operator Jack Berner, will compete in APTA’s International Bus Roadeo in May. This is expected to be Berner’s final Roadeo before retirement. He has won Metro Transit’s Bus Roadeo seven of the past 12 years.

Metro Transit’s annual Bus Roadeo will be held in St. Paul on Saturday, Sept. 14, Tuesday, Sept. 17, Wednesday, Sept. 18 and Thursday, Sept. 19.

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