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Posts in Category: Awards

Awards

Long-serving planners, operator recognized for their service 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, October 10, 2019 2:23:00 PM

Senior Planners John Dillery, Steve Mahowald and Scott Thompson, who shared a Distinguished Career Award; recently retired operator Theresa Collins, who was named Minnesota Bus Operator of the Year.Four long-serving Metro Transit employees were recognized for their contributions by the Minnesota Public Transit Association (MPTA) this week. The recognition came at MPTA's annual awards banquet, held Wednesday in St. Paul.

Operator Theresa Collins, who retired in August, was named the Minnesota Bus Operator of the Year. Senior Planners Steve MahowaldScott Thompson and John Dillery shared MPTA's Distinguished Career Award. 

Collins was recognized for a 30-year career that began when she was among the agency's few female operators. That gender imbalance and years of overnight shifts created some challenges. But Collins relished the opportunity, treating her passengers like family and befriending her peers. 

"It wasn't always easy, and I was very young, but I knew I was going to do this job until I retired," she said shortly after she retired. 

Collins also never missed a day of work, was among the first operators to be assigned to the METRO A Line and served on several committees. She remains an active member of the ATU Local 1005. 

Combined, Mahowald, Thompson and Dillery have devoted more than 120 years of service to Metro Transit. Their experience is valued not just by their peers in Service Development but throughout the organization. 

"They bring such a breadth of knowledge, both in terms of transit as an operation and from the customer perspective," Director of Service Development Adam Harrington said. "They really provide a lot of leadership both within the department and throughout the agency." 

Their reputation as leaders is rooted not just in their years of service but also in the way they blend history, research and their own experiences as customers throughout their work. 

During their tenures, the planners helped make the case for higher frequency service in densely populated areas and advocated for the development of express service to and from suburban Park & Rides. Until that point, less frequent service had been provided over a much wider area. 

The planners also helped make it easier to combine trips by creating schedules with timed transfer points at transit centers and other key locations.   

Dillery played a key role in shaping bus service on Interstate 35W and adjusting service when the METRO Blue Line opened in 2004.

Mahowald was the lead service planner for the Marq2 project, which created bus-only lanes and improved customer facilities in downtown Minneapolis. 

Thompson led the effort to improve bus service in the Central Corridor and created service plans for two important St. Paul transit hubs, the Smith Avenue Parking Ramp and Union Depot. 

Seeing their work play out in real time has been one of the most satisfying part of the jobs, the planners said. "I've never been that interested in writing reports," Thompson said. "I need more immediate gratification." 

Although their knowledge has grown, the planners always return to the fundamentals that were imparted during the early parts of their careers. 

The foundation of their work: spending time in the field making first-hand observations, fulfilling one of Mahowald's credos: "Know the territory, know the territory, know the territory." 

Thompson, Dillery and Mahowald aren't ready to close the books on their careers just yet. But after more than four decades, Aaron Isaacs, who helped recruit and train the planners, said their legacies have been well-established. 

"These three have shaped the transit system to a greater extent than anyone else in Metro Transit's history," he said.

 > Awards & Recognition

 > Know Your Operator: Theresa Collins

Awards Bicycle Community Metropass

Commuter Choice Awards celebrate sustainable transportation leaders 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, May 07, 2019 2:53:00 PM

Metro Transit recognized sustainable transportation leaders at the 2019 Commuter Choice Awards.A bakery that boasts of being St. Paul’s only carbon-free carb delivery and a YMCA that rewards members for working out on the way to their workouts were recognized as area mobility leaders this week.

Metro Transit and Transportation Management Organizations (TMOs) celebrated their efforts, along with several others, at the annual Commuter Choice Awards. The awards were presented on Tuesday, May 7, at the University of Minnesota.

Brake Bread, based on St. Paul’s West Seventh Street, was named Organization of the Year. The Midway YMCA, on University Avenue, received an honorable mention in the same category.

Formed in 2014, Brake Bread makes as many as 80 deliveries a day using an electric-assist bike with a trailer attachment. In 2018, they eliminated an estimated 11,000 car trips by relying on bike delivery. Brake Bread also supports customers who bike to its store by participating in the Bicycle Benefits program.

Leaders at the YMCA Midway and YMCA Blaisdell, its sister branch, instituted the Clean Commuter Club in 2018 to encourage members to walk, bike or take transit to the gyms. Members who do not drive to the gym are rewarded with guest passes and other perks.

Metro Transit works with TMOs like Move Minneapolis and Move Minnesota to encourage the use of transit and other alternatives to driving alone. The Commuter Choice Awards were introduced more than a decade ago to celebrate government entities, building owners and individuals who support sustainable transportation.

Nominations are reviewed by transportation and human resources professionals, public officials and advocates. Others recognized at this year's Commuter Choice Awards were:

Employer: Quality Bicycle Products

Quality Bicycle Products of Bloomington offers many benefits to encourage sustainable commuting, including contributions to Health Savings Accounts and credits for bike parts, accessories and apparel. “HealthPartners estimates that Quality Bicycle Products saves $170,000 per year in health care costs by investing $45,000 in incentives,” the company said.

Employer Honorable Mentions: SPS Commerce, University of St. Thomas

Commuter Benefits Coordinator: Heather Galvin, Kari Scanlon

When Rally Health relocated, Heather Galvin worked with Metro Transit to enroll the company in the Metropass program. Kari Scanlon, director of human resources for Touchstone MH, also worked with Metro Transit to join the Metropass program.   

Commuter Champion: Katie Peters

When I Work accountant Katie Peters has coordinated outreach events with Move Minneapolis, organized the company’s Metropass participation and helped lead World Car-Free Day activities. When I Work is in the Ford Building, just east of Target Field Station.

Commuter Champion Honorable Mention: Dana DeMaster

Government Entity: Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board

Board staff responded to the opening of the METRO Green Line and other Capitol-area investments by prioritizing transportation management in an updated comprehensive plan. The plan will serve as a reference for developers and property owners seeking board approval.

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

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.

Awards

Maple Grove Transit named state’s System of the Year 

Posted by John Komarek | Monday, October 22, 2018 12:27:00 PM

Maple Grove Transit was recognized this week as a leader among Minnesota transit agencies.

The Minnesota Public Transit Association announced Maple Grove Transit as its “System of the Year” during its annual conference on Monday.

The award follows decades of continued growth for Maple Grove Transit, which is led by a group of commissioners and customers.

Twenty years ago, there were just seven buses in Maple Grove’s fleet, with service between a few suburban churches and downtown Minneapolis. Today, there are about 40 Maple Grove Transit buses based out of the Martin J. Ruter Garage.

Metro Transit has been a contracted provider for Maple Grove Transit’s express bus services for the past 30 years. Staff from Metro Transit’s fare collections, street operations and customer relations departments also support Maple Grove Transit.

In 2017, customers took 836,000 rides on Maple Grove’s express bus routes.

“Our growth has been tremendous,” Transit Administrator Mike Opatz said. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without the help of the community members in our transit commission, the city council, front-line employees and Metro Transit. We thank them all for their continued partnership.”

Among several recent innovations is a service that allows Maple Grove Transit customers who leave their vehicles at a park and ride to have it picked up for service during the day.

 

 

Awards

Light rail leader named top transit professional 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, September 14, 2018 10:58:00 AM

Joan Hollick, Interim Director-New Starts Projects, at Target Field Station in Minneapolis. A leader in Metro Transit’s efforts to expand light rail in the Twin Cities has been recognized as one of the transit industry’s top young professionals.

Joan Hollick, who is serving as the interim director of Metro Transit’s New Starts program, is included on Mass Transit magazine’s annual Top 40 Under 40 list. The magazine published its tenth annual list of top professionals this week.

Hollick joined Metro Transit in 2015 as a deputy project director for the Green Line Extension. In this role, she was responsible for the budget, grants, environmental agreements and data management, among other areas.

She was named interim director of Metro Transit’s New Starts program following the retirement of Deputy General Manager Mark Fuhrmann. As interim director, Hollick is overseeing both the Green Line Extension and Blue Line Extension projects.

The Green Line Extension will bring light rail from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie. Construction on what will be the largest public works project in state history is set to begin later this year. Service is scheduled to begin in 2023.

The Blue Line Extension will bring light rail from Minneapolis to Brooklyn Park.

Hollick grew up in south Minneapolis, in a neighborhood that would later be served by the METRO Blue Line. She earned her undergraduate degree at Loyola University and a master’s in public policy and administration at Northwestern University.

After three years with the Chicago Transit Authority, she returned to Minnesota to work on the Green Line Extension.

“When I came home to visit, I could see how dramatically the neighborhood had changed for the better since the Blue Line opened in 2004,” she said. “Joining the Green Line Extension project was an incredible opportunity to leverage my experience in transit and make a positive impact on my community.”

While there have been challenges, Hollick has remained optimistic about bringing additional light rail service to the Twin Cities.

“We have overcome so many obstacles to advance projects that are vital to our region’s growth and sustainability,” she said. “We have achieved many milestones against the odds, and I’m proud to be part of this team.”

Several Metro Transit employees have been included on Mass Transit’s Top 40 Under 40 list over the years. The most recent recipients include Katie Roth, Manager of Bus Rapid Transit Projects, and Assistant Transportation Manager Chang Yang.

   > Read Mass Transit's profile of Joan Hollick

    > Awards and recognition 

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