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Accessibility Bus From the GM

Accessibility improvements ensure system works for everyone 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, July 26, 2018 12:38:00 PM

Collage of disabilities

From General Manager Brian Lamb

As an organization, we talk a lot about how important transit is to providing access to opportunity. That’s particularly true for people with disabilities who rely on transit to live a full and independent life. 

Because we want transit to be inclusive, we continually ask ourselves whether we’re doing enough to welcome everyone who wants to ride, regardless of their abilities. 

We have good reason to think about what we’ve done and what we’ve set out do this week, as the Americans with Disabilities Act reaches its 28th anniversary. There’s a lot to be proud of, too.  ​

Over the past year, we’ve installed level concrete pads at dozens of bus stops to make boarding easier for individuals who use mobility devices. As we’ve installed new and replacement shelters, we’ve also addressed curbs and other physical barriers that make it harder to get to and around these stops.

Bus operators going from part- to full-time recently began taking classes in which they use blindfolds and ear protection to experience what it’s like to board and ride the bus without being able to see or hear.

Go-To Card readers on all our rail stations and buses have been equipped with audio cues while keyboards on A Line ticket vending machines were designed to better serve individuals with visual impairment.

Our new Text for Safety service allows suspicious behavior to be reported through text message, something that is especially useful for people who are deaf, blind or hard of hearing.

And just last month, we made it simpler to get a Limited Mobility fare card by removing the requirement to get a special endorsement on a driver’s license or state ID.

Our fleet has also steadily become more accessible over the years, with level boarding at light rail stations, buses with roomier interiors on our rapid bus lines and a nearly-completed phase out of high-floor buses.

Our system will become even more accessible in the years ahead, too.

Responding to customer feedback, future light rail trains will have a more spacious seating arrangement that provides more room for mobility devices.

A new station at I-35W and Lake Street will replace a highway-level stop once accessible only by a steep set of stairs with a modern, two-level facility equipped with elevators.

Transit Information hopes to test tactile maps, high contrast signs and larger text at select sites to invite feedback and determine if such features should be applied more broadly.

Our accessibility improvements directly benefit the roughly 1 in 10 regular route customers who reported having a disability in the Council’s latest survey of regional travelers.

But they also make our system better and easier for anyone who rides with us, including children, the elderly and caretakers traveling with strollers.

We’ve made a lot of progress in the nearly three decades since the ADA became law, and look forward to making even more improvements in the years ahead.

Learn more about Metro Transit’s accessibility features

Bus Light Rail

Rail lines on pace for another year of record ridership 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, July 19, 2018 3:14:00 PM

Passengers exit a Green Line train at Stadium Village Station in Minneapolis.Metro Transit’s rail lines are on pace to have another record year. 

Ridership on the Green Line, Blue Line and Northstar Commuter Rail Line is ahead of last year’s totals through the first half of 2018. All three rail lines saw record ridership in 2017

Northstar has seen the largest increase in ridership, which is up 5 percent through the end of June. Ridership on the Green Line is up 2.6 percent and ridership on the Blue Line is up 1 percent.

“Growing rail ridership is an indication that this region appreciates reliable, high frequency transit,” General Manager Brian Lamb said. “We’re thrilled to serve so many members of our community and look forward to building on this success moving forward.”

Systemwide, more than 39.6 million rides have been taken through the end of June. Total ridership is down 2.6 percent compared to the first half of last year. 

Gains in rail ridership have been offset by declining bus ridership, which is down 4.6 percent this year. The region’s first rapid bus line, the A Line, has seen a 5 percent increase in ridership compared to last year. 

Metro Transit is focused on building bus ridership by expanding service in areas with strong demand, improving customer facilities and focusing on speed and reliability. 

In June, limited stop Route 54 service was introduced to St. Paul’s East Side, providing customers a one-seat ride from Maplewood Mall to the Mall of America. Service has also been expanded on routes serving the Interstate 35W corridor, providing travelers a stress-free way of getting around during road construction. 

In August, Route 2 will become a faster, more reliable and attractive service with the elimination of nearly 30 stops with relatively few boardings and new waiting shelters in key locations. Route 2 will be further improved next year with signal technology that prioritizes buses at intersections. 

In 2019, the region’s second rapid bus line, the C Line, will bring enhanced stations, fully-electric buses and faster, more frequent service to a key corridor now served by Route 19. 

“We are doing everything we can to deliver the fast, frequent and reliable bus service our customers deserve,” Lamb said. “As the A Line has shown, quality bus service can and will succeed in our region.”

Metro Transit’s total annual ridership has grown in 10 of the past 13 years and is at its highest level in three decades.

 
Mode Total Rides Average Weekday
Ridership
Percent Change
Compared to 2017
Green Line 6,570,037 40,820 + 2.6%
Blue Line 5,261,735 31,571 + 1%
Northstar 393,052 2,824 + 5%
Bus 27,416,637 182,404 - 4.5%
Total 39,641,461 257,620 - 1.6%

 

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

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