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Light Rail METRO Green Line

Green Line tops 1 million rides, again 

| Thursday, November 13, 2014 2:40:00 PM

Customers riding the METRO Green Line.For the second straight month, customers boarded the METRO Green Line more than 1 million times.

There were 1,131,264 rides on the Green Line in October, up 6 percent from September’s total and a new monthly record. Average weekday ridership was 38,597 in October, which is 40 percent higher than 2015 projections. Projected average weekday ridership for 2030 is nearly 41,000.

There have been 4,609,209 total rides on the Green Line since service began in June.

The Green Line, local Route 16 and express Route 94 had a combined ridership of 1.25 million in October. Ridership on these University Avenue routes was up 78 percent compared to the same month last year, when service was provided by routes 16, 94 and the limited-stop Route 50 that was replaced by the Green Line.

The most active stop on the Green Line was East Bank Station, which had an average of 4,994 weekday boardings in October. The top five busiest Green Line stations were East Bank, Nicollet Mall, Central, Snelling and Stadium Village.

There were just over 8 million rides in October, up 6 percent compared to the same month last year. There have been nearly 70.8 total rides this year, more than 2 million rides or 3 percent ahead of 2013.

Regional transit ridership, including suburban, contracted and University of Minnesota service, is up 7 percent through the third quarter at 25.9 million total rides.

    > Vikings fans bleed purple, ride Green

    > Explore the Twin Cities using the Green Line A to Z Guide

   

Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Northstar University of Minnesota

Vikings fans bleed purple, ride Green 

| Tuesday, November 04, 2014 1:22:00 PM

Vikings fans board the METRO Green Line at Stadium Village Station.Vikings fans have long enjoyed traveling to and from home games on light rail. And while it’s been all about the METRO Blue Line in past seasons, the opening of the METRO Green Line and a move to TCF Bank Stadium has changed the gameday dynamic.

Fans traveling to the game on light rail now take the Green Line to Stadium Village Station, which sits just east of TCF Bank Stadium. Those traveling from Minneapolis or points south can ride the Blue Line to Downtown East Station – where the Vikings’ new stadium is being built – and make an easy transfer to the Green Line to complete their journey.

The expanded transit opportunities, which also include bus and Northstar services, have led to a major uptick in gameday ridership. An estimated 20 to 24 percent of fans – nearly 13,000 people – have taken light rail to each of the Vikings’ regular season home games so far this season. Gophers fans have also heavily used light rail on gamedays.

Ridership to Vikings games has nearly doubled from previous seasons, but careful planning is allowing fans to travel easily and efficiently to and from each game.

For the first time this season, Metro Transit is offering pre-paid, round trip light-rail fares online so fans can bypass ticket vending machines (Metro Transit police continue to check fares before customers are allowed to board). Ambassadors are also available to answer questions at the station. To help move fans safely and efficiently, extra trains provide additional service after each game as needed.

It’s hard to understand just how well the system works without seeing it in action. The below lapse, taken following Minnesota's win on Sunday, Nov.2,  does just that (the video compresses about an hour's worth of post-game boarding activity). The next time you head to the game, consider joining the crowd!

    > The easy way to Vikings games & events at TCF Bank Stadium

    > Plan your trip to TCF Bank Stadium

Bus Know Your Operator Safety

Like father, like son 

| Wednesday, October 08, 2014 4:05:00 PM

Heywood Garage operator Jack Berner took first place in Metro Transit’s 2014 Bus Roadeo, an annual skills competition that involves a series of driving challenges. In second place: his son, fellow Operator Jason Berner.

That the father-son duo placed first and second among the 108 operators who competed in this year’s competition isn’t all that surprising. Jack Berner has won 10 previous Roadeos and helped his son Jason prepare for this year’s competition by practicing on the course with him in advance.

Passing along safe driving advice is a matter of habit for the elder Berner. As an instructor, he works with fellow operators to improve their skills and succeed on the road. “I take a lot of satisfaction in that,” he said.

The third place finisher was Nicollet Operator Douglas John, who also took home the Rookie of the Year award. Garage champions include: Jack Berner (Heywood); Douglas John (Nicollet); David Palm (East Metro); David DeCarlo (South); and Denny Bell (Ruter). Metro Transit's top finishers will advance to state and national competitions.

Photo: Operator Jack Berner with Heywood Garage Manager Doyne Parsons.

> Star Tribune: Competition helps keep Metro Transit drivers sharp

> Using 'Keys' to put safety first

> Top operators driven to succeed

> Know Your Operator

Bus Community METRO Green Line St. Paul

Young transit fans go behind the scenes 

| Friday, July 11, 2014 9:37:00 AM

Liam and James Hanley know a thing or two about taking transit in the Twin Cities.

In fact, the brothers have become pretty expert at getting around on buses and trains, having ridden each of the METRO lines, Northstar and more than 20 bus routes since moving to Minnesota three years ago.

A collection of bus schedules from 2005 to the present fills two shoeboxes. James, 10, describes himself as the “family’s trip planner.” Liam, 12, prides himself on his solo trips to the Mall of America and other destinations (“Of all the trips I have taken, I have always come back in one piece even though my mom gets super worried,” he says.)

The brother’s adventures began when they began taking the Blue Line to meet their dad for lunch in downtown Minneapolis and grew after they moved from Edina to St. Paul, where they could access more bus routes. This fall, Liam, will begin riding Route 84 and the Green Line to school every day. James will share the commute the year after.

The enthusiasm for all things transit led Liam and James to recently write to Rider’s Almanac. Seeing their excitement, Metro Transit offered them and their mom, Kate, a tour of the Heywood Garage and the Blue Line’s Operations and Maintenance Facility.

On the tour, the boys saw the bus garage’s maintenance bays, rode in the cab of a light-rail vehicle and met with several staff members who answered their many questions. Here, the boys speak briefly about why they enjoy taking transit:

Bus Minneapolis Route of the Week Suburban Transit

Route 17: Avoiding the rush by taking the bus 

| Tuesday, July 08, 2014 11:50:00 AM

A Route 17 bus on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis. Every day for the last six years Charles Nelson has traveled across Minneapolis to see his wife at the nursing home where she lives near Lake Calhoun. Because the visits align with afternoon rush hour, he almost invariably elects to take the bus instead of battling traffic.

Watching cars idle on busy Lake Street, Nelson said he can’t help but wonder why anyone would want to drive under such conditions.              

“It just doesn’t make sense for me as a single person to be driving a car,” Nelson said as he traveled west on Route 17. “It’s not good for me or for the environment.”

Others on Route 17 similarly describe their use of transit as a practical, common sense response to the high costs of owning a vehicle and the pressures of Twin Cities traffic. On a recent weekday afternoon, passengers were found riding the bus to visit friends, get to work and avoid the hassles of driving to a Twins game at Target Field.

Such variety is common on the nearly 12-mile route because it serves so many distinct destinations.

Traveling westbound, Route 17 runs through residential and commercial areas of Northeast Minneapolis, across the 3rd Avenue Bridge and through the heart of downtown on Nicollet Mall. The route continues through Uptown on Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street and then continues west on Minnetonka Boulevard through St. Louis Park. Most trips end near Knollwood Mall, but some end near 36th Street and Wooddale on a branch that serves several large employers.

Bobby Watkins is among those who travel on Route 17 on a daily basis. Watkins lives in Northeast Minneapolis and takes the bus to get to his job at the Dairy Queen near 50th and France (transferring from Route 17 to Route 6 at the Uptown Transit Center).                                      

Watkins owned a vehicle for a few years but went car free three years ago when he faced an $800 repair bill. Instead of paying for car repairs, he puts his money toward a 31-day Go-To Card pass that allows him unlimited rides for $59 (rush-hour 31-day passes are $85 a month).

“The car just cost too much,” he said. “Breaking down once was about the same as a few months bus fare.”

Korissa Ebersole also uses transit as a way to save money. But as a new mother, she also likes the fact that she can cradle her seven-month-old child while riding the bus.

A passenger boards a Route 17 bus in St. Louis Park. “She really likes to be held and is a lot less fussy on the bus,” Ebersole said, returning downtown on Route 17 after having lunch with a friend.

Sitting next to Ebersole was Angela Record, who was headed to her job as a cleaner at Target Field. Record said she takes the bus to work and for most other trips because it’s a more relaxing, enjoyable experience.

“People don’t like to follow the rules of the road,” she said. “This feels so much safer to me.”

Rayla Heflin also sees the bus as a safer travel option. Heflin has a car but takes Route 17 to and from her jobs at Taco Bell and T.J. Maxx in St. Louis Park because she finds it hard not to look at her phone while driving. Riding the bus allows her to text, play games and listen to music all she likes.

“I try to limit it, but sometimes I get involved and miss my stop,” Heflin said. “I know if I was in the car and I was too focused on my device something a lot worse might happen.”

Bob Kelley also uses the bus as a way to keep himself in check. Car-free for the last three years, Kelley takes Route 17 to get to his job in Uptown and to visit friends in Northeast Minneapolis. Besides saving money on gas, insurance and car repairs, taking the bus also has a way of limiting his spending at the store.                       

“This helps keep my shopping trips to a minimum because I only buy what I can fit in my bag,” he said.

While many on Route 17 have made taking the bus a part of their daily routines, St. Louis Park resident Jane Nelson, her son and his girlfriend were making a rare trip to Target Field.

Looking to avoid traffic and parking, Nelson called Metro Transit’s Transit Information Center and learned Route 17 would provide a simple, one-seat ride to the ballpark.

“I just don’t know downtown very well so I thought it would be easier to walk to the bus stop than to try and figure out how to get around,” she said. “It was a lot easier to just go the four blocks to the bus stop.”

A Route 17 bus on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis. Route 17 At a Glance

Type: Urban Local

ServiceRoute 17 serves Northeast Minneapolis, downtown Minneapolis, Uptwon and St. Louis Park. Traveling southbound, buses run on Washington and Central avenues and through downtown on Nicollet Mall. Buses continue on Nicollet Avenue and 24th Street, stopping at the Uptown Transit Center on Hennepin Avenue before going to St. Louis Park on Lake Street and Minnetonka Boulevard (Route 17F goes south at Highway 7 to provide a connection to multiple employers in St. Louis Park). On the west end, Route 17 runs on Texas Avenue, serving Knollwood Mall and residential areas. Buses run every 5 to 15 minutes during rush hour, every 15 minutes midday and every 30 minutes in the evening. Service runs every 15 to 30 minutes on weekends and holidays. Service hours are approximately 5 a.m. to 2 a.m.             

Route Length: Approximately 12 miles

Stops: 123 eastbound, 125 westbound

Vehicles: 40-foot standard and hybrid-electric buses

Ridership: Approximately 2.1 million customer boardings in 2013, the ninth highest ridership among all Metro Transit bus routes.

History: Buses, including some of the first gas-electric models, began running on Nicollet and Hennepin avenues in the early 1920s. A streetcar line that ran from Hennepin and Lagoon avenues to Lake Street and Brownlow Avenue operated from 1892 to 1938. The Richfield Bus Co. operated buses on the far west end of what is now Route 17 until Twin City Rapid Transit took it over in the 1950s. The northeast section of the route is rooted in a horsecar line that opened in 1892 and ran from downtown Minneapolis to Broadway and Monroe streets, where Logan Park is now located. Horsecars were replaced with electric streetcars, which operated until 1954.

Future: Concept plans for the Southwest LRT project call for Route 17 to be extended to the proposed Blake Road Station.                                                              

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