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Light rail construction continues in Minneapolis 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, October 25, 2017 1:00:00 PM

Light rail service will be suspended on portions of the Green and Blue lines this weekend as construction related to improvements in downtown Minneapolis continues.

Buses will replace trains from 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, through 3:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 30, between Target Field Station and the Franklin Avenue and Raymond Avenue stations. Replacement buses will operate on a similar schedule as trains but can take more time.  

While light rail service is suspended, crews will install overhead power lines that transfer energy to trains, underground cabling that will better manage electrical current and signals that guide train movements.

The Washington Avenue Bridge will also be cleaned and painted, and the City of Minneapolis will be repainting crosswalks in several locations.

Construction work will be occurring around the clock until light rail service can be restored.

This summer, light rail service was suspended downtown for nearly two weeks as crews replaced sections of worn rail and installed two new crossovers sections that allow trains to move from one track to another downtown.

The overhead power lines and signals being installed this weekend will allow the trains to use the new crossover sections. For safety reasons, the wiring and signals work couldn’t occur during this summer’s shutdown.

The crossovers and signals will improve reliability by allowing trains to switch between tracks when there is increased train traffic or if a section of track is unexpectedly blocked. The new rail has also created a smoother ride, and will be more durable over time.

Light rail service will be suspended in downtown Minneapolis overnight several times in November and December to allow for signal testing. Test trains will move through downtown but replacement bus service is being provided because the test runs are expected to take longer than scheduled trips.

Pre-planned light rail shutdowns are scheduled during weekends and overnight to limit the impact on customers. In September, combined average weekday ridership on the Blue and Green lines was about 17 percent higher than on Saturdays and 71 percent higher than on Sundays.

The window for construction is also constrained by weather.

Some additional weekend closures are planned for 2018, but no extended light rail shutdowns are expected for at least several years.

Sign up for Rider Alerts to stay up-to-date about upcoming rail maintenance this fall!

Awards

Metro Transit operator, mobile fare app, win awards from MPTA 

Posted by Marisa Helms | Tuesday, October 17, 2017 9:42:00 AM

Recently-retired Operator Renee Stafford was celebrated as the state’s Bus Operator of the Year by the Minnesota Public Transit Association this week.

The MPTA also recognized Metro Transit with a Management Innovation award for its new mobile fare app.

Both awards were presented at MPTA’s annual conference in St. Cloud on October 16.

Stafford, #603, retired in June, exactly 41 years after her career at Metro Transit began. When she retired, Stafford was Metro Transit’s longest-serving female operator.

Stafford said she was honored by the award, even though she never sought recognition or felt she’d done anything out of the ordinary.

“I just treated people nicely and tried to do my best at my job,” she said. “It feels amazing that my service and the things that I did people noticed. It’s wonderful to be recognized.”

Stafford took interest in becoming an operator while riding the bus to and from classes at the University of Minnesota. She quickly grew to enjoy the work, joking with friends that it was like driving her living room around the city.

Stafford spent the last seven years of her career on Route 9, becoming friends with many of her longtime customers. She was also well-liked by her peers at Nicollet Garage, where she spent her career.

This is the third time a Metro Transit operator has been named MPTA’s Bus Operator of the Year. Retirees Jerry Olson and Tony Taylor were honored in 2014 and 2013, respectively.

Also on Monday, the MPTA presented Metro Transit with a Management Innovation award recognizing the benefits its mobile fare app has brought to customers.

Customers who download the app can buy and use a variety of fare products on their mobile devices, providing instant and cash-free access to transit. Customers show operators or transit police a dynamic display to prove they’ve paid their fare.

Since being introduced last November, app usage has grown 30 percent a month. More than $400,000 in fares have been purchased through the fare since the beginning of 2017, including $100,000 in sales in August alone.

Rider Information Safety

Safety tips for pub-crawling zombies 

Posted by Marisa Helms | Friday, October 13, 2017 12:20:00 PM

Here's how to have fun and stay undead with Metro Transit during the Zombie Pub Crawl in downtown Minneapolis this Saturday, October 14.

You can join the apocalyptic mob by taking one of Metro Transit's many bus and rail options. And, once you're downtown where the beer and brains are flowing, please remember these tips:

  • > When refreshing fake blood throughout the evening, please keep it on your own flesh and off the streets, buses, rail cars and platforms. Cleaning it up after you’re gone really bites.
     
  • > A couple more notes about the bloody business of being a zombie: If we see zombie blood on a transit vehicle, we may have to suspend service, and therefore delay the undead from the festivities. Nobody wants that. And, here's a thought: Why not buy an All-Day Pass via Metro Transit's zombie-friendly app? This will keep your bloody hands off the ticket machines.
     
  • > As the zombie in you shuffles and moans through the streets of downtown, make sure to stay clear of the light rail tracks and only use pedestrian crossings.
     
  • > No brain stealing at bus stops and rail platforms. Zombie horseplay at bus stops and on the platform is dangerous - especially near moving trains.

Have fun and stay undead!

How We Roll

How We Roll: Charles Carlson 

Posted by Marisa Helms | Tuesday, October 10, 2017 11:29:00 AM

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!

Charles Carlson, Senior Manager, Bus Rapid Transit/Small Starts Project Office

How do you get to work?

I’m a dedicated transit rider. Last year, I logged more than 650 bus and train rides, mostly on the METRO Blue Line. My wife and I bought a house near the Blue Line’s 46th Street Station about 11 years ago because we wanted walkable and green areas nearby and wanted to live near light rail.

Thanks to the convenience of the Blue Line, about four years ago we started sharing just one car. My work often brings me to downtown St. Paul, so I’m able to take the A Line to Route 53 or the Green Line.

What do you enjoy most about your commute?

My favorite part of my commute is that every member of my team also rides transit. In fact, frequently, several of us will ride the same train trip home. This is a wonderful way to unwind from the workday and to connect on a range of topics, as co-workers and as friends.

Riding transit also provides a continuous reminder of the projects and improvements we help implement in the Bus Rapid Transit/Small Starts Project Office. As project managers, planners and engineers, firsthand experience gives us critical insight into how to remove delay, meet our customers’ travel needs, and help our operators deliver top-notch service.

How do you get around outside of your commute?

We live by a great commercial node on 34th Avenue in Minneapolis. This makes it easy for my family and I to walk or bike to locally-owned neighborhood stores and restaurants. My two kids (6, 8) have always enjoyed transit because they don’t need to be strapped into bulky car seats for a safe ride.

This year, we bought a 100 percent electric car. My wife drives it to work every day and we use it for errands. We still have our older car, but it’s now “retired.” Now, we use it for our family camping trips around Minnesota.

A Line BRT Bus Light Rail METRO Green Line

Dorothy’s last ride 

Posted by Kathy Graul | Tuesday, October 03, 2017 8:49:00 AM

William Carter III took his mother Dorothy on one final ride to celebrate her life and the independence public transportation afforded her.Dorothy Carter was fiercely independent. But she never had a driver’s license and never drove a car. For all 94 years of her life, she took public transportation.

“It was her way to stay independent. To do what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it and not be bound by anybody’s schedule or feel like she was imposing,” said Dorothy’s son, William Carter III.

On Thursday, Sept. 28, William took his mother Dorothy on one final ride to celebrate her life and the independence transit afforded her.

“I’m just riding all day. We’re taking a farewell tour,” said William as he boarded a westbound Green Line train at Snelling Avenue Station.

“It’s been quite a ride for her,” William said.

With a sign and an urn containing Dorothy’s remains in tow, William boarded several bus routes, the METRO Green Line and the A Line to visit some of his mother’s regular destinations throughout the day.

“Walgreen’s on Snelling. Rosedale Mall. Korte’s. We might stop by Plums for some French onion soup that she liked. I plan on stopping by her doctor’s office, too,” he said.

A resident of the Highland Park neighborhood, Dorothy knew the St. Paul bus routes like the back of her hand. Macy’s in downtown St. Paul was a favorite destination prior to its closing. But she would also take transit across town on occasion. She once took transit from St. Paul to Southdale in Edina to accompany a visually impaired friend (who also did not drive) for a doctor’s appointment.

As a longtime Twin Cities resident, Dorothy always intentionally chose to live near access to transit, and she witnessed firsthand the vast changes in public transportation from the streetcar days to the opening of the METRO Green Line.

In recent years, when Dorothy was no longer able to take transit on her own, she started using Metro Mobility to get to doctor’s appointments, lunches with friends and shopping, up until a few months before she died.

“She’d call and say ‘I took Metro Mobility to the doctor today. And we had the nicest driver and the nicest tour, and I met the nicest person on the bus.’” William said. “She was just very appreciative of everything that was going on.”

She instilled that appreciative attitude and her belief in the importance of transit in her son, an only child.

“She taught me how to sew. How to iron. And how to take the bus,” William said. By the time William was in the fourth grade, Dorothy would send him on the bus on his own to start learning the routes.

“So that’s why I’m doing it. To show appreciation for teaching me the independence of not only how to ride the bus but the importance of it,” William said. “It’s just one final tour to thank her for all the skills she taught me about riding the bus.”

Dorothy's last ride

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