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Bus Good Question Light Rail Northstar Rider Information Suburban Transit

Good Question: Why is service reduced on certain dates? 

| Wednesday, July 01, 2015 10:56:00 AM

Customers board Route 767 at the Bottineau Blvd & 63rd Avenue Park & Ride.On dates when fewer customers are expected to ride transit, service is reduced on some bus routes, as well as light rail and Northstar.

These “Reduced Service” days are typically observed holidays when many major employers are closed. Most of the service reductions are on routes used by commuters traveling to downtown Minneapolis, St. Paul or the University of Minnesota.

Unless otherwise noted, light-rail, express and local bus routes operate according to Saturday schedules on Reduced Service dates. (Routes with no service on Saturdays may operate on a limited schedule.) 

In practice, that means there are usually about 20 percent fewer local bus trips and about one-third the number of express bus trips. Light-rail service is reduced less than 10 percent.

Several morning and afternoon Northstar trips are also eliminated on Reduced Service dates, since around 93 percent of those who use the commuter rail line are traveling to work or school.

Metro Transit considers historic ridership patterns when deciding whether and when to reduce service. When there was an observed holiday on Monday, July 5, 2010, ridership decreased about 60 percent compared to the rest of the weekdays that week. Service on that date was reduced by around a third. 

Service is also reduced on holidays to reflect lower demand.

Reducing service on these lower-demand days provides cost-savings that can be re-directed to other needs.

Even if service is reduced customers can continue to use NexTrip, which provides predicted real-time departure information using GPS data from in-service buses. The Transit Information Center is also open.

Reduced and Holiday service schedules are available on metrotransit.org and are also published in Connect, the on-board newsletter.

Service adjustments may be made based on customer feedback. Customers with specific concerns are urged to Contact Us

Bus Transit Information

New bus stop signs introduced 

| Thursday, June 25, 2015 11:44:00 AM

More than 100 new bus stop signs with additional information have gone up in North Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park over the last several weeks, the first step in a systemwide overhaul that will unfold over the coming years.

At locations with a lower number of customer boardings, the new signs include information about the routes that serve that stop and a unique stop number that can be used to access real-time departure information through NexTrip. (Use the Services Finder or Interactive Map to find the number for any transit stop in the Twin Cities). 

Signs at higher-boarding locations also include route maps, charts describing how often the bus is scheduled to arrive at that stop and, in some cases, details about how to use NexTrip.

The new signs were placed at sites with local, express and a combination of services. They can be found along portions of North Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis and along Zane Avenue North and Brooklyn Boulevard in Brooklyn Park. 

New signage was also installed at 15 bus shelters. The shelter signage includes route maps, schedules, stop location information, NexTrip instructions and unique stop numbers.

Riders and potential riders were interviewed to get input on the new signs. Additional feedback is welcome before installations continue. Comments can be sent to customerinfo@metrotransit.org.

New signs will be installed at more than 2,000 locations this fall. Signs at all of Metro Transit’s 12,000 stops are scheduled to be replaced by 2017.​

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. All of the advertising shelters in Minneapolis are also in the process of being replaced with Metro Transit shelters. 

    > The bus stops here

 

Community St. Paul Student Pass

Students make the case for expanding transit access 

| Thursday, June 25, 2015 9:12:00 AM

For several years, high school student Spencer Willits has used transit to travel to and from school, work and other activities.

At 16-years-old, he says riding buses and trains has given him greater independence to travel around the Twin Cities and delayed his pursuit of a driver’s licenses.

His ambition now is to help make transit more easily accessible to his peers.

In support of that goal, Willits, Sebastian Alfonzo and Breanna Simon, members of the Saint Paul Youth Commission’s Transit Access Subcommittee, spoke this week to Metropolitan Council members about expanding the Student Pass program to schools across St. Paul.

“Using transit has had a really profound impact on how I get around the Twin Cities, and I think it’s something everyone should have available to them,” said Willits, who will be a junior at Great River School this fall.

For the last three school years, qualified high school students at Minneapolis Public Schools have been provided Student Passes that can be used for unlimited rides while classes are in session. Several other metro-area schools also participate.

Students use regular route buses to get to and from school and enjoy the flexibility of taking an earlier or later trip so they can participate in before and after school programs. Students can also use the passes to get to work or other activities.                                                             

Beginning this fall, more than 1,000 students at St. Paul’s Johnson Senior High School will be provided Student Passes in a pilot project that will help determine if additional high schools in the Saint Paul School District can be included in the program.

The Saint Paul Youth Commission – a group of young leaders focused on community issues –asked the Saint Paul School Board to pursue program expansion last year.

To bolster their case as discussions continue, the Youth Commission provided 14 students at Central and Harding high schools with Go-To Cards that could be used to ride Metro Transit for free from January through June. The students were then surveyed about how they used transit during those six months.

Survey results shared with the Council showed that students used the passes several times a week to get to school and a variety of activities, including work, tutoring and sports.  

Testimonials from those who received the passes were also shared in a short video. In interviews, students said the passes saved them money and boosted their school performance by allowing them greater access to after-school programs. 

Youth Commissioner Alfonzo, a junior at Central High School, said the feedback affirmed his belief that students would greatly benefit from having a Student Pass.

“Students who need this, I feel like they’d jump at the chance,” he said. “It’s something I think would help a lot of people reach opportunities that they otherwise couldn’t.”

Photo: Students from the Saint Paul Youth Commission spoke to the Council's Transportation Committee on Tuesday, June 23. From left are Spencer Willits, advisor Lisle Bertsche, Breanna Simon and Sebastian Alfonzo.

Bus Community Know Your Operator

Top operators recognized for safe driving, customer service 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, June 17, 2015 1:47:00 PM

Operators were recognized for safe driving at Metro Transit's annual Ovations Awards Ceremony.Every weekday morning, operator Rodney Smith makes four 12-mile journeys between Normandale Community College and downtown Minneapolis on Route 535

With a full load of customers in tow, he guides a 40-foot bus through rush hour traffic on Interstate 35W, maneuvers through several lanes to pick up or drop off customers at Lake Street and navigates through congested downtown streets.

Despite the challenges, Smith maintains a safe driving record that stretches back to his first day on the job 35 years ago. Asked how he’s been able to do it, Smith said he’d never really paused to consider his impressive streak. 

“It’s not like you’re marking the days on the calendar,” Smith said. “You just have patience and take it day by day.”

Metro Transit has been keeping a calendar, though, and on Thursday Smith was among a group of five Metro Transit operators recognized for 35 consecutive years of safe driving.

The recognition came at the Ovations Awards Ceremony, Metro Transit’s annual operator appreciation event. More than 50 bus and light rail operators celebrating career milestones were honored for their safe driving records, customer service and attendance at the event.

Two operators were recognized for 30 consecutive years of safe driving and two operators were recognized for 25 consecutive years of safe driving. Another 16 operators were honored for 25 combined years of safe driving and others were celebrated for reaching 25-, 20-, 15-, 10- and 5-year milestones.

Several operators in attendance credited their success to simply being aware of their surroundings, a cornerstone of the Safety Keys training operators go through every three years.

“It’s a lot of skill, a lot of experience, a lot of good training – and maybe just a little bit of luck,” said operator Duane Lundgren who, while being a self-described klutz, has tallied 30 consecutive years of safe driving.

General Manager Brian Lamb took the opportunity to thank operators for their service, commitment to customers and leadership in the organization.

He credited operators for helping Metro Transit grow ridership in ten of the last 11 years – the first such period of growth in a century – and said they all played an important role in shaping the next generation of top operators.

“It isn’t just about what we build, it’s about who we are,” Lamb said in his address. “And you are the best of who we are.”

    > Metro Transit Awards and Recognition

    > Know Your Operator

Community METRO Green Line Minneapolis St. Paul

At one-year mark, Green Line going strong 

| Monday, June 15, 2015 5:09:00 PM

Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb at Central Station, celebrating the Green Line's one-year anniversary.For the last eight months, Aaron Martin has used the METRO Green Line to get to not one but two jobs – one at the Town Hall Brewery in Cedar-Riverside and another at the Oceanaire in downtown Minneapolis.

The ease of his commutes is a near-daily confirmation that he made the right decision moving last fall to an apartment in St. Paul’s Hamline-Midway neighborhood, where he can walk just a few blocks to the Fairview Avenue Station.

“I get frustrated with traffic, so the trains are really a godsend for me,” Martin said as he traveled westbound on his way to work.

Such stories have become commonplace since the Green Line opened a year ago. More than 11.1 million Green Line rides have been taken since light-rail service began on June 14, 2014, and average weekday ridership is nearly 25 percent higher than anticipated.

On Monday, Martin and other customers were invited to celebrate the Green Line's success by wearing Green Line anniversary buttons that can be used to receive discounts at businesses along the corridor (those who didn't receive a button can simply show retailers an image of it). Businesses and local leaders who had high hopes when the Green Line opened also took the day to reflect on how the Green Line has re-shaped the urban landscape. 

Standing alongside business owners and supporters at Central Station, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said he found it hard to believe the Green Line had been in service just a year given how much a part of the city’s character it has become.

He pointed to redevelopment projects in downtown St. Paul and along University Avenue as a testament to the Green Line’s “catalytic” effect and the promise it holds for helping “build on the future of St. Paul.” Around $3 billion in development has occurred or is planned within a half-mile of the Green Line.

General Manager Brian Lamb pointed to the ways the Green Line has expanded cultural and recreational opportunities, such as the new possibility of light-rail themed double-headers featuring the Minnesota Twins and the St. Paul Saints. (Several times this season, the Saints and Twins play home games on the same day, allowing fans to catch action at both transit-friendly ballparks.)

More importantly, though, Lamb said the Green Line has expanded access to opportunities.

A study from the University of Minnesota’s Accessibility Observatory released this week found that workers in St. Paul could, on average, reach over 2,000 more jobs by transit than they could before the Green Line opened. Job accessibility in some areas more than doubled due to the Green Line and improvements in connecting bus routes, the U of M study found.

“The Green Line is about more than rides, it’s about access,” Lamb said.

Though she doesn’t use the Green Line to get to work, St. Paul resident Dana Gehant values her ability to use the Green Line on her daily visits to her mother in Minneapolis. Like Martin, she grew tired of driving and gave up her car in favor of transit. Her hope now is that the Green Line will lead to further light-rail expansion in the region. 

“My only complaint is that it (the Green Line) doesn’t go further,” she said.

    > Mass Transit: Metro Transit has the Twin Cities seeing green

    > Green Line residents are enthusiastic about light rail

    > Connections ground businesses, arts on Green Line corridor

    > Green Line has been magnet for housing development

    > MPR: Green Line success driving transit, business hopes

    > Star Tribune: A year into Green Line, development on University Avenue is still looking to pick up speed

    > Pioneer Press: With Green Line, 2,000 more jobs accessible, study finds

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