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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

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

Rail lines set records as Metro Transit ridership tops 81.9 million in 2017 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, January 25, 2018 3:00:00 PM

A record number of light rail and commuter rail rides were taken in 2017 as Metro Transit’s annual ridership topped 81.9 million. 

Metro Transit has provided more than 80 million rides in each of the past seven years, sustaining the highest ridership the agency has seen in three decades. Average weekday ridership in 2017 was 264,347. 

“Last year’s strong ridership underscores just how many people across the region are relying on us to get them safely to and from work, school and many other destinations,” Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said. “On behalf of everyone at Metro Transit, I’d like to thank all those who are placing their confidence in us and making transit a part of their lives.”

The 2017 ridership total includes a record 13.1 million rides on the METRO Green Line, which has seen ridership grow every year since its 2014 opening and had its highest single-day ridership ever on Aug. 31, 2017. Nearly 10.7 million rides were taken on the Blue Line, breaking the previous record set in 2015. 

Ridership on the Green Line increased about 3.5 percent compared to 2016, while Blue Line ridership increased nearly 4 percent. 

Nearly 794,000 rides were provided on the Northstar Commuter Rail Line, a nearly 12 percent increase over 2016. Last year’s Northstar ridership broke a record set in 2013. 

Metropolitan Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff announced the ridership records in her State of the Region address on Thursday

“Congratulations and thank you to all our Metro Transit employees who play a role in providing a service that people across this region use in record numbers. This is yet another reminder that we do truly have one of the best transit systems in the nation,” said Chair Tchourumoff.

“2017 was a trifecta for our rail lines in the metro,” Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said. “With gas prices hovering at $2.50 per gallon, all three of our rail lines – Green, Blue, and Northstar – set ridership records. These three rail lines now constitute 31 percent of all rides on Metro Transit. This is another piece of strong evidence that rail investment is good for the Twin Cities.”

Systemwide, ridership remained essentially flat compared to 2016. 

Metro Transit provided more than 57.3 million bus rides in 2017, including more than 1.5 million rides on the A Line. Average weekday ridership in the A Line corridor has increased by about one-third since the rapid bus line opened. 

“The A Line is a prime example of the investments this region needs,” said B Kyle, president & CEO of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. “Bus rapid transit is an integral part of the system, which we know the vast majority of people are using to get to work or school. Every day I hear from our business members how critical transit investments are to their ability to attract and retain talent.”

“Our region needs to keep the momentum we’re seeing with these ridership records,” said Jonathan Weinhagen, president & CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce. “Continuing to maintain and improve our regional system will pay huge dividends for everyone, not just the business community. We’ve reached a tipping point where maintaining the status quo means we’re falling behind our peer regions. It’s time to double down on transit investment.”

Total bus ridership declined about two percent. The decline mirrors a national trend attributed in part to low gas prices. Ridership losses were greatest during off-peak hours and on routes that were detoured off Nicollet Mall during construction. 

  2017 Ridership 2017 Average Weekday Ridership

Bus

55,751,961

184,736

Green Line

13,142,163

40,554

Blue Line

10,668,832

31,510

A Line

1,570,670

4,727

Northstar

793,796

2,819

Total

81,927,422

264,347

 

Learn more about Metro Transit's 2017 accomplishments

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