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How We Roll

How We Roll: Shea Peeples 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, August 16, 2017 2:38:00 PM

Metro Transit Operator Shea Peeples at Heywood Garage. 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 are a chance to illustrate how much we have in common with our customers when it comes to how we get around. See you out there!

Shea Peeples, Part-Time Bus Operator, #77104

How do you get to work?

I live in south Minneapolis, specifically in the Midtown Phillips neighborhood, and I ride my bike to work at Heywood Garage. I have a combined road/mountain bike that I ride year-round, even in the rain and the snow. You just have to dress for it, with lots of layers and rain gear. 

Why do you choose to bike?

I used to drive to my previous job as a librarian, which I had for 15 years. On the last day of that job, my car died. I didn’t want to buy another car so I started riding my bike everywhere, including to work. Now I ride my bike up to four times a day. It’s a good way to experience the city and enjoy nature, plus you have the obvious exercise benefit. It’s invigorating to roll through the streets at 4:45 a.m. on my way to work!

Do you bike and use transit outside of commuting?

I have two baskets on my bike, so I sometimes ride my bike to get groceries. If it’s a big grocery shopping trip, I will borrow my housemate’s car. I also ride the bus and take the light rail. The routes I drive are the 250 south, the 673 and the 270F. The routes I take personally are the 21, the 5, the 14 and the Blue Line. Between driving and riding, I get to see a lot of the city. I also love public transportation because I can read, which I obviously don’t do on my bike.

State Fair

Know before you go: Minnesota State Fair 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, August 15, 2017 12:22:00 PM

Customers exit Metro Transit express buses at the Minnesota State Fair.Wherever you’re coming from, Metro Transit is the easiest way to get to and from the Minnesota State Fair. Even if you’re an experienced customer, though, there are a few things you should know before heading out for food, fun and farm animals this year.

There’s an app for that 

Customers who use Metro Transit’s new mobile app to purchase State Fair express bus tickets will receive a discount through the end of the State Fair. The best discount is four tickets for $15 – a $5 savings that can be put toward a bucket of Sweet Martha’s or other fair food. The free app can be downloaded through iTunes or Google Play. Round-trip fares – still $5 – can also be purchased for a discount in advance online through opening day or in cash at the time of boarding. As always, parking at Metro Transit’s Park & Ride sites is free!

Traffic? You betcha

The end of summer usually brings relief from road construction. That’s not quite the case this year. Construction on I-94 will affect all traffic coming through downtown Minneapolis from the west metro. To avoid the mess, express buses traveling to and from the I-394 & County Road 73 Park & Ride will travel through the north metro using roadways with bus-only shoulder lanes. Buses traveling to and from the Dunwoody Park & Ride may also be re-routed to avoid congestion. Due to construction in the East Metro, buses serving the Newport and Cottage Grove Park & Rides may also be diverted. Customers who know they want to arrive at a certain time should plan ahead and consider giving themselves extra time. Another date when roads might be a little busier than usual: Thursday, Aug. 31, when the Twins, Vikings, Gophers and Saints all play at home.

We’ve moved!

Due to construction, express buses will no longer be serving the National Sports Center in Blaine. Instead, customers can catch express buses from the 95th Avenue Park & Ride just a few miles east off Interstate 35W. The Park & Ride will remain open to commuters throughout the fair, but with 1,500 available parking spaces there will be room for everyone. One bonus of the new site: covered waiting areas that provide shade and shelter in the event of poor weather.

Stay informed

Metro Transit employees will be out in legion and happy to answer any questions you may have. Before leaving home, though, you may want to review schedule and location information and check Metro Transit’s Twitter feed for service updates (some Park & Rides do reach capacity). You can also find Metro Transit at the Eco Experience and the Grandstand – come say hello!

METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line

Preserving public art adorning transit stations 

Metro Transit has one of the largest collections of public art in the state
Posted by Kathy Graul | Friday, July 28, 2017 10:05:00 AM

Conservators are hard at work repairing and cleaning the public art along Metro Transit’s rail lines and transit shelters. With more than 70 pieces of art, the agency owns one of the largest collections in the state.​Because it’s so dispersed – and in some cases cleverly disguised – it’s difficult to appreciate how pervasive public art is across the transit system.

But with more than 70 distinct pieces, Metro Transit is the caretaker of one of the largest collections of public art in the state.

Stations along the Green and Blue lines each have unique art that reflects their surroundings. Artwork can also be found on the Northstar Commuter Rail Line as well as several bus stops, like the flowerpot shelter in North Minneapolis.

“The program aims to inspire discovery in otherwise predictable spaces, improving the rider experience and making it more pleasant,” Public Art Administrator Mark Granlund said.

Like any other part of the transit system, art needs to be maintained as time, weather and humans take their collective toll.

Granlund joined Metro Transit last year to take stock of the needs, begin a campaign to make necessary repairs and plan for future maintenance. Before coming to Metro Transit, he performed similar work for the City of St. Paul’s Parks & Recreation Department.

Restoration is getting underway in earnest this year.

Among the first signs was the recent appearance of professional conservators at the Blue Line’s 50th Street/Minnehaha Park Station, where oak leaves, vines and animals are reflected in metal fencing, bronze carvings and screened glass. Conservators began by cleaning the metal and removing grafitti. 

“There is glass, bronze, and metal, and they all need reactive and proactive maintenance,” Granlund said.

Later this summer, 52 painted steel pieces that adorn a decorative steel fence at the Blue Line’s Cedar-Riverside Station will be disassembled, cleaned, repaineted and put back together. There are also plans to fix the small boxes that feature on-demand audio and video recordings, found at several Blue Line stations.

Facilities staff regularly clean stations and remove grafitti. But conservators have been brought in because they have expertise working with particular materials. The goal is to bring the art back as close to its original condition as possible while preserving the artist’s intent.

Because it’s just a few years old, artwork at Green Line stations is in relatively good shape and not yet in need of significant restoration. After learning lessons on the Blue Line, Green Line artwork was also designed to be more durable.

Getting the collection back in shape will be an exhaustive process, but Granlund said it’s well worth the time and energy.

“It’s definitely a major project, but in the end, taking care of the art is what we are entrusted with,” he said.

 > Blue Line Public Art

 > Green Line Public Art

 > Transit Usage Guidelines (including public art proposals)

How We Roll

How We Roll: Christina Morrison, Project Manager, Bus Rapid Transit 

Project Manager in a one-car household finds benefits in taking kids on transit
Posted by Kathy Graul | Wednesday, July 19, 2017 2:07:00 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 are a chance to illustrate how much we have in common with our customers when it comes to how we get around. See you out there!

Christina Morrison, Project Manager, Bus Rapid Transit

How do you get to work?

I live in St. Paul and I take the A Line to the Blue Line to downtown Minneapolis. My husband and I moved last Spring after living on University Avenue for about ten years. When I lived on University, I took the bus and the Green Line. I’ve been a daily transit rider for about twelve years.

Why do you choose to take transit?

We’ve been a one-car household since 2007. My husband works in the northern suburbs so he takes the car to work. I’ve always worked in the city, first as a planner for the City of St. Paul and now for Metro Transit, and haven’t needed a vehicle to get to work. As a Metro Transit employee with a free transit pass, my transportation costs are zero.

When my husband and I had kids, we chose a daycare on transit instead of getting a second car. We have twins who are now two years old. I walk the twins to daycare every morning right now, but in our previous location we used a combination of the Green Line and bus. That’s when I really discovered the challenges of bringing kids on transit! Strollers can be tough on buses, and with two infants I did not have a choice about using a stroller. Unlike the A Line or the train, buses don’t all have low-floor doors and open layouts — things you take for granted when you’re traveling by yourself. Like anything, you find a way to make it work.

How do you use transit outside of commuting?

We take the A Line to the Rosedale Mall, to dinner, to get groceries, or to get to the Blue Line and the Mall of America. We also rely on transit for doctor’s appointments, haircuts and any other kind of errand.

What are the benefits of bringing your kids on transit?

There’s something about having twins that make people want to talk to you. I had a woman tell me twins are good luck in her culture and asked if she could sit next to us. Another time, my kids were crabby and an older gentleman started singing Sinatra to them. People really identify with children and when they see them on transit they want to say hello. It also teaches my kids about the community and how to interact with people. I like that it will have been part of their lives since the day they were born. I always say kids are our future ridership. If you start them at a young age they will be comfortable with it and more likely to continue riding for the rest of their lives.

Bus Bus Maintenance

Fareboxes stay the same, but new challenges arise 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, July 07, 2017 3:16:00 PM

Lead Revenue Mechanic Technician Tim Maloy has spent the past 20 years repairing and maintaining fareboxes, a job he says continues to pose new challenges every day. To improve reliability, Maloy has been on a campaign to replace the metal pieces that hold transfer cards so they are less prone to jam. Metro Transit has been using the same fareboxes for nearly a quarter-century.

But even after more than 20 years of keeping them in shape, Lead Revenue Mechanic Technician Tim Maloy says his job is as interesting as ever.

“It’s a little strange to be working with the same piece of equipment after all this time, but there are still days they beat you up,” he said from the Instruction Center, where he and several other farebox technicians work. “There’s never boredom.”

The intrigue comes in part from the fact that the fareboxes are largely mechanical pieces of equipment – carefully-calibrated sets of plastic gears, belts, sensors and circuit boards that pull in cash and coins deposited by cash-paying customers.

With so many moving parts, the margin for error is small. Lint, sunflower seeds and other small debris that comes from a customer’s pocket can easily jam the machines.

The puzzles technicians face aren’t easily  solved by reading a manual or running a quick diagnostic test, either.

“There are things you can look at, but you don’t really have a troubleshooting process,” said Trevor Scholtz, one of two-dozen farebox technicians. “All you can do is take it apart and eventually find out what’s wrong with it. And the only way to test is to put it all back together again.”

More recently, Maloy has been on a campaign to steadily replace the metal pieces that hold stacks of transfer cards in what’s known as a trim unit, which attaches to the coin and bill collecting machine. A slight offset in the old design would cause more than one ticket to get fed into the machine, frequently causing jams that required repair.

“That’s been my main goal, because that was what was contributing to the bulk of our road calls,” said Maloy, whose 37-year career also includes stints as a vault puller and in Central Counting.

The majority of the cassettes have now been replaced, and farebox-related road calls have been cut in half.

Just like any other mechanical failure on a bus, fareboxes that break down while in service can cause a bus to be replaced. Farebox technicians may also be called out to replace parts or make quick repairs during a layover. To prevent those kind of situations, each service garage has at least one farebox technician who spends their mornings repairing fareboxes before pull-out each morning.

Maloy and several other Farebox Technicians at the Instruction Center also focus heavily on preventative maintenance, disassembling, cleaning and rebuilding each machine every six months. Each rebuild takes up to four hours.

“It’s the only thing that keeps these things going this length of time,” Maloy said.

Technicians at the Instruction Center also maintain ticket vending machines that customers use to purchase fares at stations and vault equipment used to securely collect farebox collections when a bus pulls in.

Technicians do not maintain the fare care readers, but they did take the lead on a recent fleetwide replacement and will continue to outfit new buses with the latest technology. 

Like Maloy, several technicians have spent long careers working with fare collection technology, and are still excited about what they do.

Technician Lisle “Butch” Vickerman helped install the existing fareboxes 24 years ago, crawling under buses to detach older machines that accepted only coins and tokens, and weren’t able to count the change. These days, he spends his time repairing circuit boards.

“It’s still fun after all these years,” Vickerman said.

    > Balancing the books between the farebox and the bank

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