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Bus Community St. Paul

On Transit Driver Appreciation Day, admiration goes both ways 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, March 19, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Transit Driver Appreciation Day was designed to put the focus on operators like Shelly Logelin, who started working at Metro Transit in 2013.

But when students from Saint Paul Public School’s Focus Beyond Transition Services visited Metro Transit’s East Metro Garage on Monday the support went in both directions.

The students, frequent bus riders, visited the garage to hand deliver gift bags filled with snacks and decorated with one of the custom thank you cards they helped design.

But, like several operators in attendance, Logelin said picking up Focus Beyond students is just as much of a highlight for her as it is for the students.

“Even though it’s our appreciation day, we’re giving it back to them to make sure they know they’re appreciated, too,” she said.  

Focus Beyond is a transitional school where students learn how to become more independent. Students often ride in large groups, filling entire buses on routes 54, 70 and 74, as they ride to and from school, work and other destinations.

The students were invited to East Metro after taking the initiative to deliver handmade cards and gift bags to drivers on Transit Driver Appreciation Day in 2018.

Tina Potvin, a teacher who helped organize the efforts, said students ride so frequently that they often develop relationships with the drivers. The kindness, patience and smiles they offer make sure the students always feel welcome, she said. 

“Many of the drivers greet our students by name and learn about all the individual needs they may have,” Potvin said. ”They really go out of their way to make both the students and the staff feel so much more comfortable and welcome.”

Help us recognize great operators

Help Metro Transit recognize great operators by submitting a commendation through our website or by sharing messages on Facebook or Twitter. If you don't know your operator's name, include the operator number on their shoulder so we can share your feedback with them.

Know Your Operator Light Rail METRO Green Line

Know Your Operator: DJ Gonte 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, March 15, 2019 8:24:00 AM

Train Operator DJ Gonte at the Green Line's Operations & Maintenance Facility in St. Paul.

Growing up in Ethiopia’s capitol city, DJ Gonte didn’t live far from a train station.

Watching the trains pull in and out gave him an early and deep love for railroading. Years later, it would also lead him to what he now describes as his dream job.

Seeking new opportunity, Gonte moved to Minnesota in 1996. He went to school, earned an associates degree in computer networking and took jobs at a computer company and as a school bus driver.

After a few years, he found a role at Medtronic. The company’s Brooklyn Center offices are just east of Metro Transit's Martin J. Ruter Garage.

“I would pass by the front of the garage and say, ‘One day, I’m going to work there,’” Gontesaid.

In late 2009, he realized that vision and began as a part-time bus operator. While he liked the work, Gonte knew from the beginning that what he really wanted was to drive a train.

He got that opportunity in 2014, when the METRO Green Line opened. Gonte was among those who made the inaugural trips on opening day, and he’s been carrying passengers up and down University Avenue ever since.

The job is just as enjoyable and rewarding as he imagined, too.

“I just love it. Every time I go out it’s like a whole new experience,” he said. “When I’m away from work for a few days I’m always excited to come back.”

The job does have its challenges, though. While he’s learned to anticipate the actions of drivers and pedestrians, moving through the corridor still requires constant and undivided attention, Gonte said.

Nearly five years after realizing his dream, Gonte said he’s proud of what he does and has no plans to stop any time soon.

Besides liking his job, he appreciates the benefits and a schedule that allows him and his wife to share parenting responsibilities and enjoy weekends together as a family (Gonte has two children, ages 3 and 9).

"When you like what you do it just gets better and better," he said. 

Know Your Operator

Know Your Operator: Kieyonn Bogan 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, March 13, 2019 1:47:00 PM

Nicollet Operator Kieyonn Bogan, who began at Metro Transit in 2004. After putting in an application to serve as a school bus driver, Kieyonn Bogan headed home on a Metro Transit bus and passed Nicollet Garage.

Bogan grew up near the south Minneapolis garage and regularly took the bus to Roosevelt High School and to the Roller Garden in St. Louis Park. Despite that exposure, she said it wasn’t until that moment that she considered what it would be like to work for Metro Transit.

Bogan went with that thought, applied and quickly found herself following a new career path.

She began as an operator in 2004 and, after overcoming some initial hesitation, has come to truly enjoy the work. Her favorite parts of the job, she says, are interacting with customers and getting a unique view of her community.

“I get to see the city wake up and I get to see the city go to sleep, all within a climate-controlled environment,” Bogan said.

Bogan has spent her entire career at Nicollet Garage, a small, close-knit garage where she sees her co-workers as family. While she’s familiar with lots of routes, staying at Nicollet has also led to an affinity for one of Metro Transit’s most popular routes – Route 21.

“I see a lot of the same people who always say hello, or just ride for the social aspect,” Bogan said. “People like that really make your day.”

Customer service isn’t Bogan’s only strong suit, either.

She has a 14-year safe driving record and, for the past four years, has helped train new operators as a relief instructor. Bogan says the key to safe driving is to not focus too heavily on the schedule.

In the future, Bogan hopes to continue growing her career at Metro Transit. She’s particularly interested in serving as a Transit Supervisor, helping operators and customers navigate planned or unplanned detours and other issues.

Whatever happens next, Bogan said she’s grateful to represent Metro Transit and for all the benefits of working for the organization. Since starting, she’s purchased a home, traveled and raised two boys, now ages 17 and 12.

“There are a lot of opportunities that may not have happened if I didn’t stick it out,” she said. “I’m really glad I’m here.”

We're hiring! 

Learn more about becoming a bus operator and support available to bus operator applicants at metrotransit.org/bus-driver-hiring

Help us recognize great operators

Help Metro Transit recognize great operators by submitting a commendation through our website or by sharing messages on Facebook or Twitter. If you don't know your operator's name, include the operator number on their shoulder so we can share your feedback with them.

Bus Minneapolis Rider Information

Construction leads to detours in downtown Minneapolis 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Monday, March 04, 2019 1:03:00 PM

Multiple routes will be detoured off a busy downtown Minneapolis street beginning Saturday, March 9, the first of several service changes that will occur this year due to road construction in the city center.

Beginning March 9, southbound trips on routes 5, 9, 19, 22, 39 and 755 will shift from 8th Street South to 6th Street South. During the detour, the routes will also stop serving the 7th Street/Ramp A Transit Center. 

The City of Minneapolis is rebuilding 8th Street between Hennepin and Chicago avenues. Utility work has been underway for months, reducing traffic lanes. This spring, crews will begin a full reconstruction of the corridor. Buses will return to 8th Street when construction is completed. 

As part of the city's reconstruction efforts, the roadway will be repaved, sidewalks will be widened and several Bus Rapid Transit stations will be added. Both the C Line and the D Line will operate on 8th Street.

The 7th Street/Ramp A Transit Center, a future BRT stop, will also be improved this year. When the C Line opens in June, customers will use stops on 6th Street. 

There are currently 350 bus trips on 8th Street South each weekday. 

Moving service to 6th Street South allows customers to remain closer to the city center. Schedules have been adjusted to account for the new routing.

Additional detours will go into effect in downtown Minneapolis later this year.

As early as April, the city plans to begin a nearly three-year reconstruction of Hennepin Avenue between Washington Avenue and 12th Street. Hennepin Avenue routes will shift to Nicollet Mall during construction.  

Pedestrian and transit improvements are also being incorporated into the Hennepin Avenue project.

Several other route and schedule changes will take effect on Saturday, March 9. The changes are being made as part of the regularly scheduled, quarterly service adjustments. The next round of service changes is scheduled to take effect on Saturday, June 8.

Click the map to view the 8th Street bus stops that will close beginning March 9, and where buses will stop on 6th Street.

Map of the 8th Street bus stops that will close beginning March 9, and where buses will stop on 6th Street.

Open stops when busses operate on 6th St. downtown Minneapolis beginning March 9
Route 5 - Southbound Glenwood at 7th St N
6th St at Hennepin
6th St at Nicollet
6th St between 2nd and 3rd Ave
6th St just past 4th
6th St between Park and Chicago
Chicago just past 8th
Route 9 - Eastbound

Glenwood Ave at 10th St
Glenwood at 7th St N
6th St at Hennepin
6th St at Nicollet
6th St between 2nd and 3rd Ave
6th St just past 4th
Portland just past 9th St

Route 19 – Southbound

10th St at Twins Way
Glenwood at 7th St N
6th St at Hennepin
6th St at Nicollet
6th St between 2nd and 3rd Ave
6th St just past 4th
6th St between Park and Chicago

Route 22 – Southbound

10th St at Twins Way
Glenwood at 7th St N
6th St at Hennepin
6th St at Nicollet
6th St between 2nd and 3rd Ave
5th Ave at 5th St
5th Ave at 4th St

Route 39 – Southbound

5th St Garage
6th St at Hennepin
6th St at Nicollet
6th St between 2nd and 3rd Ave
6th St between 4th
Portland Ave just past 9th St

Route 755 – Southbound

10th St at Twins Way
Glenwood at 7th St N
6th St at Hennepin
6th St at Nicollet
6th St between 2nd and 3rd Ave
5th Ave at 5th St

Learn more about service changes that begin March 9

Beginning Saturday, March 9, changes will be made to several routes operated by Metro Transit & Maple Grove Transit. Find an overview of the changes at metrotransit.org

How We Roll Minneapolis Northstar

How We Roll: Mike Conlon 

Posted by Laura Baenen | Thursday, February 28, 2019 3:11:00 PM

Mike Conlon

Many 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!

Mike Conlon, Director of Rail and Bus Safety

How do you get to work?

I drive from my home in Lino Lakes to the Fridley Park & Ride, where I get on the Northstar Commuter Rail Line. Fifteen minutes later I’m at Target Field and take a short walk to Heywood.

What do you enjoy most about your commute?

Skipping the traffic between Minneapolis and Fridley. When construction started on Interstate 94 in 2017, the alternate roads became completely jammed. Construction in Minneapolis also meant there were too many users – automobiles, pedestrians, cyclists – for the available space. 

Under those conditions, it became clear that it would be easier and take less time to take Northstar. It’s a smoother commute both ways with few surprises. Going home, I traded the stress of fighting the traffic for fighting to stay awake, so I didn’t miss my stop. I’ll take that trade. 

Why is it important to you to ride transit?

It’s important for three reasons: pain, preference and perspective.

There was nothing altruistic in my decision to make transit a part of my daily commute. I did it because the pain of continuing to drive outweighed the pain of the change. 

But I also ride transit because I like it. It suits me. In every city I visit, whether it’s for business or pleasure, I use transit. I’ve taught safety classes for the Federal Transit Administration in 20 major U.S. cities and used the transit in each of those cities. I insisted on seeing and using the maglev (a magnetically propelled train) in Shanghai, China, as well as the local and high-speed rail there, and in Beijing, Xian and Hong Kong. I look forward to using the local and high-speed rail in Italy soon.

There is also something serendipitous about my local transit trips. If you pay attention, you can see some real kindness being practiced. When I ride Route 18 sometimes, I see folks make a spot for someone who may not be as able to get around, and it doesn’t matter how crowded the bus is. It just happens. Ten people launch into action, some finding another spot for themselves and others lifting the seat to make room. I am grateful for having noticed. 

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