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How We Roll

How We Roll: Kelci Stones 

Posted by John Komarek | Monday, September 09, 2019 10:51:00 AM

“How We Roll​” celebrates Metro Transit employees who commute and travel to many other destinations using transit or by biking, walking or carpooling. 

Kelci Stones, Senior Market Development Specialist

How do you get to work?

I’ve taken the Blue Line since it opened in 2004. When my family lived in south Minneapolis, I could drop my son at daycare in the building next to the Fort Snelling Station and ride in from there. We’ve since moved to Eagan, but Fort Snelling is still just a quick bike ride or drive from home. I walk between Target Field Station and the Heywood Office.

What do you enjoy most about your commute?

It’s 100 percent “me time.” I can read, listen to music or podcasts, do crossword puzzles or catch up on e-mails. I also keep an eye out for things like damaged signs on platforms and inside vehicles, outdated ads that need to be removed, graffiti and anything else that needs to be addressed so we can keep our system looking its best. If I see anything, I’ll report it so we can follow up. 

How do you get around outside of your commute?

My family uses a little bit of everything – we walk, ride bikes, drive and take transit. When we’re not road-tripping out west, our family vacations revolve around public transit. This summer, we went to Europe and relied entirely on public transportation. Thankfully, my kids have had plenty of practice walking city streets with suitcases and backpacks to transit stations.

Bus State Fair

Another successful year of State Fair bus service  

Posted by John Komarek | Friday, September 06, 2019 5:00:00 AM

The Minnesota State Fair started with record-setting attendance, including August 23, where 17.4% of fair-goers rode transit to and from the Fair, helping make another record year for express and local route service. On any given day, between 12-17% of attendees rode transit to the fair.

The Bloomington express lot had the largest ridership increase, gaining more than 15,000 rides compared to last year.  This is an increase of over 16%, and total rides were nearly 110,000. 

Parade Stadium and Maplewood Mall Express Bus Park & Rides also had an increase of 30% more riders than the previous year.

In all, Metro Transit provided 595,000 rides to and from the fairgrounds over the course of the fair.

Three express lots were discontinued this year due to construction – Knox Avenue, Oakdale, and Fridley. 

State Fair Edition of Hey! Where Does this Bus Go?
Local comedian Tane Danger met up with fair-goers boarding express buses at the Maplewood Mall Transit Center & Park & Ride last week. Watch Danger take a turn as a Metro Transit ambassador and catch up with a woman who's been attending the fair for more than 80 years in the latest edition of "Hey! Where Does This Bus Go?"

 

Bus

With Auggie Pass, students pay a little, ride a lot 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, September 03, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Augsburg University undergraduates can ride transit as often as needed this school year, without facing significant expense, thanks to a first-of-its-kind program advocated by students. 

For the first time, all undergraduate day students who pay the school's Green Fee can use an Auggie Pass to take unlimited bus and light rail rides. Augsburg's student government approved a $5 fee increase to help cover program costs. The school is also contributing operating funds. 

This is the first time a Twin Cities college or university has automatically provided transit passes to all eligible students, equitably expanding access to transit. 

“As someone who uses the bus every day, it’s great not to have that financial burden,” said Skye Rygh, who advocated for the program as a student government member. "It’s really economically advantageous to students who pay for school, like me, to not have to choose between textbooks and bus fare.”

The Auggie Pass is part of an ongoing effort to promote sustainable, economical transportation options at Augsburg. The school has also hosted transit tours and other educational events to increase awareness among students, faculty and staff. 

Augsburg's West Bank campus is served by the METRO Green Line, METRO Blue Line and multiple bus routes. 

More than 30 area colleges will offer College Passes this year. College Passes allow students to ride as often as needed for $165 per semester. 

“Efficiently connecting people to school, work and other destinations is at the heart of what we do,” Metro Transit General Manager Wes Kooistra said. “We are excited about this partnership and hope it develops into a model that can be duplicated.”

Transit Improvements

TOD: Developments succeed near high frequency transit 

Posted by John Komarek | Friday, August 30, 2019 1:43:00 PM

A new report from Metro Transit's Office of Transit Oriented Development finds that areas served by high frequency are attracting a considerable share of the region’s housing and commercial development. 

According to the report, more than a third of the development that has occurred over the past 15 years has happened within a half-mile of corridors served by light rail, Bus Rapid Transit and bus routes with service at least every 10 to 15 minutes. The corridors represent 3% of the region's total land area. 

“It’s a testament to the arterial importance of transit throughout the region,” Lucy Galbraith, Metro Transit Director of TOD said. “Wherever transit goes, developers continue to find success.”

Developers like David Wellington agree. He’s built several projects near transit, including his own private residence near the METRO Green Line, and has committed to building new housing near the METRO Green Line Extension, METRO A Line and METRO C Line.

“Transit access has really tuned us into the community around us,” Wellington said. “We’ve found it’s a big win to develop near high frequency transit.”

Past development that has occurred along transit corridors is valued at around $12 billion. An additional $8.2 billion in development, including 29,000 new housing units, is expected to occur along high frequency transit in the future. 

Chase Real Estate is among those with an eye toward transit. Chase is building a 170-unit apartment building near a future METRO Orange Line station in Burnsville. Opening in 2021, the Orange Line will provide frequent, all day service on I-35W between downtown Minneapolis and Burnsville.

“We continue to see that Bus Rapid Transit, urbanism and walkability are a primary appeal for where residents choose to live and how they connect to jobs,” Development Manager Joe McElwain said.

Read the Development Trends Along Transit report 

Learn more about the Transit Oriented Development Office

Know Your Operator

Know Your Operator: Lobsang Choephel 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, August 22, 2019 10:04:00 AM

Train Operator Lobsang Choephel.

Lobsang Choephel fell in love with driving in India, where he drove cabs and spent hours shuttling tourists to and from Delhi in a large coach bus.

So when he arrived in the United States, it wasn’t a surprise that he found himself back behind the wheel.

He worked as a school bus driver and spent nearly a decade transporting passengers and equipment for Abbot Hospital. In 2006, a friend suggested applying at Metro Transit.

After three years as a bus operator, Choephel received more advice. This time, his co-workers were encouraging him to become a train operator.

Choephel wasn’t sure about the idea but decided to give it a try. The first few years were admittedly tough but, after a decade on the Blue Line, Choephel now says he’s found his calling.

“I can’t describe how much I love it,” he said recently from the Blue Line’s Operations and Maintenance Facility. “I’m addicted.”

Choephel is grateful to have found a career he enjoys. And he’s thankful to have found it in Minnesota, too.

In the late 1950s, Choephel’s family immigrated from Tibet to India, where he was raised as a Buddhist Monk. In his early 20s, Choephel found himself searching for new opportunities.

After securing an American Visa, he traveled across the globe unsure but hopeful.

In Minnesota, he connected with fellow Tibetans who helped him find work and adjust to his new life.

Nearly 30 years after landing in the Twin Cities, Choephel and his wife are raising two children and can’t imagine a better life.

“When I won the immigration lottery it was as if I won the actual lottery,” Choephel said. “That was my Powerball.”

We're hiring!

If you like working with people and want to make a difference in your community, apply to become a Metro Transit bus operator. All Metro Transit train operators begin as bus operators. Learn more about applying at metrotransit.org/drive.

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