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Good Question

What is METRO BRT?  

Posted by John Komarek | Thursday, January 24, 2019 12:33:00 PM

What is METRO BRT?
BRT stands for Bus Rapid Transit. It’s a bus service that provides fast, frequent service that eliminates the need for a schedule. METRO refers to any lines that provide this type of service, including light rail.

METRO already has two BRT Lines in operation, the A Line and Red Line. In 2019, METRO will add the C Line. As part of a study, more BRT Lines are in planning stages or are in construction, like the Orange Line.

How do METRO BRT Lines provide fast, frequent service? 
The hallmark of a METRO service is the ability to pay before boarding and all-day service about every 10-15 minutes.

With ticketing on the platform, METRO BRT Lines eliminate a bottleneck when boarding. Now that there’s no need to pay a fare at the front door, customers can use the back doors to board, too.

A real transit advantage of METRO BRT is that the buses “talk” to traffic lights. As a bus approaches, a traffic light knows to safely change signals to favor the bus route. So, METRO BRT buses have shorter waits during a trip.

BRT Lines also have transit advantages like transit-only ramps and some use High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes during traffic.

What’s different about METRO BRT stations?
METRO BRT stations provide our customers with real-time information, so you’ll always know when the next bus is coming. Some stations also alert our customers when a bus is about to approach by a pulsing light behind our iconic T logo at the station. These stations also have heat, security cameras, and snow removal services.

No farebox on the bus? How do you enforce fares?
Just like METRO light rail lines, customers pay their fare at the station. As part of their duties, police and community service officers perform random ticket checks on board BRT Lines. If you find yourself consistently unable to pay full fares, you may qualify for our Transportation Assistance Program (TAP).

Am I getting METRO BRT in my neighborhood?
Follow BRT Line or METRO Line developments online or attend a community meeting in your neighborhood. We hope to see you at one of them!

Want to try a METRO BRT line?
Ride the A Line or Red Line to experience the advantages of METRO BRT. Or, if you’re patient, join us for the launch of the C Line!

 

 

On Off The Clock

On/Off the Clock with CJ Bahan 

Posted by John Komarek | Saturday, January 19, 2019 12:21:00 PM

Name: CJ Bahan
Lives: Minneapolis
Job: Electro-Mechanical Technician
Years of Service: 3

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

Approximately three years ago when I moved to the Twin Cities region to be with my girlfriend, I found a job at Metro Transit. I like to say that I dumb-lucked into this great career. I have a fancy sounding job title, but the way I see it, it’s a lot simpler to explain: I fix light rail vehicles (LRVs).

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

I’m originally from the city of Jacksonville, Illinois, which is in the southern part of the state. However, I’ve lived and worked all over the country and abroad. I’ve been a mechanic for over 20 years.  This profession has taken me around the world, working on everything from oilfield equipment, trucks, military vehicles, and, most recently, farm equipment.

What is your favorite part about working for Metro Transit?

My favorite part of working for Metro Transit, aside from living in the greatest city in the Upper Midwest, is that I find it personally rewarding to work in the public sector in a “green” career. Every day, when I fix an electric light rail vehicle, I know that I’m helping lower our carbon footprint.

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

My favorite activities include bicycling, lake swimming, canoeing, camping, crossfit, cross country skiing, ice skating, and doing all kinds of odd-ball physical challenges (many times to support good causes). I’ve biked the Tour de Cure, Lake Alice 100, Tour de Pines, Minnesota Ironman Bike Ride, Tour de Tonka, and several other tours that were less than 100 miles. Generally, I enjoy all manner of outdoors-y type stuff that takes me on awesome adventures in Minnesota and beyond!

My latest adventure, however, was in water. This past summer, I trained on lake swimming, which obviously would turn into an epic road trip/camping trip where my girlfriend and I would swim in all five Great Lakes. Crossed off the bucket list, and next year, I’ll find another adventure.

How We Roll

How We Roll: Shaun Morrell  

Posted by John Komarek | Friday, January 18, 2019 4:40:00 PM

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!

Shaun Morrell, Manager of Scheduling and Systems Support

How do you get to work?

My family and I bike, take Route 21 or the Blue Line or drive together, depending on the weather and our plans for that day. When the weather's nice, my wife Noelle and I like to start the day riding our bikes together along the Midtown Greenway. We pull our 3-year-old son, Simon, in a trailer. We split off at the Sabo Bridge. Noelle takes Simon to daycare in the morning and leaves the trailer there during the day. Then I pick him up in the afternoon.

What do you enjoy most about your commute?

My commute is sometimes the most relaxing part of the day. It feels good to come into the office after a little physical activity and fresh air, or to catch up on the news or a podcast while riding the train.

Why is it important to you to ride transit?

I worry a lot about the damage humans are doing to the air, water, wilderness and climate. I believe transit is one way we can use resources more wisely and reduce our impact on the environment. That keeps me motivated, both as a transit employee and as a rider.

How do you get around outside of your commute?

As much as we can, we like to bike or walk to places in our neighborhood (Longfellow) for shopping, eating out, socializing, and recreation. We use our car for bigger shopping trips and longer distances.

Bus

Service changes boost ridership to St. Louis Park’s West End 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, January 17, 2019 3:23:00 PM

Customers board a Route 645 bus at the Louisiana Avenue Transit Center in St. Louis Park. When Chris Kaukis needs to get to work, he walks out of his downtown Minneapolis condo, crosses the street and hops on a Route 645 bus. 

In less than 15 minutes, he’s arrived at his office in St. Louis Park’s West End, a growing commercial and residential area just a few miles west of downtown on Interstate 394.  

The simplicity of getting to and from work without a vehicle, he said, was the primary reason he decided to move from Austin, Texas, to downtown Minneapolis a year ago.

“I wanted to get rid of my car and live in a major metropolitan downtown with a strong transportation system,” he said. 

Kaukis is among a growing number of customers taking transit to and from the West End and the surrounding area, which boasts nearly 12,000 jobs. Ridership in the West End area has increased by about a third since late 2016. 

The increase partly reflects a growing number of jobs and residences in the area. But service changes that took effect in mid-2017 have also provided a boost. 

The changes simplified some routes and introduced new all-day, limited stop service in the form of Route 645. Route 645 trips run between downtown Minneapolis and Wayzata, serving the West End, the Louisiana Avenue Transit Center and Ridgedale. Select Route 645 trips go as far west as Mound.

On a recent weekday morning trip, several Route 645 customers who boarded downtown said they regularly rode the bus to and from work. Like Kaukis, many did not own a vehicle or aspire to do so. 

“This is the only time I have to read,” said Janet Rolfer, who rides Route 645 to her job at the Ridgedale Library. “It’s nice and quiet and I don’t get interrupted.” 

Without transit, Rolfer said, she’d likely have to get a second job to buy a car and cover increased transportation costs. 

Customers traveling to jobs downtown are even more mindful of traffic and the cost of parking. 

St. Louis Park resident Bobby Pettit said riding Route 645 has allowed him and his wife to save money by sharing a vehicle. Another customer said she likely wouldn’t have taken a job downtown if not for the midday service provided on Route 645. 

Senior Planner Steve Mahowald led the service planning effort that resulted in Route 645 and other service changes to the West End. 

His charge to simplify Route 9 – which went from six to three branches – quickly led to something bigger, he said. The goal was to create more attractive and efficient service while continuing to serve existing riders. 

That was accomplished in part by putting Route 645 on local streets that had less frequent Route 9 branch service that has now been eliminated. Route 645 also provides more consistent service at a lower cost – as a limited stop route, customers pay local fares instead of express fares. 

The changes were made without increasing operating costs. 

Serving suburban employment centers like the West End can be a challenge. But the West End is uniquely situated for the kind of service improvements needed to build and sustain ridership, Mahowald said. 

“I don’t think there’s another area like this that’s this close to downtown and connected by a freeway,” he said. 

Learn more about service to St. Louis Park’s West End at metrotransit.org/west-end

Know Your Operator

Know Your Operator: Joseph Sturdevant  

Posted by John Komarek | Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:16:00 PM

After 20 years serving as a police officer, Joseph Sturdevant left the force and began to make a difference in his community at Metro Transit.

Ever since, his riders are thankful he made the switch. He is among Metro Transit's most-complimented operators.

To Sturdevant, the transition from police work to bus operations was easier than he imagined. Riders have noticed it the way he approaches his work, too. Passion, gratitude and respect are among Sturdevant's hallmark attributes. 

“Both jobs require patience and awareness of the people you’re serving,” Sturdevant said. I always remember that a rider’s problem is usually not about me, but another situation they’re experiencing.”

Sturdevant said he learned long ago that life is about relationships with people. He credits his praise to simple things like saying hello. Sturdevant said he didn’t think twice about such gestures, but that he now sees how they can make a rider’s day.  

One rider told him, “You drive well” then got off the bus. He didn’t think twice about that conversation until he later received a glowing review from that rider who compared his bus ride to the comfort of sitting on his couch at home.

As he continued to read his reviews during this interview, he needed to take a moment to let them sink in.

“I’m really glad I got the time to read these,” Sturdevant said. “They really make me feel good.”

He takes his role as a bus operator seriously because of the big responsibility it requires. A bus operator is often the first and last person a rider sees during the day.

“If you’re behind schedule or not in a good mood, your actions can have a compounding impact on someone’s day,” Sturdevant said. “I’m responsible for every single rider on my bus, and they’re depending on me.”

Currently, Sturdevant works a part-time split-shift, beginning at 4 a.m. He plans to grow into other positions with transit and has no plans to leave because he loves its democratizing affect.

“Whether you’re low- or high-income, feel powerful or powerless, everyone who rides the bus is treated the same: with respect and courtesy,” Sturdevant said.

Operator at a Glance

Hired: November 2001
Routes: 19, 721,781, 782
Garage: Martin J. Ruter
Lives: Fridley
Family: Wife and a daughter and a son – they’re twins!
Best Advice: “Be patient and aware – a rider’s problem is usually not about you, but a situation they’re experiencing.”

Help make an operator's day with a commendation

Submit a commendation for good work on our website or on Facebook or Twitter. If you don't know your operator's name yet, check for their operator number on their shoulder. It helps us get the good news to the right person.

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