Skip to main content For screen readers, our previous mobile pages might be more easily navigated while we continue to improve the accessibility of our website.

On Off The Clock

On the Clock/Off the Clock: Fleet Supervisor Tabin Hinck 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, June 05, 2019 5:08:00 AM

On the Clock/Off the Clock features provide an introduction to the people who spend their days working at Metro Transit and their free time involved in a variety of interesting hobbies. Read more On the Clock/Off the Clock features here

Lives: Brooklyn Center

Job: Fleet Service SupervisorLift/Brakes

Years of Service: 9

How did you come to work at Metro Transit and what do you do?

I was looking for something different and a place where I could develop professionally. I started as a Mechanic Technician and worked on the second shift at Heywood Garage. After that, I worked as a mechanic on the Northstar Commuter Rail Line, then came back to Heywood to be a garage supervisor. Today, I work in the fleet services where we find solutions to common performance issues.

Where are you from originally? Tell us a little bit about your background.

I was raised in Brooklyn Park then went to the North Dakota State College of Science where I got my associates degree in diesel technology. Since then, I’ve always been around big and small rigs. My first job was at a Peterbilt dealer, where I worked on medium- and heavy-duty trucks. I also worked as a car shop supervisor for Canadian National, a freight rail company out of Proctor, Minn.

What are your favorite activities when you’re working or “On the Clock”? 

I enjoy being handed problems, rolling up my sleeves and getting to work on a solution. The problems can be small and easily taken care or balloon into something big that involves talking with parts suppliers or vendors about manufacturing defects. We also review how we maintain the vehicles and our procedures.

It’s a nice atmosphere to work in. There a lot of people with different skills, so there’s always someone with a different perspective on how to tackle a problem.

What are your favorite activities when you’re not working or “Off the Clock”?

I like to work on my house, cross-country ski, play with my dog, and, most of all, sail. I’ve been sailing with my family since I was four years old. We sail a 1975 Ericson 35, which is a standard rigged sloop that can comfortably sleep five people. It will go about 7 miles per hour (6 knots) with favorable wind and has a small internal engine we can use when the wind isn’t blowing.

One of my favorite places to sail is the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior. If you haven’t been, I recommend paddling through the sea caves on Devil’s Island and taking a break to walk through the old light houses.

Sometimes we’ll also go out with a smaller crew for more than a week. When we take longer trips, we’ll go to Isle Royale or into the Canadian waters, where a lot of the islands have saunas. There is very little light pollution and we’ll do plenty of night sails with just the moon and stars lighting the way between the islands. The fresh air and tranquility is why I truly enjoy sailing.

How We Roll

How We Roll: Clayton Watercott 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, May 23, 2019 3:05:00 PM

Associate Planner Clayton Watercott boards the Northstar Commuter Rail Line at Target Field Station in Minneapolis.

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 illustrate how much we have in common with our customers when it comes to how we get around. See you out there!

Clayton Watercott, Associate Planner, Transit Oriented Development

How do you get to work?

I walk about a half-mile from my apartment to the Anoka Station, where I board the Northstar Commuter Rail Line. It’s normally about a half-hour ride to Target Field Station, then a short walk to the Heywood Office. I’ve tried driving before and, even with dry roads, it takes about twice the time it takes on the train.

What do you enjoy most about your commute?  

Taking the train gives me time to meet new people and chat with friends that also work in the downtown area and beyond. As someone who used to drive a lot for work, I appreciate the relaxed but consistent commute time. Regardless of the weather, the train provides a smoother, safer, and faster commute than driving ever could. 

In warmer weather, I also like to bring my bike along for part or all of the commute home. Bringing a bike on Northstar is convenient, and if the weather gets rough, I can always catch the next bus or train going north. Having those options makes the commute fun and changeable, never boring.

Why is it important to you to ride transit?

Transit is much better for the environment than driving alone. When I was a student at the University of Minnesota, I calculated and quantified the difference in energy usage between Northstar and a rather efficient compact car. Even if the train only runs half-full, it still beats the efficiency of a compact car by a huge margin. This makes transit one of the critical elements in combating climate change. Even in 2019, there is no more efficient mode of travel than steel wheels on steel rails.

Secondly, but equally important, I ride transit because it’s good for my physical and mental health. Rather than sequestering myself in a single occupancy vehicle in stressful traffic, I get a measure of peace from my walk to and from the train station each day. On the train, I can create relationships and have conversations that would never happen if I drove. In a world where hypertension is a leading cause of death, I think the connection between personal health and public transit use is under-appreciated. I feel fortunate to have accessible transit where I live and work.

Minneapolis On the METRO

Developers see future with more people, less parking 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, May 21, 2019 3:19:00 PM

From left to right: Dean Dovolis, founder, CEO and principal at Minneapolis-based DJR Architecture, Inc.; Robb Lubenow, co-founder of Minneapolis-based Yellow Tree Development; Jennifer Jordan, Senior Project Manager for the City of Brooklyn; and Jason Wittenberg, the Manager of Land Use, Design and Preservation for the City of Minneapolis. New residential and commercial buildings can increasingly come with little to no parking, developers and city officials said at a forum hosted by Metro Transit’s Transit Oriented Development Office.

“Part of the issue is does the public want it and this is very much what the public wants,” said Dean Dovolis, the founder, CEO and principal at Minneapolis-based DJR Architecture, Inc.  

Dovolis, above left, spoke at the forum alongside, left to right, Robb Lubenow, co-founder of Minneapolis-based Yellow Tree Development; Jennifer Jordan, Senior Project Manager for the City of Brooklyn Park; and Jason Wittenberg, the Manager of Land Use, Design and Preservation for the City of Minneapolis.

In Minneapolis, DJR is focusing on small lots where multi-story residences can be built with limited parking. On Fremont Avenue South, DJR built a 10-story apartment building with just two parking spaces.

Panelists said one of the biggest benefits to reducing parking in new developments is the ability to provide more affordable housing and commercial space. Each enclosed parking space can cost up to $30,000 to create.

The lack of parking isn’t a deterrent to young adults and others who value living in vibrant, walkable neighborhoods where personal vehicles aren’t a necessity. In lieu of parking, developers are expanding bike facilities and providing vehicles that can be shared by building residents.

“The only thing that’s getting larger is our bike storage and lounges,” said Lubenow, of Yellow Tree.

Yellow Tree focuses on urban development that caters largely to young renters who prefer to live alone. The firm is building a 65-unit apartment building that will include 32 parking spaces in Northeast Minneapolis, and another near Lake Street that will include 91 apartments and 61 parking spaces.

In the City of Minneapolis, changes to city zoning rules have allowed developments near high-frequency transit to move ahead with fewer parking spaced than had historically been required.

Now the city is grappling with new questions, like how to regulate on-street parking. That and other challenges could be addressed through the city’s Transportation Action Plan.

The shift toward less parking is mostly evident in urban areas where light rail or high frequency bus service is available. But suburban communities are also setting the stage for a shift to parking-light development.

In Brooklyn Park, recently updated zoning guidelines reduced parking requirements in areas where light rail stations are planned.

Learn more

Metro Transit’s Transit Oriented Development Office is a resource for developers and urban planners who want to pursue TOD in the Twin Cities. Learn more at

METRO Green Line

Green Line service changes protect investment, shift focus to better housing options 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, May 17, 2019 7:50:00 AM

From General Manager Wes Kooistra

When regularly scheduled service adjustments take effect in August, we will replace four METRO Green Line trips that run between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. on weekdays with buses. These buses will operate as frequently as Green Line trains do today and stop near each Green Line station.  

This change means that the Green Line will operate on a similar schedule as the Blue Line, with nightly breaks on weekdays and 24-hour service on Fridays and Saturdays. The new bus service will ensure that Green Line customers traveling to and from work and other destinations will still have service during these hours. 

We are making this change to allow for safer and more timely maintenance along the Green Line corridor. It will also provide more time to clean and maintain our light rail vehicles and stations.  

Under the current Green Line schedule, maintenance staff is often required to work while overhead power lines remain energized, which can complicate their work. Some maintenance activities are delayed until there are other reasons to suspend light rail service, such as road maintenance and construction. This is clearly not the best way to keep this important public asset in good repair. 

Nearly all light rail providers throughout the country have similar breaks in service to allow for maintenance. There are 22 U.S. transit agencies that operate light rail. In a review, we found that LA Metro, in Los Angeles, Calif., was the only other provider offering 24-hour light rail service on weekdays.​

We know many people ride the Green Line overnight because they do not have a home of their own. We have heard the concerns that people without access to housing or shelter will be displaced by this change. We, too, care about the well-being of our riders experiencing homelessness. We also have heard concerns that these trains, which lack running water, beds and bathroom facilities, do not constitute a humane or dignified shelter, and that using trains for overnight stays is not compatible with providing a transit service. 

In recent on-board surveys, staff found that, between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., there were fewer riders using the Green Line to go from one destination to another than expected. We also observed fewer riders than we expected using transit for overnight stays, although that number was still significant. Some people were simply using the Green Line as a gathering place. 

Allowing the Green Line to be used for overnight stays or as an overnight gathering place undercuts our ability to provide safe, clean and reliable service. It is also clear that transit is an unacceptable option for people who need affordable housing, shelter, or other support. 

While nearly everyone agrees that trains are not a safe and dignified place to sleep, we have heard concerns that appropriate shelter options will not be available. 

We share this concern and are working closely with the Interagency Council on Homelessness and other regional partners to advance meaningful responses to this issue. 

We are offering funding and other resources to better understand the needs of our riders experiencing homelessness, and to help people connect to the services and housing options that will meet their needs. Officers on the Metro Transit Police Department’s Homeless Action Team will continue building trust, providing immediate help and serving as a bridge to resources that can create lasting change. The Council has already dedicated nearly 90 federal housing vouchers to help address the needs of those using transit as a place to stay. 

While these efforts will continue, this work clearly requires partnerships and leadership from organizations and agencies whose primary role is to serve people who are without shelter. 

Through these changes, we will continue to honor our commitment to our riders and the communities we serve. We will better and more safely address maintenance requirements. And we will continue to work together with our partners so that everyone experiencing homelessness can find safe and affordable housing.   

On Off The Clock

On the Clock/Off the Clock: Mechanic Technician Dan Aasen 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, May 09, 2019 1:45:00 PM

Mechanic Technician Dan Aasen with a Metro Transit electric bus.

On the Clock/Off the Clock features provide an introduction to the people who spend their days working at Metro Transit and their free time involved in a variety of interesting hobbies. Read more On the Clock/Off the Clock features here

Lives: Rock Creek, Minn.

Job: Mechanic Technician, Heywood Garage

Years of Service: 25

Where are you from originally? Tell us a little bit about your background.

I grew up in Coon Rapids and attended North Hennepin Technical College to become a diesel mechanic. I worked for Medicine Lake Lines as a driver and mechanic for ten years. While I grew up in the north suburbs, I’ve always been a farm boy at heart. Since 1996, my wife, son and I have lived in Rock Creek, Minn. It’s a long commute (approximately an hour) but worth it to have a chunk of farmland.

How did you come to work at Metro Transit and what do you do?

Twenty-five years ago, a friend of mine mentioned a job opening for a skilled helper at Heywood Garage. I got that job and, six months later, moved into a mechanic position. You’ve been able to find me at Heywood Garage doing general repairs and maintenance on the hoist ever since. 

What is your favorite part about working for Metro Transit?

I work with great people who are dedicated to sharing their knowledge and cross training so we’re able to keep our buses ready for the street. And as a mechanic there’s no shortage of projects that make work more challenging and interesting. From diesel to hybrid, and now to electric, technology is always changing. Today, most of my days are spent on the electric bus team. It’s a welcome challenge to be a part of the team ensuring the electric bus fleet is prepared for the opening of the METRO C Line.

What are your favorite activities when you’re not working or are “Off the Clock”

I’m a mechanic on and off the clock. Except off the clock I work on vintage tractors, like my 1929 McCormick Deering tractor or 1951 Farmall. I find understanding these old machines interesting and so do a lot of other people. We get together at old time tractor and thresher shows in Almelund, Rock Creek and other places throughout Minnesota. It’s a great community of people who not only share their love of tractors but the stories around the machines. My son shares a love of vintage tractors, too. Between the two of us, we have eleven vintage tractors!  

Page 6 of 85 << < 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 30 60 80 > >>

Skip footer navigation