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METRO Green Line St. Paul Station Spotlight

At Dale Street Station, the best is yet to come 

| Monday, April 28, 2014 12:00:00 AM

 Ron Whyte has spent the last 30 years making barbeque in St. Paul. Despite the long work history, the opening of the METRO Green Line has him wishing he had even more time to spend at the grill.

The restaurant Whyte has built alongside Bob Edmond, Big Daddy’s BBQ, moved to the corner of University Avenue and Dale Street in 2010, where the Green Line’s Dale Street Station now stands. As the Green Line’s June 14 opening approaches, Whyte is increasingly confident the restaurant’s best years are yet to come.

So confident, in fact, that he and Edmond recently expanded their restaurant to 21 seats and added a patio that sits right on the street corner.

“I see all the improvements that are being made on University Avenue and I just wish that I could be here another 25 years,” Whyte said recently from his restaurant. “I think it’s going to be really nice.”

Whyte’s enthusiasm is echoed by business owners, residents and others who live, work or play near the Dale Street Station. Following years of community-building, the intersection of Dale Street and University Avenue has emerged as a bright spot along the Central Corridor where small businesses get their start and residents live, dine, shop and learn.

The Green Line’s opening marks the beginning of the next chapter and should bring about more positive change, community members say.

“The whole strip looks better,” said John Tolo, who lives near the Dale Street Station and is part of a group that began reinvesting in neglected Frogtown properties three years ago. “And when things start to look nice that has a contagious effect on your neighbors. People start to take pride and want their place to look better, too.”

Tolo is working with the Frogtown Community House Project, which has purchased or leased nine properties on or near Charles Avenue, just north of Dale Street Station. Previously vacant buildings have been restored to provide homes for residents in need. A community garden and outreach center have also been developed.

Directly on University Avenue are two prominent buildings that symbolize the progress that has already been made in the Dale Street Station area – the Rondo Community Outreach Library and Frogtown Square, a mixed-use building where several small, locally-owned businesses are located. The library opened in 2006 while Frogtown Square opened in 2011 with support from a group of non-profits, the City of St. Paul, the Metropolitan Council and the federal government.

The library building, which also includes multifamily housing, sits on property that was previously home to an adult theater. Today, the library has become a community focal point with more than 500,000 visitors a year – the highest number of any of St. Paul’s public libraries.

Branch Manager Charlene McKenzie said students and adults come to the library from all over the metro and that light rail will allow even more people to access the site, which also includes a small business resource center.

“I’m kind of amazed every day who finds us,” McKenzie said. “I hope it (light rail) does make people’s journeys easier.”

Across the street in Frogtown Square, employees at the Daily Diner are also on a journey. Opened in April 2013, is part of a 12-week vocational training program that provides recovering adults the skills they need to enter the restaurant industry.

Nick Gisi, the director of men’s programs at Union Gospel Mission, which runs the diner, said most of those who participate in the program rely on transit to get to work. Having reliable, convenient access to the diner and future employment will be one of the keys to their success, he said.

“Some of these people have been out of the workforce for a long time and there’s some fear around it (working),” he said. “Anything you can do to make things easier and more convenient, even just getting to work and back, is a huge help for them.”

Above the diner, nearly 50 seniors live in Kings Crossing Apartments.

Among them is Jean Tretter, who moved there in 2011 so he could take advantage of the Green Line when it opened. Because of health issues, Tretter stopped driving more than a decade ago and now relies primarily on buses to get around. He said the Green Line and related bus improvements will make it easier for him to run errands, visit friends and continue living independently.

Tretter has for years used the METRO Blue Line to get to the VA Medical Center, and said he hopes more light rail lines will be built in the future.

“Every time they build a new light rail line it expands my ability to go somewhere,” he said. “So many places are difficult to get to now. I just want something where you can get on and get there and light rail does that.”

Dale Street Station At a Glance 

Connecting bus routesRoute 16 provides local service between downtown St. Paul and the Green Line’s Stadium Village Station. Beginning June 14, Route 65 will provide service between the Rosedale Transit Center and Grand Avenue. Route 67 buses travel four blocks north of University Avenue on Thomas Avenue, turning on Dale Street to Minnehaha Avenue. The route travels between downtown St. Paul and connects with the Green Line’s Fairview Avenue and Raymond Avenue stations, terminating on the west end at the METRO Blue Line’s Franklin Avenue Station.

Public art: St. Paul artist Seitu Jones, who lives near Dale Street Station, created painted steel and aluminum "quilts" that include patterns and icons derived from many of the cultures present in the Dale Street Station area. Jones also created the public art for the Green Line's Capitol/Rice Street and Lexington stations. Jones' wife, Soyini Guyton, also created a poem that is featured at the station. ​Learn more

Area landmarks: Frogtown Square, Rondo Community Outreach Library, Hallie Q. Brown Community Center, Central Village Park, Carty Park, Saint Agnes School, Jackson Prep Magnet, Museum Magnet, Capitol Hill Magnet

Bike-ped connections: A Nice Ride kiosk is located on the west side of Frogtown Square. This summer, St. Paul will construct a bike boulevard on Charles Avenue between North Aldine Street and Park Street. There pedestrian crossings over I-94 between St. Anthony and Concordia avenues at Grotto and Mackubin streets (north access is between Kent and Arundel).

Neighborhood groupsFrogtown Neighborhood Association, Summit University Planning Council 

Bus Route of the Week St. Paul

Route 71: Cutting the car for convenience, connections 

| Monday, April 28, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Shannon Willenering spent 25 years driving herself to and from work in downtown St. Paul. Her children grown, she decided last year that she could do without her car during the day and decided to try taking the bus instead.

She stopped into Metro Transit’s St. Paul Service Center and discovered Route 71 provided what was essentially door-to-door service between her South St. Paul home and her job at Securian.

After nearly a year of commuting on the bus – avoiding $140 in monthly parking expenses and the hassles of winter driving – she doesn’t have any plans to get back in her car. “I didn’t realize just how convenient it was,” Willenering said recently as she made her way to work. “Now I tell everyone to take the bus.”

Convenience is a selling point for many of those who use Route 71, which runs between Little Canada and Inver Grove Heights. On a recent weekday morning, several customers were found going to work and school on the bus even though they had the option of driving.

Lori Curtis is among those who were traveling southbound to work in downtown St. Paul instead of driving her car. Curtis said she has used Route 71 for more than a decade to cut her transportation costs and avoid the stresses of driving.

A Caribou barista, she said her half-hour commutes give her time to crochet, read or simply relax as she eases into the work day.

“I’ll be spending the whole day standing so it’s nice to be able to sit back and drink my coffee,” she said.

Todd Smith, of Stillwater, is among the newer customers to find their way onto Route 71. Smith took a job at a South St. Paul marketing firm at the beginning of the year and began using transit as a way to save money.

At least three times a week he takes Route 294 downtown and then transfers to Route 71 to get the rest of the way to the office, a 50-mile round-trip that costs him around $5.

“Paying to ride the bus versus driving, it’s not even a comparison,” he said of the savings.

Joshua Holmes, a sophomore at the University of St. Thomas, said money also drove his decision to take the bus. Though he just bought a car, he continues to use routes 71 and 63 to get to school using a College Pass, which provides unlimited rides for $140 to $175 a semester.

“That’s a lot cheaper than a parking permit, plus gas and everything else,” he said.

Saving money isn’t the only perk of taking Route 71, though.

Several southbound, early-morning commuters have gotten to know one another as they travel to and from work every day. For Perry Kapaun and Kelly Moore, the on-board connection was especially significant.

Kapaun and Moore went to school together 30 years ago in Fargo, N.D. and ran into each other on the bus when Moore began riding Route 71 earlier this year.

“We’re fully caught up now,” Moore said.

Route 71 At a Glance

Type: Urban local

ServiceRoute 71 trips start and end at different locations depending on the time of day. The longest trips operate between Little Canada Transit Center, at Rice Street and Little Canada Road, and the Walmart located off of Highway 52 in Inver Grove Heights. Traveling southbound, Route 71 buses go east on Little Canada Road to Edgerton or Westminster streets and enter downtown St. Paul on Robert Street. In South St. Paul, buses travel largely on Concord Street and west on 80th Street to Inver Hills Community College. On weekdays, buses run approximately every 15 to 30 minutes between 6 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and every hour in the evenings. Service runs approximately every 30 minutes on Saturdays and every hour on Sundays.

Route Length: Approximately 17 miles

Stops: 171 northbound, 179 southbound

Vehicles: 40-foot standard diesel buses

Ridership: 501,709 customer boardings in 2013, with an average of 1,375 passengers per day

History: Route 71 grew out of streetcar lines on Concord Avenue in South St. Paul and Mississippi Street in St. Paul. The far north end of Route 71 on Edgerton Street was originally served by North Suburban Lines, the last independent private bus company to be acquired by the Metropolitan Transit Commission, the organization that eventually became Metro Transit. Service on McMenemy Street and in Inver Hills began in the 1970s.

Future: In downtown St. Paul, customers will be able to transfer to the METRO Green Line’s Robert Street Station from Jackson Street (a block east).

Bus Bus Maintenance Community In the News

Old buses get new life 

| Thursday, April 24, 2014 12:00:00 AM

A 12-year-old bus with more than 400,000 miles might not sound like a dream come true. But for Ann Kay and Bill Jones, it represents just that.

The Minnetonka duo recently purchased a retired Metro Transit bus to use as a mobile computer lab that will be parked at the North Community YMCA and other Twin Cities locations, allowing students to engage in a unique learning initiative called The Rock ‘n’ Read Project. Using computer programs, students sing out loud to boost their reading skills.

“The bus is the key, because the bus is exciting,” Kay said as she and Jones recently took possession of the bus at the St. Paul property near I-94 and Snelling Avenue where Metro Transit stores some of its retired vehicles. “Plus we’re able to go right to the kids in their community.”

Kay and Jones said they were inspired to use a transit bus because of the large windows. Though it will be painted and stripped of its seats, they also believe the bus will remain a familiar sight in the community.

“They are highly recognizable even if they don’t have the big T on them,” Jones told the Star Tribune, which wrote about the purchase. “They know that is a city bus. We are going to marry the bus they see every day with the fun and reading success.”

The conversion from people mover to mobile learning site is just one example of how Metro Transit’s buses have been creatively reused after their regular in-service life.

While many retired buses are dismantled and sold for parts or acquired by private bus companies, others have been used as outbuildings, a petting zoo and gardens. Others have gone to smaller transit providers, some shipped as far as Africa.

D.J. Jones, of Hollandale, Minn.-based Jones Auto, recently brought one of the buses he purchased to Chicago to be used in the filming of Transformers 4. The bus was used in hundreds of takes over a month of shooting, he said. Though largely painted over in orange and green, Jones captured a photo with the "Circle T" still visible on the vehicle's roof.

While most of the buses Jones has purchased over the last decade have been scrapped, he has held onto this one to help celebrate the movie’s premiere this June.

“I'm taking my kids and we’re going to drive that bus to the movies when it comes out in the theaters,” he said.

The bus that Kay and Jones purchased last week was among 23 that were put up for online auction earlier this year.

Other buses from the auction will be converted into a mobile grocery store that will serve St. Paul's East Side and a roaming artist studio with space for youth to paint, draw and practice a number of other mediums.

Artist Mary Carroll is the organizer of the non-profit behind the so-called "Art Bus" and the organization behind it, ART ASAP (After School Arts Programming). ART ASAP is a partner of St. Paul Public Schools but the bus will be driven throughout the metro to reach underserved youth at multi-family housing complexes, youth centers and other areas where transportation can be a challenge.

Youth will be able to take eight week classes with mentors as early as July, concluding with an exhibit and a portfolio of work to call their own.

On the bus, most of the seats will be removed to make way for easels and other equipment. Solar panels will be installed on the roof to supply power. After the bus was sold to the organization, volunteers immediately set to decorating the outside, which Carroll said will be painted "very vividly."

“When you see it, you’ll know that it’s the Art Bus,” she said.

Based on regional and federal guidelines, the regular service life of a transit bus is 12 years. Metro Transit's buses are typically used for a year or two to provide service to the Minnesota State Fair and have more than 400,000 miles on their odometers by the time they are sold.

"Obviously, these buses have been running up and down the street for many, many years," said Rob Milleson, Director of Bus Maintenance. "Many of them are still operable but the cost of maintaining them for service doesn't make sense."

To prepare buses for auction, Metro Transit removes the fare box, radio, bike rack and equipment used to program the overhead signs. All advertisements and logos are also painted over to avoid potential confusion if the buses go back out on the road.

Kay, of Rock 'n' Read, said taking an old bus and giving it new life is a fitting start for her and Jones' fledgling program.

“This may seem like the end of the line, but it’s the start of the line for us,” she said.

    > Star Tribune: Old buses keep on truckin’ after leaving Metro Transit

    > Star Tribune: Bringing art to youth via bus

    > Lillie Suburban Newspapers: Food on a bus?

    > Business Journal: Wilder Foundation converting retired Metro Transit bus into mobile grocery store

    > BringMeTheNews: Converted bus to roll affordable groceries into food deserts

    > More maintenance, more miles


Bus Bus Maintenance

Nurturing a new generation of mechanics 

| Friday, April 18, 2014 11:40:00 AM

Mechanic-technician Kevin Hendrickson checks the heating and cooling system on a Metro Transit Bus.Among Kevin Hendrickson’s classmates, buses weren’t exactly top of mind.

Instead, those enrolled with him in Hennepin Technical College’s Medium/Heavy Truck Technology program largely thought their careers would involve working on tractor-trailers, considered the “Cadillac of the road.”

When it came time to find an internship, though, Hendrickson went a different direction. He spent a year dividing his time between the classroom and working at Metro Transit’s bus maintenance department.

Hendrickson’s divergent path was inspired by the decades his father spent as a bus mechanic, as well as the prospect of working on some of the largest vehicles on the road. Metro Transit’s high-floor, 40-foot buses weigh more than 30,000 pounds and are more than 10 feet tall; 60-foot articulated buses weigh about 40,000 pounds.

“For me, the bigger it is the more fascinating it is,” said Hendrickson, who spent his internship doing everything from removing seats to replacing transmissions and brakes.

The decision to go a different direction paid off: in 2013, Hendrickson became the first Metro Transit intern to graduate from Hennepin Tech’s unique, two-year program and to be hired as a full-time mechanic-technician.

Today, Hendrickson works at East Metro Garage, inspecting and repairing heating and cooling systems. He joins more than 260 mechanic-technicians who are based at one of five Metro Transit service garages or the Overhaul Base in St. Paul, ensuring the fleet of more than 900 buses operates safely and reliably.

For Metro Transit, recruiting and training new mechanics like Hendrickson isn’t just a goal but a necessity. As older mechanics retire it has become increasingly urgent to recruit new mechanic-technicians who can take their place.

The partnership with Hennepin Tech began a few years ago as part of a larger effort to fulfill the need. Metro Transit is also approaching students at high schools and vocational schools and encouraging its own helpers and cleaners to take coursework that puts them on the path toward becoming a mechanic.

While the internship program won’t by itself come close to filling the ranks – just a few students can participate at a time – it is nonetheless a critical step towards addressing the need.

Jan Homan, Metro Transit’s deputy chief operating officer for bus operations, said stories like Hendrickson’s illustrate to young people that they can make a career of transit and make it more likely for them to get interested.

“We’re in the mix now,” Homan said. “We have young people who can advocate and let their peers know about the opportunities that exist.”

Homan’story is itself a testament to the type of career a mechanic can build at Metro Transit. Homan started as a bus cleaner in 1975 and now oversees the bus transportation and maintenance divisions.

Chuck Wurzinger, assistant director of bus maintenance, said the program is uniquely suited to Metro Transit’s needs because of the hands-on experience it provides.

In most programs, students spend 18 months in school but have little exposure to the work environment they’ll be entering. Mid-career mechanics often come over from the automotive, trucking or airline industries and have to do some on-the-job learning to better understand buses.

“You need a good theoretical foundation but doing it just compounds the learning,” Wurzinger said. “Until you get to actually manipulate it you really can’t get a feel for it.”

Dale Boyenga and Duane Rasmussen, co-instructors of the Hennepin Tech program, said Metro Transit is especially unique among the more than 80 employers that partner with the school.

While the program teaches fundamentals common to all diesel equipment, Metro Transit’s buses can be more challenging because of all the different components involved. Computers are used on several different systems, which must work together for a bus to perform properly.

“There is probably more advanced technology on a bus than anything else we work on,” Boyenga said.

Hendrickson said he was struck by all of the different technologies in use on a bus and that the experience he gained during his internship has been critical in his new position.

“It was one of the best years of learning I ever had,” he said.

Bus Minneapolis St. Paul Transit Information

Much more than a store 

| Wednesday, April 16, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Lalita Williams (foreground) and Tim Johnson assist customers at the Metro Transit store on Marquette Avenue in Minneapolis.For the last six years, Dan Hackman has made regular stops at Metro Transit’s retail store in downtown St. Paul to purchase Day Passes – $6 fare cards that allow him to make unlimited trips on a bus or METRO line for 24 hours.

Hackman lives near the store, in the skyway level of the U.S. Bank Building, and said he uses the passes to visit patients he works with as a Personal Care Assistant.

“I like that I don’t have to worry about having any money in my pocket,” he said during a recent visit.

While such transactions have long been the lifeblood of Metro Transit’s St. Paul and Minneapolis retail operations, the stores' employees have spent less time on fares and more time on general customer service in recent years.

To reflect the change, the stores are being rebranded as Service Centers, where customers can stop in for help planning trips, to collect Lost & Found items or ask basic questions about Metro Transit's services. 

The shift from fare sales to general service has been precipitated by the ease of online sales, Auto Refill and use of bulk fares like Metropass and U-Pass, which provide unlimited rides for a flat fee. The spread of ticket-vending machines and expansion of fare card sales to more than 100 Cub stores and other locations throughout the metro has also allowed customers to get fares at locations that are most convenient to them.

While the Minneapolis and St. Paul Service Centers still sold more than $4.7 million in stored fares last year, employees are now as likely to plan trips, answer questions about schedule changes or detours and introduce new or out-of-town customers to their transit options as they are to help customers with fares.

Traffic has remained constant but about half of those who visit Metro Transit’s Service Centers now come to purchase fares, add value or replace a lost Go-To Card. The rest come looking for transit information or other types of help. On average, 800 people visit the Minneapolis store on Marquette Avenue each weekday; another 400 visit the St. Paul location.

“As it has become easier to pay fares, we are seeing fewer sales but the traffic hasn’t gone down because people still want and need help,” said Mary Capistrant, who supervises retail revenue operations.

Linda Seidl, who started at Metro Transit 40 years ago, has seen the evolution first hand. When she started, Seidl sold tokens and paper punch fare cards. The punch cards were replaced by magnetic cards in the 1980s, and Go-To Cards with stored value were introduced nearly a decade ago.

The change in fare technology has benefited customers in numerous ways, including the ability to replace a lost, registered Go-To Card without losing any of its stored value, Seidl said. “Before, if they lost a card, someone was smiling but it wasn’t them,” said Seidl, who has come to know many regular customers in her decades of service.

A former Metro Transit driver, Tim Johnson began at the Minneapolis location a year ago. He said fare sales remain an important part of the job but that he and other employees play a powerful role helping people who are new to transit. Many times, employees will drive to their first day of work then come to the Service Center looking for a way to get there using transit.

If a boarding location is nearby, customers may be walked or directed to their stop; other times a printed map helps get customers where they need to go.

“It’s nice to be able to give them something tangible – a piece of paper that says go here and get on this bus,” Johnson said. “To send them with a map is important because a lot of people have never ridden a bus before.”

Aisha Dancy worked with customers over the phone in the Transit Information Center before moving behind the counter at the Minneapolis location three years ago. Dancy said working directly with customers is rewarding because she gets to see them leave with newfound confidence and hear about their successful trips during a subsequent visit.

“A lot of people will come back and thank me,” she said. “It’s nice to know that it worked out and that they got where they needed to go.”

In St. Paul, the questions have recently turned to the METRO Green Line. Laquanda Jarrett, who works at the St. Paul Service Center, said customers come in every day to ask for a schedule or to find out when the light rail line is opening (June 14).

“Every single day, we get at least 20 people asking about it,” Jarrett said. “They’re just so excited and ready.”

Metro Transit Service Centers At a Glance

The Metro Transit Service Center on Marquette Avenue in Minneapolis.Minneapolis

History: Original location opened at the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis in 1979. The operation moved to its street-level storefront on Marquette Avenue in 1986.

Address: 719 Marquette Ave., Minneapolis

Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Monday – Friday; ticket vending machine available during business hours.

Fun fact: The Minneapolis ticket-vending machine is among the highest-grossing in the system, generating more than $100,000 in retail sales each month.

St. Paul

History: A small kiosk opened in the in Ecolab building in 1980. The store later relocated to Town Square. It has been located in the U.S. Bank Center since 1988.

Address: Skyway, US Bank Center, 101 E. 5th Street

Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday; ticket-vending machine available 24 hours a day.

Fun fact: The location’s Snoopy statue, among the last remaining in St. Paul, is regularly outfitted with seasonal attire. Downtown workers and tourists often stop by to snap a photo with the statue.

    > Metro Transit Service Centers

    > Metro Transit Retail Outlets

    > Metro Transit Online Store

Bus METRO Green Line Route of the Week St. Paul University of Minnesota

Route 87: Connecting the University of Minnesota to University Avenue 

| Monday, April 14, 2014 8:27:00 AM

Route 87 passed the METRO Green Line's Raymond Avenue Station on University Avenue.JB Shank sat aboard Route 87, laptop open, putting the finishing touches on a presentation he was due to deliver later that day.

A history professor at the University of Minnesota, Shank said he frequently brings his computer out on the bus and finds ways to be productive while traveling to and from the office.

“It’s another 20 or 30 minutes more work I get to do every day,” Shank said as he recently traveled towards the U of M’s St. Paul Campus.

Shank is among a host of customers who have found benefits to traveling on Route 87, which runs between St. Paul's Highland Village and the Rosedale Transit Center in Roseville. Buses run largely along Cleveland, University, Raymond and Fairview avenues.

The route is used by residents traveling to and from work, shoppers headed to Rosedale Center or Highland Village and those traveling to the U of M’s St. Paul campus, where parking can be a challenge.

Will Secur, a graduate student studying applied economics at the U of M, is among those who take Route 87 to class.

Secur said he hadn't used transit before moving from Virginia to St. Paul last year, but that he found taking the bus to be the easiest, most cost-effective way of getting to class. Secur uses a U Pass that allows students to make unlimited bus and METRO trips for less than $100 a semester. 

"I like that I get to read, catch up on e-mail or just sit and relax before going to class," he said. "And it's pretty much door-to-door service."

Students exit a Route 87 bus at the University of Minnesota's St. Paul Campus.

Jade Erickson, who boarded near Como and Cleveland avenues, has also found Route 87 to be the easiest way of getting around. For two years, Erickson took the route to classes at the U of M; now she rides to her job as a librarian at St. Catherine University.

"I drove for a couple of weeks but it was just too stressful," she said. 

Elma Williams realized how simple and convenient it is to take Route 87 when her car recently went to the shop for repairs. 

Needing a way to get to work, Williams called Metro Transit’s Transit Information Center and learned she could board near her home at University and Prior avenues and ride directly to her job at the Dollar Tree.

“This basically picks me up at the door and lets me off at the door,” said Williams, who expects to continue riding even after her vehicle is fixed. 

When the METRO Green Line opens June 14, Route 87 customers will find it even easier to get around. The route will make timed transfers to the Green Line at the Raymond Avenue Station, which will also be served by routes 1663 and 67Service on Route 87 will also be improved from every half hour to every 20 minutes, seven days a week. 

Jessica Rains, who has used Route 87 for nearly a decade, said she is grateful for the increased service. When Route 87 doesn’t match her schedule, Rains turns to Route 84, which runs on Snelling Avenue and is further from where she needs to be. “When I ride the 84, I get a lot of exercise,” she said. “This will make it much easier to get back and forth.”

Kurt Sanderson is also looking forward to an easier commute. After taking a job at Ecolab in downtown St. Paul, he began taking Route 87 to University Avenue and transferring to Route 50, a limited-stop bus on University Avenue. Route 50 will be replaced by more frequent, consistent Green Line rail service.

“I think that will make it a lot easier to get in and out (of downtown St. Paul),” Sanderson said. “I’ll be able to walk less than 1/10 of a mile getting from my house to the stop, to the train to the office.”

A Route 87 bus travels through St. Paul's Highland Village neighorhood on Cleveland Avenue.Route 87 At a Glance

Type: Urban local

ServiceRoute 87 runs between the Rosedale Transit Center and Highland Village, along Fairview, Raymond, University and Cleveland avenues. The route runs near three major schools – the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul Campus, the University of St. Thomas and St. Catherine University. Buses run every half hour between approximately 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Route Length: Approximately 8 miles

Stops: 55 northbound, 56 southbound

Vehicles: 30-foot standard diesel buses 

Ridership: There were 160,502 rides on Route 87 in 2013, with an average of 614 customer boardings per weekday.

History: Buses ran from University and Prior avenues to Cleveland and Ford Parkway beginning in 1926. When streetcars replaced buses in 1952, the route was combined with bus service to downtown St. Paul via Minnehaha Avenue (today’s Route 67). A shuttle bus ran from Raymond and University avenues through the St. Anthony Park neighborhood, later becoming a rush-hour only branch of Route 16. This service was later combined with the route running south of University Avenue to Highland Village and a Roseville circulator route to create Route 87.

Future: When the METRO Green Line opens June 14, service will improve to every 20 minutes, seven days a week. Route 87 will also make timed transfers with the Green Line at the Raymond Avenue Station, which will also be served by routes 16, 63 and 67.

METRO Green Line Minneapolis Station Spotlight University of Minnesota

Getting to the game and more on the Green Line 

| Tuesday, April 08, 2014 12:00:00 AM

A METRO Green Line test train departs Stadium Village Station in Minneapolis.When the cost of gas skyrocketed in 2008, Wally Widlund and his wife decided to make a change.

The couple sold their car and relocated from south Minneapolis to Prospect Park, nearer to work at the University of Minnesota.The decision to go car free has meant more walking and almost daily bus rides to fetch groceries, stop at the library or go the gym.

Beginning June 14, they’ll have an additional option  – the METRO Green Line. The Green Line’s Stadium Village Station is just a few blocks north of their home and will provide convenient and reliable transportation to both downtowns and the University Avenue corridor. “I’m really looking forward to being able to easily go to St. Paul and accessing all that’s along University Avenue,” Widlund said recently, riding to the Minneapolis Whole Foods on Route 6. “It will make it a lot easier for us, and I just like the vibrancy it will bring to the neighborhood.”

Widlund’s enthusiasm is shared by business owners, residents and commuters who will use Stadium Village Station.

Located at University Avenue and 23rd Avenue SE, the station will provide immediate access to TCF Bank Stadium, which the Golden Gophers football team will share with the Minnesota Vikings while a new stadium is constructed in Minneapolis. Several other U of M athletic facilities, including Williams Arena and Mariucci Arena, the McNamara Alumni Center and the Biomedical Discovery District are also nearby.

“We are excited about the Green Line opening,” said Jacqueline Brudlos, communications manager for the U of M’s Parking and Transportation Services. “Its impact on gamedays as well as the average school day should offer...relief to drivers in the immediate vicinity of campus.”

Brudlos, communications manager for the U of M’s Parking and Transportation Services. “Its impact on gamedays as well as the average school day should offer some potential relief to drivers in the immediate vicinity of campus.”  

Just south of Stadium Village Station is the bustling Stadium Village commercial district, which got its name after businesses located near the U of M’s former Memorial Stadium.

Christopher Ferguson is active in the business community and owns two Stadium Village businesses, a Dairy Queen and Bywater Business Solutions. Ferguson said he and other business owners are largely optimistic about what the Green Line will mean for the area.

A METRO Green Line train near the Stadium Village Station in Minneapolis.The hope is that the Green Line’s convenience will bring community members to Stadium Village throughout the year, and that some train passengers will be compelled to stop while traveling along the corridor.

Stadium Village businesses are partnering on events like the April 24 Taste of Stadium Village and looking to activate public open spaces to make Stadium Village a fun place to visit.

“The next phase of work is to get people to use the train and take advantage of the opportunities it creates -- to get them to explore parts of the community they haven’t before just because they weren’t as easy to get to,” Ferguson said.

Laura Beeth, the system director of talent acquisition for Fairview Health Services, also sees promise in the Green Line. Fairview has several locations along the light-rail corridor, including outpatient and children’s clinics on University Avenue just east of Stadium Village Station.

Beeth said the new light-rail connection will not only benefit patients and employees but the thousands of students who go through clinical rotations at Fairview sites every year.

Fairview is actively working to attract students who live in the Green Line corridor and works with several schools that are connected by transit service, including the U of M, St. Catherine University, Augsburg College, Saint Paul College and Minneapolis Community & Technical College.

“Not all of these students have cars and this will be a very convenient, affordable, stress-free way to get here,” Beeth said.

The convenience of light-rail is also seen as a major boost for those attending a wedding reception or other event at Profile Event Center, located on University Avenue about halfway between the Green Line’s Stadium Village and Prospect Park stations.

Having an easy way to travel to and from the venue is important for out-of-town guests who don’t want to rent a car and will also make for a fuller, more enjoyable visit, owner Patrick Kellis said.

“A lot of people have relatives or friends coming in from out of town,” Kellis said. “Now they can stay in a hotel downtown and take light-rail right to our facility, as well as the Mall of America, the airport, lots of places. It will be more of a fun weekend experience.”

Duane Rohrbaugh, the general manager at The Commons Hotel, said the prospect of a car-free, hassle-free stay drawing guests to the hotel, a block south of Stadium Village Station.

“In the last three weeks, we’ve booked three groups for the MLB All Star Game and it’s all because of the Green Line,” he said. “They’ll get into town, get on light rail and be able to get right here.”

The Green and Blue light-rail lines will share stations in downtown Minneapolis, including Target Field Station, where the All-Star Game will be held on July 15.

While particularly beneficial during events and gamedays, Rohrbaugh said the light-rail connection will be a year-round asset for guests at the hotel, which opened in late 2012.

“This (the Green Line) is just going to be a major artery for people to get into Stadium Village from either downtown and any place in the Twin Cities really,” he said.

A METRO Green Line test train at Stadium Village Station in Minneapolis. Stadium Village Station At a Glance 

Connecting bus routesRoute 6U, with local service in Edina, Uptown, downtown Minneapolis and the U of M, will be extended further east to 27th Avenue SE to connect with Stadium Village Station and provide local service to Prospect Park. Route 16 will continue to provide local service on the University Avenue corridor but will not continue to downtown Minneapolis; westbound commuters can instead transfer to the Green Line at Stadium Village Station. Several express or limited-stop routes with service to the U of M will also connect with the station, including Route 111, Route 113, Route 114, Route 115, Route 118, Route 252, Route 272, Route 465, Route 652, and Route 579. The U of M’s Campus Connector (Route 121) and East Bank Circulator (Route 123) also connect to Stadium Village Station.

Public art: Artist Roberto Delgado created a collage of historic and current photos from around campus and the Twin Cities, transferring the images to tiles using a silk screen process. The collage includes several photos from the U of M archives and commencement. “I like to superimpose photos so it becomes like a puzzle and you have to get up close to see what’s going on,” he said. Delgado created similar artwork for the Snelling Avenue and Central stations. Learn more

Area landmarks:  TCF Bank Stadium, Williams Arena, Mariucci Arena, McNamara Alumni Center, University Recreation and Wellness Center, Biomedical Discovery District, Stadium Village, Prospect Park

Bike-ped connections: The Dinkytown Greenway, an off-road trail through Dinkytown, runs between the Mississippi River and just north of TCF Bank Stadium. The trail connects with the U of M Transitway, which connects to the U of M’s St. Paul campus and is open only to bicyclists, transit and emergency vehicles. The Washington Avenue Transit/Pedestrian Mall runs between Walnut and Pleasant streets. Bicylsts and pedestrians can cross the Mississippi River on the Washington Avenue Bridge. There is also a trail along East River Parkway, on the west bank of the nearby Mississippi River. The U of M Bike Center is located at 401 SE Oak St, on the west side of the Oak Street Parking Ramp. For more information on biking on campus visit the U of M’s biking website.

Neighborhood groups: Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association, Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association, Prospect Park 2020, Stadium Village Commercial Association

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