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Switch to LEDs lowers costs, brightens environment 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, April 18, 2019 1:55:00 PM

As a technician, supervisor and manager, Steve Engnell has spent more than 20 years working in garages characterized by cement walls and sparse natural light.

So when crews recently exchanged the yellowish fluorescent bulbs inside Nicollet Garage with LED fixtures, he was among many who welcomed the change.

“It really fills the room with what feels like sunlight,” said Engnell, Nicollet’s maintenance manager. “It looks like a totally brand new garage.”

Others will notice a similar transformation as an ambitious effort to install around 10,000 new LED lights throughout each garage and four other support facilities unfolds over the coming year. Lighting is being replaced not just in maintenance areas but in all parts of the buildings, including offices, conference rooms, locker rooms and even closets.

LEDs will also be installed at several METRO Blue Line stations in 2020, continuing work that began in 2018. 

Creating a more welcoming environment is just one of many benefits that will come from the sweeping conversion to LEDs.

LED lights are expected to last at least a decade, meaning facilities staff will be able to avoid time-consuming and disruptive lighting replacements. Fluorescent lights are changed out as often as every six months.

LEDs are also expected to use about a third less energy, lowering utility costs. Between those savings and rebates from Xcel Energy, the $2 million investment in new lighting is expected to be recovered within three to four years.

“Not having to maintain or change our bulbs for 10 to 15 years allows facilities to take care of higher priorities, and that efficiency is all part of a measured payback,” said Mark Lanthier, a principal contract administrator who is overseeing the work.

During a recent visit to East Metro, Lanthier and employees from Apadana, the Minneapolis-based company replacing the lights, pointed other less obvious benefits.

Fluorescent lights have mercury that, if broken, can be a hazard. LED lights can also be dimmed or brightened to meet the needs of particular areas within a space. As part of the lighting replacement project, dimmer and motion sensor technology is being added or updated in some bust storage and office spaces. 

Some lighting is also being moved to better meet the needs of the users and the work performed in a space. At Nicollet, fixtures moved parallel to the bus lifts, where techinicans need more light. 

Ameer Kian, Apadana’s director of procurement, said LEDs are becoming more common among retailers like Walgreens, Target and Best Buy. The company is also replacing lights at the Central Library in downtown Minneapolis.

“LED technology has really matured,” Kian said. “There was some uncertainty at first but now that we have 15 to 20 years of experience there’s confidence.”

Metro Transit installed some of its first exterior LED lights at the Northstar and Blue Line operation and maintenance facilities several years ago. In 2018, they were installed at seven of the METRO Blue Line’s stations.

Associate Engineer Claire Warren, who is managing the LED replacement project, said there are plans to replace nearly all of Metro Transit’s interior and exterior lighting with LEDs in the coming years.

“We’re excited to move forward with these large-scale lighting replacement projects and join other large transit agencies by making intentional capital investments in premium LED technology," Warren said. 

Where and when LED replacements will occur

LED lighting was installed at several Northstar and Blue Line stations, outside several service garages and the Overhaul Base in 2018. Future installations will occur at Metro Transit support and customers facilities in the coming years. 

2019: Nicollet, East Metro, South, Ruter and Heywood garages, Rail Support Facility, Blue Line Operations & Maintenance Facility, Transfer Road, Northstar Operations & Maintenance Facility

2020: Exterior lighting at Metro Transit Campus facilities (Heywood Office, Transit Control Center, Instruction Center), Blue Line stations between downtown Minneapolis and Bloomington

2021-22: Interior lighting at Metro Transit Campus facilities and the Green Line Operations & Maintenance Facility, Green Line station walkways

Top: Ameer Kian, left, and Shayan Beizaee, center, from the Minneapolis-based lighting company Apadana, with Metro Transit Principal Contract Administrator Mark Lanthier, right, during a recent visit to East Metro Garage. Kian and Lanthier are holding LED lighting fixtures, which are replacing the florescent lighting held in the middle by Beizaee.

Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Minneapolis Ridership

Final Four leads to record light rail ridership 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, April 18, 2019 11:46:00 AM

Metro Transit brought tens of thousands of fans to U.S. Bank Stadium for the 2019 NCAA Men's Final Four in Minneapolis.The METRO Blue and Green lines each set single-day ridership records on Monday, April 8, when the NCAA Men’s Final Four championship game was held at U.S. Bank Stadium.

There were 62,686 rides provided on the Blue Line and 68,210 rides on the Green Line that day. The combined total of 130,896 light rail rides topped the previous single-day light rail ridership record set on Sept. 11, 2017.

April 8 was the busiest day on the Green Line since Oct. 3, 2016, when the Vikings played a Monday night game at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Blue Line’s previous single-day ridership record was set on Aug. 24, 2018.

Altogether, Metro Transit provided nearly 160,000 more light rail rides between Friday, April 5, and Tuesday, April 9, when Final Four activities were being held across downtown Minneapolis. Total rides on those dates are being compared to the same days the prior week.

Metro Transit also played a key role on Saturday, April 13, when Minnesota United hosted its inaugural match at Allianz Field. An estimated 5,500 fans took the Green Line and A Line to the stadium, at the corner of University and Snelling avenues.

Fans can take light rail to every major stadium in the Twin Cities, including CHS Field, TCF Bank Stadium and Target Field.

“As Minnesota sports fans and visitors can attest, transit is the most convenient, affordable and enjoyable way to get to and from large events,” General Manger Wes Kooistra said. “We are happy to support our community in this way and look forward to having an even greater ability to do so as our network grows in the years ahead.”

On Off The Clock

On the Clock/Off the Clock: TCC Supervisor Meredith Tvrdik 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, April 16, 2019 2:29:00 PM

On the Clock/Off the Clock features provide an introduction to the people who spend their days working at Metro Transit and their free time involved in a variety of interesting hobbies. Read more On the Clock/Off the Clock features here

Lives: Big Lake

Job: Transit Control Center Supervisor

Years of Service: 15

How did you come to work at Metro Transit and what do you do?

I began as a travel booth agent and trainer at the Transit Information Center (TIC). Six short years later, I was promoted to work in the Transit Control Center (TCC). At the TCC I help bus operators with any problems they experience. On any given day, I could be dispatching police, sending a technician for repairs, calling the shop if the bus breaks down or making sure trips are filled so we deliver trips on time to our riders. 

Where are you from originally? Tell us a little bit about your background.

I was born in California but I grew up in the Iron Range. After graduating high school, I moved to the Twin Cities to pursue a degree in animation. That’s when I met my husband and started a family. I’m a proud parent of a 12-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son.

What is your favorite part about working for Metro Transit?

The people I work with. They make me laugh every day, even though the work can be challenging at times. Every day is different, so this job never gets old. 

What are your favorite activities when you’re not working or are “Off the Clock”?

I enjoy spending time with my family when we go camping and traveling, but I also enjoy "me-time" when I go for a run. While running is still new to me – I started running a little over 2 years ago – I recently completed the 2019 Los Angeles Marathon.

I ran to commemorate my father who died from a heart aneurysm when he was 37 years old, the age I am now. As a kid in California, I fondly remember going to Dodgers baseball games with my dad. It was meaningful to me that this marathon starts at Dodger stadium, a place we shared so many memories. 

This commemoration was even more special when another TCC supervisor, Belinda Hanson, surprised me the morning of the race. I knew she was coming to be a spectator but she surprised me with the news that she planned to run by my side and encourage me the whole 26.2 miles! Like I said, the people I work with are one of the many reasons I love my job! 

Want to share your story or suggest a co-worker for an On the Clock/Off the Clock profile? E-mail insights@metrotransit.org​​

Bus Minneapolis Rider Information

Buses moving from Hennepin to Nicollet during construction 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, April 11, 2019 12:14:00 PM

A Route 4 bus on Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.

There will be a lot more buses moving up and down Nicollet Mall soon. 

Beginning Monday, April 15, routes that normally serve Hennepin Avenue will be detoured to Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. The detours will remain in place for up to four years as the city rebuilds Hennepin Avenue between Washington Avenue and 12th Street. 

City plans call for protected bikeways in each direction and eight enhanced station areas with shelters, real-time signs, heat, light and security features, among other improvements. Utility work is scheduled to begin this spring. 

Metro Transit partnered with the city as it developed plans to make the corridor more transit and pedestrian friendly. The new shelter areas will be served by local bus routes and the E Line, a Bus Rapid Transit service that will substantially replace parts of Route 6.

Routes 4, 6, 12, 61 and 141 make nearly 500 trips down Hennepin Avenue each weekday. During the detour, there will be nearly 1,300 trips on Nicollet Mall each weekday.

Passengers board or get off the bus on Hennepin Avenue around 11,000 times each weekday. During the detour, passengers are expected to board or get off the bus along Nicollet Mall around 32,000 times each weekday. 

To speed up boardings, riders are encouraged to use Go-To Cards or to purchase fares in advance using Metro Transit's mobile app. Passengers should also exit out the rear door. 

Schedules will be adjusted in June. Up to five minutes may be added to routes that move from Hennepin Avenue to Nicollet Mall.​

Nicollet Mall was seen as the best detour route because the corridor has new waiting shelters, real time signs and is close to destinations and transfer points.   

The Hennepin Avenue detour is one of several service changes occurring due to construction in downtown Minneapolis. 

In March, routes 5, 9, 19, 22, 39 and 755 moved from 8th Street South to 6th Street South to allow for construction. 

Express routes that serve downtown Minneapolis also continue to be impacted by construction on the Interstate 35W corridor. Ramps between I-35W and 46th Street are scheduled to close this summer. Buses that would normally uses these ramps will get on and off I-35W at Diamond Lake Road. 

Stay informed

Need help planning a trip? Call the Transit Information Center at 612-373-3333

On Off The Clock

On the Clock/Off the Clock: Senior Planner Adam Smith 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, April 11, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Metro Transit Senior Planner Adam Smith at the Heywood Office Building in Minneapolis.

On the Clock/Off the Clock features provide an introduction to the people who spend their days working at Metro Transit and their free time involved in a variety of interesting hobbies. Read more On the Clock/Off the Clock features here

Senior Planner Adam Smith lives in south Minneapolis. He began working at Metro Transit in late 2018. 

How did you come to work at Metro Transit and what do you do? 

After seven years as a planning consultant in California and the Twin Cities, I wanted to spend more time working on transit projects. I’d been a big fan of Metro Transit’s vision for Bus Rapid Transit and applied when I saw an opening to serve as a senior planner. 

I’m now serving as the planning lead for the B Line, a BRT line that will operate on Lake Street in Minneapolis and Marshall Avenue in St. Paul. I coordinate efforts within Metro Transit, work with other agencies and the public to move the project toward successful implementation.

Where are you from originally? Tell us a little bit about your background.  

I’m originally from Kenosha, Wis. I moved to Minnesota to attend Carleton College in 2003, which gave me a chance to get to know the Twin Cities and make friends here. I always thought of it as a place where I might end up long-term. 

After receiving a master’s degree in urban and regional planning at the University of Wisconsin, I spent four years working on environmental and water infrastructure issues as a planner in Sacramento, Calif., before I got tired of all the warm, sunny weather and relocated to the Twin Cities in 2015. Since then, I’ve been working primarily on transportation projects, though I’ve always been especially passionate about transit. 

What’s your favorite part about working for Metro Transit? 

Every day we strive to improve the quality of life for people in our region. That could mean figuring out how to reduce delays and shorten travel times or providing amenities that will attract new riders and make for a more positive transit experience. I really value the fact that what we do makes a difference in our communities. I also need to mention the incredible dedication and commitment of my co-workers throughout Metro Transit. It’s easy to come into work every day when you have such welcoming co-workers who really care about their work.

What are your favorite activities when you’re working or “On the Clock”?  

I love being able to sort through data, extract the most important information and communicate that information to a broader audience. In some cases, the main “takeaways” from our analyses are simple and maybe even obvious to many of our customers. However, when we have data that confirms what we, as transit riders, are experiencing, it helps reinforce many of the improvements that we’re trying to make.

What are your favorite activities when you’re not working or “Off the Clock”?  

Since moving back to Minnesota, my partner and I have been immersed in Minnesota soccer culture. We’re season ticket holders for Minnesota United, and we’re members of the Dark Clouds, one of the club’s supporter groups (i.e. the people who stand through the whole game, often yelling, chanting, waving flags, or singing out of tune). It’s been a great way to meet people in the area and we are particularly involved with the volunteering and community service arm of the Dark Clouds, which is, of course, called Silver Lining. We’re looking forward to riding Route 21 and the A Line to watch games at Allianz Field this season. 

Learn more about taking Metro Transit to Allianz Field

 

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