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Bicycle Community How We Roll Light Rail Rider Profile

How We Roll: Ed Alvarez, Facilities Technician 

Posted by jennasbennett | Tuesday, June 13, 2017 11:37:00 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!

Ed Alvarez, Facilities Technician

How do you get to work?

I live in Burnsville and do a mix of taking the Blue Line and riding my bike. Usually what I do is load my bike on my vehicle, drive to the 28th Avenue Park and Ride and get on the Blue Line with my bike. Depending on how much I feel like biking that day, I’ll take the light rail to either Fort Snelling or Minnehaha Park, get off and bike the rest of the way. From Fort Snelling, it’s nine miles to Transfer Road (Metro Transit's facilities team is based at this location, just north of University Avenue). Out of curiosity, one time I rode my bike from my house to Transfer Road and it took me two hours!

Why do you choose to bike?

Really, it’s for the exercise. I play hockey and biking keeps me in shape for that. It’s amazing how you can stay fit by biking just a few hours a week. I even bike in the rain and snow. I actually love riding in the rain! For rain, I wear protective gear, including booties that cover my shoes so they don’t get wet. For snow, I have a bike with studded tires and that helps eliminate my worry about hitting an ice patch. I have five bikes total – three mountain bikes, a road bike and a hybrid.

How long have you been biking?

I’ve been biking my whole life. I started biking to work in 1981 when I was at Ruter Garage and a lot younger. Then I got older, got married, had kids and stopped biking to work for a number of years and drove instead. Over the past three years, I’ve started biking again to stay in shape. I've been at Metro Transit for 37 years and I hope to keep biking to work as long as I’m able.

What do you enjoy most about your methods of commuting?

When I’m on the Blue Line, I like to use the time to listen to music. What I love about biking is that it is so relaxing and peaceful on the path. When I’m driving on I-35W it’s so crowded and stressful. When I get up in the morning for work and the alarm goes off, I look forward to starting my day with a bike ride.

Light Rail Safety

Light rail safety efforts receive national recognition 

| Monday, June 12, 2017 11:05:00 AM

Train operators Peter Mooers, left, and Bill Morris, right, took fourth place in the American Public Transit Association’s International Rail Rodeo held earlier this month in Baltimore, Md. Efforts to enhance safety at pedestrian crossings along Metro Transit’s light rail corridors have been recognized by the American Public Transit Association (APTA). 

APTA presented Metro Transit with a Gold Award for Safety for actions taken following a series of collisions that began in late-2015. Those efforts included a public safety campaign focused on grade crossing awareness, improved warning devices and the installation of alternate flashing headlights on light rail vehicles. The award was presented on Monday, June 12, at APTA’s 2017 Rail Conference in Baltimore, Md. 

This is the third Gold Award for Safety that Metro Transit has received since 2009. APTA presents one Gold Award annually, judging entries on effectiveness, innovation and project transferability. 

The number of light rail collisions per 100,000 vehicle miles has steadily declined since the Green Line opened in 2014. Through the end of April, there have been 0.51 collisions per 100,000 vehicle miles, down slightly from the same time last year. 

Two Metro Transit train operators also competed in APTA's International Rail Rodeo. Operators Peter Mooers, left, and Bill Morris, right, took fourth place in the skills competition, which tested operators' safety and customer service skills.

    > Awards and Recognition

    > Safety on METRO lines

In the News METRO Blue Line

Northern Spark brings virtual reality experience to Green Line 

Posted by jennasbennett | Friday, June 09, 2017 2:24:00 PM

With events spread throughout the Green Line corridor, light rail will play a major role in this year’s Northern Sparks arts festival.

That’s especially true for CHAOS ON THE GREEN LINE, one of 70 public art pieces that will be featured during the all-night festival that begins on Saturday, June 10, and continues through sunrise the following morning. 

CHAOS ON THE GREEN LINE invites participants to don a virtual reality cardboard viewer while riding between Snelling Avenue and Lexington Parkway. It is believed to be the world’s first virtual reality experience using public transit.

“As the train rolls by, the world as you know it will fall away from view and be replaced by a whole new world we’ve created – one affected by climate change,” said Todd Boss, executive and artistic director at Motionpoems.

Boss created the experience with help from dozens of animators and creatives from local agencies like Pixel Farm, Manufacture, Egg Creative and Fallon Worldwide.

The GPS-activated visuals reflect Northern Spark’s “Climate Chaos, People Rising” theme, which encourages people to a radically climate-altered world and actions they can take to reduce their environmental impact. 

Boss said the experience is more poetic than blunt, but that he hopes the impact will still be plenty powerful. “I don’t know that it will change people’s minds but I do think it will touch them and stir a lot of emotions and thoughts the way good art should,” he said.

Story circles, group weaving, a film festival and a night market in the Little Mekong cultural district are among the many other planned activities. Activities will be focused around several Green Line station areas, including the U.S. Bank Stadium, West Bank, East Bank, Snelling Avenue, Lexington Parkway, Western Avenue and Union Depot stations.

A light rail train that was wrapped in custom-designed artwork promoting the event will also be in service throughout the evening.

Eventgoers can ride free on all buses and trains during the event using a downloadable pass available on the event website. Green Line trains will run at least every 30 minutes throughout the evening. 

To learn more about Northern Spark or download a free ride pass, visit 2017.northernspark.org.

Bus

New buses bring new look both inside and out 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, May 30, 2017 1:35:00 PM

Metro Transit's newest buses replace three rows of front-facing seats on the passenger side with a single row of inward facing seats that customers can put in the up or down position.New 40-foot buses that recently began arriving feature a more open seating arrangement and several other improvements.

The Gillig-made, standard-diesel buses replace three rows of front-facing seats on the passenger side with a single row of inward facing seats that customers can put in the up or down position.

The change is intended to make riding a crowded bus more comfortable and to provide additional space for mobility devices, strollers or other large objects.

The buses also have an easier to use wheelchair securement system and frameless windows that are easier to maintain and better looking. These features were also included in the buses used on the A Line, a rapid bus service on Snelling Avenue.

Ten of the new buses will arrive this year. The buses will be sent to the East Metro, Heywood and Nicollet garages.

Metro Transit has around 900 buses in its fleet, the majority of which are 40-foot standard diesel buses. 

To provide feedback on the new buses, contact Customer Relations

Bus Community Light Rail

Tech program helps jobs seekers find new hope, career path 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, May 12, 2017 9:19:00 AM

Participants in the Metro Transit Technician program work on a pantograph at the Hiawatha Operations & Maintenance Facility.Some eager job seekers are getting an opportunity to pursue careers as Metro Transit technicians. 

The Metro Transit Technician program combines workforce readiness and on-the-job training, support toward earning a degree and an internship. Participants can enter the program with little to no experience but apply for full-time roles by the end of the two-year program. 

Participants pursuing careers in bus maintenance are currently enrolled at Hennepin Technical College while working as interns in several of Metro Transit's bus service garages. A second group of participants pursuing careers in rail vehicle and systems maintenance recently began their on-the-job training. 

WCCO recently caught up with a few of the participants working in the Hiawatha Operations & Maintenance Facility, where they were repairing a light-rail vehicle.  

    > Technician training program gets national recognition

The Metro Transit Technician program is not currently accepting new applications. Job seekers interested in learning more about career opportunities at Metro Transit should visit metrotransit.org/jobs

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