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Bus Community Light Rail

Taking time to say thanks on Transit Driver Appreciation Day 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, March 16, 2018 12:45:00 PM

Metro Transit’s 1,600 bus and train operators received extra kudos this week as supporters celebrated Transit Driver Appreciation Day.

Transit Driver Appreciation Day got its start in 2009, when a group of riders in Seattle, Wash., wanted to show support for their operators. It has historically been celebrated on March 18, the date the first known bus service is believed to have been offered, in 1662 in Paris, France (in the Twin Cities, auto owners began charging for rides as early as 1915, a business that soon gave rise to the area’s first bus services).

Today, Metro Transit is among many transit agencies that pause to recognize their operators for their service.

In addition to the messages of appreciation, The Current helped recognize Transit Driver Appreciation Day this year by devoting its morning Coffee Break to transit-themed songs. The playlist included The Hollies “Bus Stop” and The Replacements “Kiss Me On The Bus” (find more "essential transit tunes" on CityLab).

General Manager Brian Lamb, Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff, and several Council members also took time to personally thank operators. 

Thanks to everyone who helped us celebrate and remember, operators can be commended for their service any time. Let us know what you love about your operator by submitting a commendation online or by calling 612-373-3333.

Don’t know their name? We can identify the operator with their driver number, found on the uniform sleeve, vehicle number, and information about where and when you rode.

Learn more about some of Metro Transit's bus and train operators through our "Know Your Operator" series. Also, we’re hiring bus operators. Just saying.

Here’s a small sampling of shout-outs from social media:

Bus In the News Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line

Super Bowl festivities boost ridership 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, March 09, 2018 2:30:00 PM

Super Bowl festivities provided a notable ridership boost earlier this year.  

The Green and Blue lines and the Northstar Commuter Rail Line each saw their highest-ever January ridership totals and nearly 210,000 additional rides were taken over more than a week’s worth of Super Bowl events.

Super Bowl festivities began on Friday, Jan. 26 and continued through gameday, Sunday, Feb. 4. Ridership on those dates increased about 12 percent measured against comparable dates.

Ridership was boosted in part thanks to extra service that was offered to Super Bowl festivities. More than 17,500 rides were provided to and from downtown Minneapolis from area Park & Rides where special express bus trips were offered. 

Fares collected during the 10-day period offset the cost of the extra service that was provided.

In all, nearly 6.4 million rides were provided in January, including more than 1 million Green Line rides, nearly 823,000 Blue Line rides and close to 67,000 Northstar rides.

“Going into the Super Bowl, we felt like the months of preparation had us ready to show the world how a first-class transit system contributes to the success of this international spectacle,” said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb. “Looking back, we proved to hundreds of thousands of fans, visitors and everyday riders that our system and employees were more than a contribution. We were essential to the success of our region during all of Super Bowl 52’s events.”

> WCCO: Inside Metro Transit's unprecedented Super Bowl plan

Bus Shelters

Fulfilling our commitment to creating a better bus stop 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, February 27, 2018 9:23:00 AM

A bus shelter on Nicollet Mall includes heat, light and real-time signs.

From General Manager Brian Lamb 

A little over three years ago, we committed to providing customers a better experience at the bus stop. 

Since then, we’ve installed shelters at nearly 200 locations, primarily in Minneapolis and St. Paul, where they either didn’t exist or needed to be replaced. Light and on-demand heaters have been included at many of these sites.  

Some of the region’s busiest boarding locations have also been improved. A dozen shelters with heat, light and real-time signs were installed along Nicollet Mall last month and a rapid bus-style shelter was recently built at Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue. 

Concrete pads that improve accessibility were also put in at more than two-dozen sites last year in a continued effort to make it easier for everyone to get around bus stops. 

And more improvements are on the way. 

As many as 80 more shelters will be installed this year, more than half of which will be at sites where there currently isn’t any protection from the elements. These plans also include replacing aged shelters that had previously been privately-owned and maintained. 

Next month, construction will begin on the region’s second rapid bus line, the C Line, which will bring two-dozen stations with shelters, real-time signs, security features and ticket vending machines to a corridor now served by Route 19. Similar plans are being made for the Route 5 corridor. 

Later this year, customers will also see newly-designed shelter schedules that provide clearer information and real-time signs at some shelter sites. 

Perhaps just a significant as these improvements, though, is the accompanying effort that’s been made, in partnership with several community partners and customers, to think about future bus stop investments.   

Assuming customers with less frequent service had longer waits, we’d used guidelines that led shelters to be placed in some suburban locations where we served relatively few customers.

After receiving community feedback and reviewing wait time data we recently revised those guidelines. Under the new guidelines, shelters will be considered at any site where there are more than 30 boardings a day, with a priority on sites that have more than 100 daily boardings. 

The guidelines also place a higher priority on locations that serve people with disabilities, older adults and those who are less likely to own a vehicle. Transfer points and boarding locations near healthcare or social service centers will also get greater consideration.

The new criteria are a clear demonstration of how equity, defined as equal access to opportunity for all, is guiding our work. 

As always, we want to hear about your bus stop experience and what you think can be done to make it even better. Please contact Customer Relations to share your thoughts.

Learn more about bus stop improvements 

Better Bus Stops

Map: Review recent and planned bus stop improvements

Guidelines for placing and removing waiting shelters

Using community wisdom to design Better Bus Stops

Do bus stop amenities like shelters and benches make waiting for the bus more tolerable?  Research from the University of Minnesota's Center for Transportation Studies suggests that yes, they do. 

Community

A son’s memories lead to Wall of Fame honors 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, February 09, 2018 10:16:00 AM

For Metro Transit Safety Specialist Tim Bowman, White Castle is more than a place to get a steamed, five-hole hamburger. 

The restaurant is such a prominent part of his life, in fact, that Bowman recently wrote to the restaurant asking if they’d consider including his father and him in their Wall of Fame, which for the past 17 years has recognized fervent fans like him known as “Cravers.”

This week, he traveled to Indianapolis, Ind., to accept the honors at a corporate get-together. In addition to an induction ceremony, he and other invited guests were treated to a private dining experience at a local White Castle. Bowman took the opportunity to step behind the counter to flip burgers, grill onions and fold boxes. 

The experience comes more than 50 years after Donald Bowman began taking his son to the White Castle on St. Paul's Rice Street, where they'd order from the front seat of the car. Later in life, they’d meet at the White Bear Avenue location before bowling on weekends or before heading off to work. After he got married, Bowman began taking his wife there for their white tablecloth service on Valentine’s Day. 

A 37-year employee in St. Paul’s street maintenance department, Donald Bowman also frequently met retired co-workers at the restaurant.  

When his dad entered a nursing home a few years ago, White Castle became the final stop when Tim Bowman and his dad ventured out to run errands. It was during those visits that Tim Bowman realized just how deep a connection his father had to the restaurant and those who worked there. 

“We’d go through the drive through, he’d be in the passenger seat, and there would be three or four employees hanging out the window because they hadn’t seen him in so long,” he said. 

When Donald succumbed to illness in 2016, more than 200 hamburgers and cheeseburgers were served at the funeral. Tim Bowman said this week's induction into the Wall of Fame is an even more enduring way of memorializing the bond that was developed between father, son and White Castle over the years. 

“When I think of the 57 years I had with my dad, and of the 53 that I can remember, White Castle is heavily included in them,” he said. “It’s a real honor for my father and I to be inductees in the White Castle Hall of Fame.”

D Line Rapid Bus Network

Feedback sought on D Line station plan 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, February 06, 2018 3:17:00 AM

An A Line rapid bus station includes features like ticket-vending machines, on-demand heat, light and real-time signs.Metro Transit is seeking feedback on initial station plans for what will become the region’s third and most expansive rapid bus line.

The D Line will deliver faster, more frequent service and enhanced stations to an 18-mile corridor now served by Route 5, Metro Transit’s busiest local bus route. The D Line will serve Brooklyn Center, North Minneapolis, downtown Minneapolis, Midtown, Richfield and Bloomington.

A Draft Station Plan calls for 37 new stations that include shelters with heat and light, distinctive pylons with real-time information displays, ticket vending machines and security features. The D Line will terminate at the existing Mall of America and Brooklyn Center transit centers.

Download the Draft Station Plan 

Feedback on the station plan will be accepted through Tuesday, March 6. Comment through the project website, by sending an e-mail to dline@metrotransit.org or by calling Customer Relations at 612-333-3333.

Staff will also share information, answer questions and accept feedback at several upcoming open houses. The open houses are scheduled for:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 13, 3 to 5 p.m., Chicago-Lake Transit Center
  • Thursday, Feb. 15, 6 to 8 p.m., Richfield Municipal Center
  • Saturday, Feb. 17, 2 to 4 p.m., Mall of America Transit Center
  • Wednesday, Feb. 21, 6 to 8 p.m., North Community High School, Minneapolis
  • Thursday, Feb. 22, 6 to 8 p.m., Wellstone International High School, Minneapolis
  • Saturday, March 3, 2 to 4 p.m., Brooklyn Center Transit Center

Community feedback will help inform a recommended station plan to be finalized and brought to the Metropolitan Council for approval later this year. Stations and other improvements will be designed in 2018-19. Construction would begin in 2020 or 2021, pending full project funding.

Like the A Line, the D Line will deliver faster and more frequent service by allowing customers to purchase fares before boarding, using technology that allows buses to request green lights and making fewer stops. Customers will also be able to board through front or rear doors of 60-foot buses, which will be larger and more comfortable than the 40-foot buses currently used on Route 5.

The D Line is expected to see an average of 23,500 average weekday rides by 2030.

Route 5 will continue to provide local service in the corridor, but will operate less frequently after the D Line opens. More information about Route 5 service changes will be shared as D Line planning continues.

Receive future project updates by signing up for the D Line newsletter 


Learn more about the rapid bus network

The D Line is one of several planned rapid bus lines that will bring faster, more frequent service to the region’s busiest transit corridors. The region’s first rapid bus line, the A Line, opened in 2016 and has boosted corridor ridership by about one third. Construction on the C Line, serving Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center, will begin this spring. Service is scheduled to begin in 2019.

A completed rapid bus network would cover 100 miles and include 400 enhanced stations, directly serving about 20 percent of the region’s residents and more than 230,000 jobs. Rapid bus lines are an essential part of growing bus ridership, with the potential to see an estimated 160,000 average weekday boardings by 2030, representing about a third of total bus ridership.

Learn more at metrotransit.org/abrt

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