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A Line BRT C Line D Line E Line

Three future rapid bus projects move forward 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, July 26, 2018 12:57:00 PM

Bus shelter construction

Plans to bring the kind of fast, frequent service that has been so successful on the A Line to three additional corridors advanced within the past week. Here is a summary of the latest advances: 

C Line

Crews recently began assembling the first C Line shelters in downtown Minneapolis, including the above shelter at the corner of Fourth Avenue South and South Seventh Street, near Government Center. 

Around 20 new shelters with real time signs, on-demand heat, light and ticket vending machines are being built along the C Line corridor, which runs largely along Penn Avenue. The C Line will largely replace Route 19 service beginning next spring. The new shelters will remain out of service for several months while crews continue to install wiring and equipment. 

Learn more about the C Line

D Line

Plans to make Metro Transit’s busiest bus route up to 25 percent faster moved forward as the Metropolitan Council approved plans for 40 enhanced stations along an 18-mile corridor now served by Route 5.

Engineering will begin later this year and continue through the end of 2019. Construction is scheduled to begin as early as 2020, pending full funding. The D Line corridor is expected to see more than 23,500 average weekday rides by 2030. Route 5 is the region’s busiest bus route, with more than 15,000 average weekday rides. 

Learn more about the D Line

E Line 

The Minneapolis City Council last week approved plans for a stretch of Hennepin Avenue that position the corridor for future rapid bus service. 

Plans call for the construction of eight enhanced bus stops between Washington Avenue South and 12th Street. The city also plans to add one-way, protected bikeways in both directions, and to route the bike lanes behind the new stations to avoid conflicts at boarding areas. 

The new shelters will be served by routes 4, 6, 7, 12 and 61 and are designed to eventually become a part of the E Line, which will largely replace Route 6. 

The changes are part of a larger reconstruction of Hennepin Avenue. Utility work is expected to begin in 2019 and heavier construction is expected to begin in 2020. 

Learn more about the E Line

A previous study that identified a dozen rapid bus corridors will be re-valuated in 2019 to determine next steps for other future lines. Learn more at metrotransit.org/rapidbus

Accessibility Bus From the GM

Accessibility improvements ensure system works for everyone 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, July 26, 2018 12:38:00 PM

Collage of disabilities

From General Manager Brian Lamb

As an organization, we talk a lot about how important transit is to providing access to opportunity. That’s particularly true for people with disabilities who rely on transit to live a full and independent life. 

Because we want transit to be inclusive, we continually ask ourselves whether we’re doing enough to welcome everyone who wants to ride, regardless of their abilities. 

We have good reason to think about what we’ve done and what we’ve set out do this week, as the Americans with Disabilities Act reaches its 28th anniversary. There’s a lot to be proud of, too.  ​

Over the past year, we’ve installed level concrete pads at dozens of bus stops to make boarding easier for individuals who use mobility devices. As we’ve installed new and replacement shelters, we’ve also addressed curbs and other physical barriers that make it harder to get to and around these stops.

Bus operators going from part- to full-time recently began taking classes in which they use blindfolds and ear protection to experience what it’s like to board and ride the bus without being able to see or hear.

Go-To Card readers on all our rail stations and buses have been equipped with audio cues while keyboards on A Line ticket vending machines were designed to better serve individuals with visual impairment.

Our new Text for Safety service allows suspicious behavior to be reported through text message, something that is especially useful for people who are deaf, blind or hard of hearing.

And just last month, we made it simpler to get a Limited Mobility fare card by removing the requirement to get a special endorsement on a driver’s license or state ID.

Our fleet has also steadily become more accessible over the years, with level boarding at light rail stations, buses with roomier interiors on our rapid bus lines and a nearly-completed phase out of high-floor buses.

Our system will become even more accessible in the years ahead, too.

Responding to customer feedback, future light rail trains will have a more spacious seating arrangement that provides more room for mobility devices.

A new station at I-35W and Lake Street will replace a highway-level stop once accessible only by a steep set of stairs with a modern, two-level facility equipped with elevators.

Transit Information hopes to test tactile maps, high contrast signs and larger text at select sites to invite feedback and determine if such features should be applied more broadly.

Our accessibility improvements directly benefit the roughly 1 in 10 regular route customers who reported having a disability in the Council’s latest survey of regional travelers.

But they also make our system better and easier for anyone who rides with us, including children, the elderly and caretakers traveling with strollers.

We’ve made a lot of progress in the nearly three decades since the ADA became law, and look forward to making even more improvements in the years ahead.

Learn more about Metro Transit’s accessibility features

Community Shelters

Students ask how neighbors feel about nearby bus stops 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, July 26, 2018 12:05:00 PM

Sketch of a woman planting a bush at a bus stop sign

Metro Transit and community partners have spent a lot of time asking customers how they feel about their bus stop – questions that have led to investments in new shelters, light and other bus stop improvements.

Building on that work, students from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs set out to learn what nearby property owners, residents and workers felt about these locations. The student’s sought to answer three main questions:

  1. How do neighbors feel about nearby bus stops?
  2. What influences these feelings?
  3. How can neighbors become more engaged in creating better bus stops?

To answer these questions, in-person surveys were completed at nine bus stops with different demographics and physical attributes.

The survey found that, overall, bus stops are viewed as a valuable asset, improving walkability and access and potentially supporting local businesses. The survey also found that many community members had taken informal ownership of their nearby bus stop, shoveling snow and picking up litter, and were willing to partner with Metro Transit on future maintenance and improvement activities.

The findings led students to develop several recommendations and key objectives Metro Transit could focus on moving forward.

See the student’s recommendations and read their full report here.

Students who participated in the Capstone Project include: Joseph Ayers-Johnson, Kurt Howard, Casey Lauderdale, Joseph Polacek and Jake Schutt. Illustration courtesy Joseph Polacek.

Bus Light Rail

Rail lines on pace for another year of record ridership 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, July 19, 2018 3:14:00 PM

Passengers exit a Green Line train at Stadium Village Station in Minneapolis.Metro Transit’s rail lines are on pace to have another record year. 

Ridership on the Green Line, Blue Line and Northstar Commuter Rail Line is ahead of last year’s totals through the first half of 2018. All three rail lines saw record ridership in 2017

Northstar has seen the largest increase in ridership, which is up 5 percent through the end of June. Ridership on the Green Line is up 2.6 percent and ridership on the Blue Line is up 1 percent.

“Growing rail ridership is an indication that this region appreciates reliable, high frequency transit,” General Manager Brian Lamb said. “We’re thrilled to serve so many members of our community and look forward to building on this success moving forward.”

Systemwide, more than 39.6 million rides have been taken through the end of June. Total ridership is down 2.6 percent compared to the first half of last year. 

Gains in rail ridership have been offset by declining bus ridership, which is down 4.6 percent this year. The region’s first rapid bus line, the A Line, has seen a 5 percent increase in ridership compared to last year. 

Metro Transit is focused on building bus ridership by expanding service in areas with strong demand, improving customer facilities and focusing on speed and reliability. 

In June, limited stop Route 54 service was introduced to St. Paul’s East Side, providing customers a one-seat ride from Maplewood Mall to the Mall of America. Service has also been expanded on routes serving the Interstate 35W corridor, providing travelers a stress-free way of getting around during road construction. 

In August, Route 2 will become a faster, more reliable and attractive service with the elimination of nearly 30 stops with relatively few boardings and new waiting shelters in key locations. Route 2 will be further improved next year with signal technology that prioritizes buses at intersections. 

In 2019, the region’s second rapid bus line, the C Line, will bring enhanced stations, fully-electric buses and faster, more frequent service to a key corridor now served by Route 19. 

“We are doing everything we can to deliver the fast, frequent and reliable bus service our customers deserve,” Lamb said. “As the A Line has shown, quality bus service can and will succeed in our region.”

Metro Transit’s total annual ridership has grown in 10 of the past 13 years and is at its highest level in three decades.

 
Mode Total Rides Average Weekday
Ridership
Percent Change
Compared to 2017
Green Line 6,570,037 40,820 + 2.6%
Blue Line 5,261,735 31,571 + 1%
Northstar 393,052 2,824 + 5%
Bus 27,416,637 182,404 - 4.5%
Total 39,641,461 257,620 - 1.6%

 

Community Transit Information

Bus Buddies help refugees build confidence, join community through transit 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, June 20, 2018 3:36:00 PM

The International Institute of Minnesota.One of the first places refugees resettling in the Twin Cities can turn to for support is the International Institute of Minnesota, which offers classes and other resources to help them become self-sufficient.

But without a driver’s license or a strong sense of geography, getting to the institute’s St. Paul offices can be a challenge.

To help refugees find their way, the institute matches new arrivals with volunteers who visit their home and then ride with them to and from the institute on transit.

Lately, some of those guides, known as “Bus Buddies,” have had an especially strong aptitude for transit.

A partnership between the institute and Metro Transit led representatives from the Transit Information Center to begin serving as Bus Buddies earlier this year. After an initial pilot phase, representatives are now regularly working as Bus Buddies.

The first TIC representative who worked with refugees was Tariq Muwahid, whose father had to find his way in Minnesota after moving from the West Bank to the United States.

Over the course of a few months, Muwahid worked with refugees from Ukraine, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Pakistan, among other countries. Only one of the individuals spoke fluent English and none had any local transit experience.

“Hand signals, pictures, drawings, translator apps – you did whatever you could to communicate the point,” Muwahid said.

There was a lot to communicate, too.

All the refugees Muwahid worked with needed to transfer at least once during their trips to the institute, which is near the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

During their trips, Muwahid described where to transfer, how to read overhead signs, maps and schedules and how to buy fares. Refugees who provided feedback to the institute said the support allowed them to in turn help family members and figure out how to get other places on their own.

Seeing refugees experience transit not only helps the newcomer but allows staff to understand how information can effectively be conveyed to first-time riders, especially those facing language barriers.

Metro Transit recently developed an illustrated how to ride guide and Customer Advocates are building on past work with the institute by developing a
curriculum for volunteer Bus Buddies.

Natalie Moorhouse, the institute’s Refugee Corps Volunteer Coordinator, said teaching refugees how to get around on their own is a critical first step toward
independence.

“It makes quite a big difference,” she said. “It builds confidence and also helps them really feel like they’re a part of their new community.”

There’s a large need for such support, too. The institute serves nearly 4,000 people a year while Minnesota is home to 13 percent of the country’s
refugees – the largest per capita population in the U.S.

A refugee is someone who has fled their home country because of “a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.”

Muwahid didn’t ask or learn much about the circumstances that brought the refugees he worked with to Minnesota. But by the end of their trips, he said, it was evident that they were thankful and more at ease.

“These are some of the first interactions they have with anyone in the U.S., so you have a chance to make a big impression,” he said.

Learn more and get involved

Individuals who are interested in volunteering as a Bus Buddy should contact the International Institute of Minnesota. For more information visit iimn.org.

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