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Awards Bus Safety

Bus operator training efforts receive national recognition 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, May 11, 2018 9:57:00 AM

Metro Transit’s efforts to improve safety through repeated and enhanced operator training have earned national accolades.

The American Public Transportation Association awarded Metro Transit with a Certificate of Merit at its Bus Safety & Security Awards this week. The awards recognize programs or projects that lead to documented success.

The Certificate of Merit acknowledges a range of training efforts led by the Safety Department, including:

  • > The use of on-board video footage to provoke conversation about avoidable safety incidents among new operators and operators going from part- to full-time. 
  • > Safety conferences with operators for all responsible and non-responsible collisions.
  • > Regularly-scheduled Safety Keys courses, coupled with customized training focused on winter driving, pedestrian and bicycle safety and distracted driving.

“The innovation is not that there is training, but rather that the training takes many forms, and is repeated, data driven, measured and season-specific,” Director of Safety Mike Conlon said.

There were 2.88 collisions for every 100,000 bus passenger miles in 2017, a historic low. The rate is especially notable since nearly half of bus operators have been at Metro Transit less than five years.  

In 2017, Metro Transit earned a Gold Award in APTA’s Rail Safety & Security Awards for outreach efforts related to light rail safety. 

Learn more about other recognition for Metro Transit and its employees

Bus Bus Rapid Transit E Line Minneapolis

Bus-only lanes to be piloted on Hennepin Avenue 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, May 10, 2018 2:33:00 PM

A southbound Route 6 bus rolled past traffic during the morning rush hour on Wednesday, May 16. Bus-only lanes were created on sections of southbound and northbound Hennepin Avenue for three days to test their impact on travel times, reliability and traffic. Bus customers who travel on Hennepin Avenue know traffic moves slowly when the street is full of vehicles. In fact, during rush hour, buses travel an average of just six miles per hour.

Exploring ways to provide faster, more reliable service, Metro Transit and the City of Minneapolis will test bus-only lanes on a portion of the corridor between Tuesday, May 15, and Thursday, May 17. Data and public input will be collected during the pilot to evaluate impacts and determine next steps.

What’s happening? 

A northbound bus-only travel lane will be created by restricting street parking on the east side of Hennepin Avenue between 26th Street and Franklin Avenue each morning from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. A southbound bus-only travel lane will be created by restricting parking on the west side of Hennepin Avenue between 26th Street and the Uptown Transit Center each evening from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. 

Parking meters will be marked in advance of the parking restrictions and vehicles that have not been moved will be towed. The bus-only travel lanes will be marked with traffic delineators that will be removed during off-peak hours.

All Hennepin Avenue bus routes will use the bus-only lanes. Customers who board at stops adjacent to the bus-only lanes will see no changes at their boarding locations.

Why is this pilot being undertaken?

The bus-only lane pilot will help answer three key questions:

 > What are the changes in travel time and reliability?

 > What is the reaction from riders, neighborhood residents, businesses and other property owners?

 > Are there other improvement strategies that would complement the bus-only lanes?

What are the expected advantages?

Bus-only travel lanes are used in many large cities to help buses move more efficiently through busy urban corridors. In the Twin Cities, designated bus-only shoulders allow buses to bypass traffic on more than 200 highway miles. The Marq2 corridor also uses bus-only lanes to provide bus riders safe and efficient access in and out of downtown Minneapolis.

Faster, more reliable bus service makes transit a more appealing alternative to driving alone. The Hennepin Avenue bus-only lanes are expected to improve consistency and save a few minutes of travel time in either direction. The benefits would be even more pronounced when snow or other unforeseen incidents create heavier traffic than usual.

Why Hennepin Avenue?

With 400 daily bus trips, Hennepin Avenue is one of the region’s busiest transit corridors. More than 3,300 people board buses between Lake Street and Franklin Avenue each weekday. During peak periods, nearly half of the people traveling on Hennepin Avenue are on a bus.

Metro Transit is also planning for future rapid bus improvements on Hennepin Avenue. Planning for the E Line will begin with a corridor study in 2018. Like the A Line on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul, the E Line will provide faster service, enhanced stations and larger vehicles.Bus only lanes could also be incorporated into the project. 

Pending full project funding, the E Line could be under construction as soon as 2022, in coordination with other street construction projects in the corridor. The E Line is on track to becoming the region's fifth rapid bus line. 

Share your feedback

Awards Bicycle Bus Metropass Minneapolis

Commuter Choice Awards recognize promoters of sustainable transportation 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, May 02, 2018 1:40:00 PM

When Thrivent Financial began considering building a new corporate center in downtown Minneapolis, the company had to find ways of helping employees who relied on parking lots that would be lost during construction.

Part of their answer: Promote transit.

Over the past year, the company has invited employees to six commuter education events, including bus and light rail demonstrations. Thrivent also further offset the cost of using transit by increasing its Metropass subsidy, leading to a 40 percent increase in program participation.

The efforts were undertaken in partnership with the Minneapolis-based Transportation Management Organization Move Minneapolis and with financial support from Hennepin County’s Green Partners program.

“The Thrivent workforce lives throughout the Twin Cities area, and around 50 percent of them use some sort of transit or alternative commuting method,” said John Bachhuber, vice president of HR Services at Thrivent. “We’re pleased we’ve been able to help even more of our employees learn about ways they can get to work safely, cost-effectively and efficiently using available transit resources.”

For their efforts, Thrivent was recognized as the Employer of the Year at the annual Commuter Choice Awards on Thursday, April 26. The awards recognize companies, building owners, individuals and organizations that support sustainable transportation in the Twin Cities.

Metro Transit works with area Transportation Management Organizations (TMOs) to organize and host the awards. Other Commuter Choice Award winners include:

Building Owner/Management Company: Opus Group

Opus Group’s Nic on Fifth is the definition of transit-oriented development: its lobby level is fully-integrated into the Nicollet Mall Station, one of the busiest boarding locations in the Twin Cities. In addition to the Green and Blue lines, the building is served by nearly 100 bus routes. The high-rise apartment building, which opened in 2014, also offers secure tenant bicycle parking and a tenant ride-sharing program. 

Commuter Benefits Coordinators: Tim Bruzek and Ericka Palmer, Sleep Number

Tim Bruzek and Ericka Palmer helped nearly 1,000 Sleep Number employees understand their commute options when the company relocated from a corporate campus in Plymouth to downtown Minneapolis. During its move, Sleep Number joined the Metropass program and began offering carpool parking to employees.

Government Entity: City of Saint Paul

City staff worked with Saint Paul Smart Trips-Transit for Livable Communities to make transit and biking more prominent features of the city’s transportation webpages. The city’s website also now provides real-time parking information during large events, allowing people to make more-informed, real-time decisions about their travel choices.

Commuter Champion: Sean Hayford Oleary

Sean Hayford Oleary has led the charge for better bicycle facilities in Richfield for several years. He was the founding member of Richfield Bike Advocates and has served as a commissioner on the city’s transportation commission. As commissioner, he helped advance plans for 2.5 miles of protected bike lanes on 66th Street – the longest stretch of such bike lanes in Hennepin County. 

Honorable mention: Anne Schultz, Richfield Chamber of Commerce President

Organization: Native American Community Clinic

The Native American Community Clinic has been an active promoter of the Transit Assistance Program, which provides qualifying low-income residents reduced-cost fares. More than 70 members of the Native American community have enrolled in the program with help from clinic staff. 

Honorable mention: Ravoux Hi-Rise Resident Council, University of Saint Thomas Sustainable Communities Partnership

Learn how Metro Transit and area TMOs can help promote transit and other alternatives to driving alone 

Commuter Choice Awards 2018

Bus How We Roll

How We Roll: Jovita Oghumah 

| Wednesday, April 18, 2018 10:15:00 AM

Jovita Oghumah, Assistant Manager-InstructionMany Metro Transit employees are committed to sustainable transportation, riding the bus or train, biking or walking to work and other destinations across the region.

These “How We Roll” profiles illustrate how much we have in common with our customers when it comes to how we get around. See you out there!

Jovita Oghumah, Assistant Manager-Instruction

How do you get to work?

I walk about a mile and half from my house to the Highway 610 & Noble Parkway Park & Ride in Brooklyn Park. I take Route 768 to downtown Minneapolis, catch a light rail train to Target Field Station, then walk the rest of the way to the Instruction Center. In inclement weather, my wife drives me to the Park & Ride in the morning and picks me up in the afternoon. I walk to meetings at Heywood, take the Green Line to meetings at Robert Street in St. Paul, and carpool to work meetings at other sites or use the Instruction Center official van.

Why do you choose to take transit to work?

I have been taking a combination of bus and light rail to work consistently since last summer. The benefits for me are immense. I get regular exercise from walking – frequently taking more than 10,000 steps a day. I save some wear and tear on my personal vehicle and I am free from the stress of driving in rush hour traffic. It gives me a chance to meet and interact with many of our operators outside of a garage or Instruction Center setting. I drove the bus for 20 years. It’s nice and relaxing to watch somebody else drive.

Metro Transit makes it easy for me to ride the bus to work by providing me with a free transit pass. In addition, the frequency of the service on Route 768 accommodates my bus rides to and from work. I don’t stress if I missed a scheduled trip because I know another bus is not far away.

How do you use sustainable transportation in your personal life?

My wife and I always take the bus to downtown Minneapolis for any shopping, sporting or entertainment event we attend. Our goal is to avoid the expense and hassles associated with parking downtown. When we take our children to the Mall of America on weekends or go to the airport we always take the Blue Line. The convenience is immeasurable. That’s why we can’t wait for the Blue Line Extension to Brooklyn Park to be up and running (the extension will extend north to Brooklyn Park).

Bus Light Rail

Metro Transit applauded as "the only way to get around" in historic blizzard 

| Sunday, April 15, 2018 9:43:00 AM

A Metro Transit operator picks up Route 64 customers in St. Paul during a blizzard on Saturday, April 14, 2018.More than a foot of snow fell across the Twin Cities on Saturday, bringing the region its first blizzard in 13 years and snowfall totals not seen in more than three decades. The rare April weather led the Twins to call off a pair of home games, a temporary closure of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and hundreds of crashes on area roadways. 

Metro Transit’s buses and trains stayed on the move, however.

“Our operators, maintenance staff, supervisors, police and many others banded together in the face of extraordinary circumstances,” General Manager Brian Lamb said. “Their efforts were essential to allowing those who had to travel the ability to do so safely.”

Not that there weren’t some challenges along the way.

Around 200 buses were rescued after becoming stuck over the course of the day and on Saturday evening. Light rail trains faced some delays as rail lights and signals were obscured by the fast-falling snow. At the worst point, seven bus routes were on snow detour and 75 percent of buses were significantly delayed. 

Even so, customers applauded the effort to maintain service.

"The bus driver saved my entire evening," said Minneapolis resident Kris Millner, who rode the bus home from work Saturday evening. "Once onboard, we passed 10 stuck vehicles, including trucks and semis. While slipping from time to time, this man had everything under control. He never had a severe setback...he was my personal hero tonight."

"Our bus driver was just great and incredibly helpful with our questions!" said another customer who took Route 4 on Saturday evening. "I cant believe how positive and kind he was in the middle of a snow storm."

If you witnessed Metro Transit staff going above-and-beyond, please give us a call or submit a commendation online

Crews are now out clearing snow as quickly as possible. Here's a refresher on how snow removal is prioritized

Stay up-to-date on any additional service impacts by by signing up for Rider Alerts or by following us on Twitter or Facebook.

Photo by Metropolitan Council photographer Jeff Syme. 

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