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Bus METRO Blue Line Minneapolis On the METRO

Transit-oriented development brings new life to Lake Street 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, November 03, 2015 8:38:00 AM

Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony for the county's new service center on Lake Street.Drawn by its affordability and central location, Michael Denny moved to the Corcoran neighborhood more than 36 years ago. Cities across America were in decline but even then, he said, he had a feeling good things were going to happen in this corner of south Minneapolis.

The evidence in support of Denny’s hunch has been piling up ever since.

Over the last decades, the neighborhood has welcomed new businesses, a YMCA and a weekly farmer’s market that now draws more than 66,000 visitors a year. In 2004, the neighborhood celebrated the opening of the METRO Blue Line and its Lake Street/Midtown Station.

On Monday, neighborhood leaders joined officials from Hennepin County and partnering organizations to mark the start of another transformational project: a redevelopment that will bring a new county Human Services Center, retail space and more than 500 housing units to land immediately west of the LRT station.

For Denny, who raised two children in a home just blocks from the site, the promise of more neighborhood vitality further affirms his decision to call Corcoran home.

“I could sense something was happening when I moved here, and I still have a really good feeling about the neighborhood,” he said after the groundbreaking ceremony. “I’m all in – I found it (home).”

Getting to this point hasn’t come easily, however. For more than a decade, officials and community leaders have been talking about how to enliven the area surrounding the light-rail station.

Successful negotiations allowed the county to take control of more than six acres, including land used for a Metro Transit Park & Ride and a Minneapolis Public Schools building where adult learning classes are held. The Park & Ride closed earlier this year, and MPS will remain on site while searching for a new location nearby.

The Human Services Center, including retail space along Lake Street, is expected to open in late 2017. More than 100 apartments are also part of the first phase, with more housing to be phased in over time.

County officials pursued the deal as part of an effort to create a decentralized network of service centers to better serve the community. More than a quarter of county residents receive county assistance and more than 16 percent of those people are expected to use the new Lake Street location.

In addition to giving people better access to services, the redevelopment will bring housing and job opportunities that benefit existing residents and draw more people to the city.

“What we have now is a chance to re-create urban America as a place of opportunity,” Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said.

Opportunity is also on the minds of more than 50 vendors at the Midtown Farmer’s Market, which wrapped up its 13th season in October. Though plans remain in the works, organizers look forward to having more conveniences for sellers and a better environment for all who attend.

“This will establish a real sense of permanency and create something that really feels like a home for the market,” Market Manager Miguel Goebel said.

The start of construction comes just months after a new senior housing project opened across Lake Street. That $45 million project includes 68 affordable apartments, a street-level plaza and a rooftop patio. (The Council provided a $1 million grant to support the transit-oriented development by Minneapolis-based Wellington Management.)

Transit-Oriented Development isn’t isolated to the Lake Street/Midtown Station area either.

Be the Match’s 900 employees will soon move into new offices next to Target Field Station, one of several developments in the rapidly-changing North Loop neighborhood. In St. Paul, a portion of a $28 million project that will bring more than 100 affordable apartments to what was a vacant used car dealership north of the Green Line’s Hamline Avenue Station will open in December.

Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said these and other projects that bring jobs, housing and services to areas that are well-served by transit make the Twin Cities more accessible and equitable.

“Transit-oriented development is about letting people choose where to live, work and recreate — and giving them the freedom to make those choices without worrying about the financial burdens they’ll face when it comes to transportation,” he said. 

'Transit Village' At a Glance

> Opening in 2017: Hennepin County Human Services Center, 114 workforce housing units, 8,000 square feet of retail space fronting Lake Street, a transit plaza and parking.

> Later phases will include the public gathering space, more than 400 residences and additional parking. 

> The project is being developed by L&H Station development, LLC, a joint venture between BKV Group and Launch Properties.

    > Hennepin County anchors transit-friendly development in south Minneapolis

    > Star Tribune: Officials break ground on development at Lake St. and Hiawatha Av.

    > Route 21: A crosstown with culture, community

    > Metro Transit: Transit-Oriented Development

Bus Go Green

Solar power providing more shelter lighting 

| Friday, October 30, 2015 10:49:00 AM

A pole-mounted solar panel is used to provide power for lighting at this Metro Transit bus shelter.Solar panels have been installed at 17 new boarding locations, supplying energy to keep waiting shelters lit at night.

The solar-powered shelters are located at sites along Xerxes Avenue in Brooklyn Center, on Fremont, Lyndale, Plymouth and West Broadway avenues in North Minneapolis and at several locations in Brooklyn Park.  

With the latest wave of installations, there are now more than 30 Metro Transit shelters supplied by solar power. In 2010 and 2012, solar panels were installed along Franklin Avenue and at sites in Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park and North Minneapolis.

The pole-mounted solar panels feed a rechargeable battery pack that can provide up to 30 hours of energy for motion-sensored lights. Metro Transit is currently exploring options for mounting solar panels directly on shelter rooftops.

Solar panels are used at sites where the cost of powering the site through a utility connection is cost-prohibitive.

Where possible, lighting will be included at all shelters installed through the Better Bus Stop Program. By the end of 2015, shelters will have been installed at 51 locations where none had previously existed. Many of these sites will include light.

The solar-powered shelters are a small part of a broader effort to cut the amount of purchased energy used at Metro Transit facilities in half by 2020.

Large solar arrays are in place at the 610 & Noble Parkway Park & Ride in Brooklyn Park and at the Rail Support Facility in Minneapolis. In 2016, rooftop solar arrays will be installed at bus garages in Minneapolis, Bloomington and St. Paul, as well as a light-rail maintenance facility on the METRO Blue Line and a bus maintenance building in St. Paul.

    > Better Bus Stops

    > Metro Transit takes leap forward on solar energy

Bus Transit Information

Texting to find the NexTrip 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, October 27, 2015 10:43:00 AM

Text messaging has been added as another way to access NexTrip, the service that provides predicted real-time bus and train departure information.

Here's how to receive a text message with the predicted departure times of the next four trips at a particular stop:

1. Find the stop number using the Interactive Map or the “Stops and Stations” page. New bus stop signs being installed systemwide also include stop numbers.

2. Send a text message to the short-code 27299 with the letters “mt” followed by the stop number (for example, “mt12345”). Route-specific information will be delivered by adding a space and the route number to the end of the message (for example, "mt12345 17”, would return results only for Route 17).

3. Get results instantly!

NexTrip originated in 1989 as a call-in service known as “BusLine.” Predicted real-time departure information became available online around a decade ago.

Today, NexTrip information is available by phone (612-373-3333), on Metro Transit's mobile website and through several apps. NexTrip information is also displayed on digital signs at all light-rail stations and more than 100 bus boarding locations.​

In 2015, customers requested NexTrip information through Metro Transit’s website nearly 84 million times — more than double the number of requests made in 2012.

“NexTrip is an empowering tool that gives customers greater confidence and the ability to plan trips on the spot,” Transit Information Project Coordinator Laura Matson said. “Adding the text feature responds to requests we received from customers and makes this tool even more accessible.”

    > Stay in the know with NexTrip

    > Installation of new bus stop signs continues

Bus Community Minneapolis

Waiting for the bus while lounging in the ‘Living Room’ 

| Thursday, October 22, 2015 9:49:00 AM

Pillows, a chess board, markers, books and string lighting aren’t the kinds of things people are usually surrounded by while waiting for a bus.

But a new temporary shelter that went up this week in Minneapolis incorporates all of those things, part of a broader and continuing effort to enliven public spaces in the downtown core.

The temporary shelter – called “Living Room Station – Your Home Before You Get Home” – is located at the corner of South Sixth Street and Nicollet Mall, where more than 1,000 people board a bus each weekday.

Its installation is the product of a partnership between the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District and Metro Transit, which hope to gain some lessons learned that will shape future placemaking efforts not just at boarding areas but across downtown.                                 

The “Living Room Station” near Nicollet Mall was designed by the Musicant Group and constructed with help from Onyx Cycles, a manufacturing company based in North Minneapolis. Rider feedback collected by the Youth Coordinating Board's Street Outreach Team helped inspire the design.

“In our built environment, everything can be so hard and synthetic,” said Max Musicant, the founder and principal at the Musicant Group. “Our use of durable but natural materials and color creates a sense of welcoming and invitation that I think is often missing.”

The shelter will be up through at least the end of the month and there will be live entertainment at the site each weekday from 3:30-5 p.m. (see schedule below).

Another project – which might or might not include a physical shelter – is in the works for a boarding area at South Sixth Street and Second Avenue South, outside the Capella Tower.

Ben Shardlow, the DID’s Director of Public Realm Initiatives, said downtown’s high-traffic boarding areas each present unique opportunities. Because of that, he said property owners, customers and other stakeholders should work together on innovative solutions.

“Our focus is on places that aren’t working as well as they could, and working together on novel solution that meet the need,” he said.

The project comes as Metro Transit replaces shelters in the City of Minneapolis that were privately owned until last year. New and replacement shelters are also being installed through the Better Bus Stops program.

"Living Room Station" Schedule of Events

> Friday, Oct. 23 – Singing in the Rain: music and umbrella escort from the station to the bus   

> Monday, Oct. 26 – Pumpkin Carving: decorate the Living Room for the holidays!

> Tuesday, Oct. 27 – Family Game Night: board games while you wait for the bus

> Wednesday, Oct. 28 –Singing in the Rain: music and umbrella escort from the station to the bus 

> Thursday, Oct. 29 – House Party: Live accordion, free apple cider and a good time

> Friday, Oct. 30 – Trick or Treat at Living Room Station!

    > DID: Living Room Station offers activities, new environment

    > Star Tribune: Temporary downtown Mpls. bus shelter offers the comfort of home

    > Smaller shelter shown off at State Fair

    > On West Broadway, shelters get a steward

Photo: Free cards and flowers were provided at "Living Room Station" on Wednesday, Oct. 21. View more photos courtesy The Musicant Group here

Student Pass Transit Police

Harrington named Transit Professional of the Year 

| Tuesday, October 20, 2015 10:05:00 AM

​Chief John Harrington was recognized as Transit Professional of the Year at the Minnesota Public Transit Association’s annual awards on Monday.Chief John Harrington was recognized as Transit Professional of the Year at the Minnesota Public Transit Association’s annual awards on Monday.

Harrington was recognized for his efforts to grow and diversify the department and for strengthening its commitment to community-oriented policing. With nearly 40 years of police experience, Harrington was sworn in as the agency’s seventh chief in 2012.

“I’m grateful for the recognition and the support,” Harrington said. “But this isn’t an individual award. It represents a lot of great work by our officers, department leadership and all our partners both at Metro Transit and around the region.”

Harrington is the latest Metro Transit leader to be recognized by MPTA as Transit Professional of the Year. Deputy General Manager Mark Fuhrmann was honored in 2014 and Jan Homan, Deputy Chief of Operations-Bus, was recognized in 2012. 

In addition to the Transit Professional of the Year honors, Metro Transit received a Management Innovation award for its work on the Student Pass program.

Around 10,000 eligible high school students at Minneapolis Public Schools and elsewhere have received a Student Pass this school year. The pass can be used to ride transit to and from school, work and other activities.

    > Meet Chief John Harrington

    > Student Pass

    > Awards and Recognition

Bus Transit Information

Installation of new bus stop signs continues 

| Wednesday, October 14, 2015 11:41:00 AM

A new Metro Transit bus stop sign is installed on Grand Avenue in St. Paul on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015.After a successful pilot, around 2,300 new bus stop signs with enhanced information will be installed this fall.

The new signs include route and unique stop numbers, as well as instructions for accessing real-time predicted departure times through NexTrip. Signs at stops with higher ridership will also include a route map, frequency information (for the trunk of the route) and indicate the direction that buses serving that stop travel.

Installations began earlier this week in St. Paul along routes 63 and 64. Signs will be installed along more than 20 additional routes that serve North Minneapolis and the northwest suburbs in the coming months.

New signs will be installed at all of Metro Transit’s 12,000 bus stops through 2017. Sign installations will be prioritized based on ridership.

Around 100 new signs went up earlier this year in North Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park to give customers an opportunity to provide feedback. Some minor design changes were made after the pilot (for example, frequency charts now indicate a range of time instead of using the terms morning, mid-day or evening).

The new signs are part Metro Transit’s broader Better Bus Stops program. With funding from a federal Ladders of Opportunity grant and other resources, more new and replacement waiting shelters will be installed in the coming years. 

    > Star Tribune: Metro Transit adding information at bus stops

    > Better bus stop signs 

    > New bus stop signs introduced

    > NexTrip


METRO Green Line

Green Line sets monthly ridership record 

| Wednesday, October 14, 2015 10:11:00 AM

Nearly 1.25 million rides were taken on the METRO Green Line in September, a new high-water mark for the light-rail line.

Average weekday ridership on the Green Line last month was 45,644 -- well ahead of the 41,000 average weekday rides that were forecast for 2030. Prior to September, the Green Line’s highest monthly ridership came in October 2014, when there were 38,597 average weekday rides.

Total Green Line ridership through the end of September was 8.94 million. Ridership on all modes was 64.5 million, a 3 percent increase compared to the first nine months of last year.

September’s strong light-rail ridership can party be attributed to special events. More than 193,000 light-rail rides were taken to home sporting events last month.

Single-day ridership on the Green and Blue lines topped 100,000 for the first time ever on Thursday, Sept. 3, when the St. Paul Saints, Twins and Gophers each played at home. Total ridership on that date was 355,665. 

Average weekday ridership on all modes in September was 302,669, the highest monthly average since at least January 2011.


















    > Video: Green Line anniversary

    > Single-day LRT ridership tops 100K for the first time

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