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On Off The Clock

On the Clock/Off the Clock: TCC Supervisor Meredith Tvrdik 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, April 16, 2019 2:29:00 PM

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: Big Lake

Job: Transit Control Center Supervisor

Years of Service: 15

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

I began as a travel booth agent and trainer at the Transit Information Center (TIC). Six short years later, I was promoted to work in the Transit Control Center (TCC). At the TCC I help bus operators with any problems they experience. On any given day, I could be dispatching police, sending a technician for repairs, calling the shop if the bus breaks down or making sure trips are filled so we deliver trips on time to our riders. 

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

I was born in California but I grew up in the Iron Range. After graduating high school, I moved to the Twin Cities to pursue a degree in animation. That’s when I met my husband and started a family. I’m a proud parent of a 12-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son.

What is your favorite part about working for Metro Transit?

The people I work with. They make me laugh every day, even though the work can be challenging at times. Every day is different, so this job never gets old. 

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

I enjoy spending time with my family when we go camping and traveling, but I also enjoy "me-time" when I go for a run. While running is still new to me – I started running a little over 2 years ago – I recently completed the 2019 Los Angeles Marathon.

I ran to commemorate my father who died from a heart aneurysm when he was 37 years old, the age I am now. As a kid in California, I fondly remember going to Dodgers baseball games with my dad. It was meaningful to me that this marathon starts at Dodger stadium, a place we shared so many memories. 

This commemoration was even more special when another TCC supervisor, Belinda Hanson, surprised me the morning of the race. I knew she was coming to be a spectator but she surprised me with the news that she planned to run by my side and encourage me the whole 26.2 miles! Like I said, the people I work with are one of the many reasons I love my job! 

Want to share your story or suggest a co-worker for an On the Clock/Off the Clock profile? E-mail insights@metrotransit.org​​

Bus Minneapolis Rider Information

Buses moving from Hennepin to Nicollet during construction 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, April 11, 2019 12:14:00 PM

A Route 4 bus on Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.

There will be a lot more buses moving up and down Nicollet Mall soon. 

Beginning Monday, April 15, routes that normally serve Hennepin Avenue will be detoured to Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. The detours will remain in place for up to four years as the city rebuilds Hennepin Avenue between Washington Avenue and 12th Street. 

City plans call for protected bikeways in each direction and eight enhanced station areas with shelters, real-time signs, heat, light and security features, among other improvements. Utility work is scheduled to begin this spring. 

Metro Transit partnered with the city as it developed plans to make the corridor more transit and pedestrian friendly. The new shelter areas will be served by local bus routes and the E Line, a Bus Rapid Transit service that will substantially replace parts of Route 6.

Routes 4, 6, 12, 61 and 141 make nearly 500 trips down Hennepin Avenue each weekday. During the detour, there will be nearly 1,300 trips on Nicollet Mall each weekday.

Passengers board or get off the bus on Hennepin Avenue around 11,000 times each weekday. During the detour, passengers are expected to board or get off the bus along Nicollet Mall around 32,000 times each weekday. 

To speed up boardings, riders are encouraged to use Go-To Cards or to purchase fares in advance using Metro Transit's mobile app. Passengers should also exit out the rear door. 

Schedules will be adjusted in June. Up to five minutes may be added to routes that move from Hennepin Avenue to Nicollet Mall.​

Nicollet Mall was seen as the best detour route because the corridor has new waiting shelters, real time signs and is close to destinations and transfer points.   

The Hennepin Avenue detour is one of several service changes occurring due to construction in downtown Minneapolis. 

In March, routes 5, 9, 19, 22, 39 and 755 moved from 8th Street South to 6th Street South to allow for construction. 

Express routes that serve downtown Minneapolis also continue to be impacted by construction on the Interstate 35W corridor. Ramps between I-35W and 46th Street are scheduled to close this summer. Buses that would normally uses these ramps will get on and off I-35W at Diamond Lake Road. 

Stay informed

Need help planning a trip? Call the Transit Information Center at 612-373-3333

On Off The Clock

On the Clock/Off the Clock: Senior Planner Adam Smith 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, April 11, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Metro Transit Senior Planner Adam Smith at the Heywood Office Building in Minneapolis.

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

Senior Planner Adam Smith lives in south Minneapolis. He began working at Metro Transit in late 2018. 

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

After seven years as a planning consultant in California and the Twin Cities, I wanted to spend more time working on transit projects. I’d been a big fan of Metro Transit’s vision for Bus Rapid Transit and applied when I saw an opening to serve as a senior planner. 

I’m now serving as the planning lead for the B Line, a BRT line that will operate on Lake Street in Minneapolis and Marshall Avenue in St. Paul. I coordinate efforts within Metro Transit, work with other agencies and the public to move the project toward successful implementation.

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

I’m originally from Kenosha, Wis. I moved to Minnesota to attend Carleton College in 2003, which gave me a chance to get to know the Twin Cities and make friends here. I always thought of it as a place where I might end up long-term. 

After receiving a master’s degree in urban and regional planning at the University of Wisconsin, I spent four years working on environmental and water infrastructure issues as a planner in Sacramento, Calif., before I got tired of all the warm, sunny weather and relocated to the Twin Cities in 2015. Since then, I’ve been working primarily on transportation projects, though I’ve always been especially passionate about transit. 

What’s your favorite part about working for Metro Transit? 

Every day we strive to improve the quality of life for people in our region. That could mean figuring out how to reduce delays and shorten travel times or providing amenities that will attract new riders and make for a more positive transit experience. I really value the fact that what we do makes a difference in our communities. I also need to mention the incredible dedication and commitment of my co-workers throughout Metro Transit. It’s easy to come into work every day when you have such welcoming co-workers who really care about their work.

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

I love being able to sort through data, extract the most important information and communicate that information to a broader audience. In some cases, the main “takeaways” from our analyses are simple and maybe even obvious to many of our customers. However, when we have data that confirms what we, as transit riders, are experiencing, it helps reinforce many of the improvements that we’re trying to make.

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

Since moving back to Minnesota, my partner and I have been immersed in Minnesota soccer culture. We’re season ticket holders for Minnesota United, and we’re members of the Dark Clouds, one of the club’s supporter groups (i.e. the people who stand through the whole game, often yelling, chanting, waving flags, or singing out of tune). It’s been a great way to meet people in the area and we are particularly involved with the volunteering and community service arm of the Dark Clouds, which is, of course, called Silver Lining. We’re looking forward to riding Route 21 and the A Line to watch games at Allianz Field this season. 

Learn more about taking Metro Transit to Allianz Field

 

C Line

Electric Bus put through paces in METRO C Line corridor 

Posted by John Komarek | Thursday, April 04, 2019 4:05:00 PM

Buses – especially a brand-new technology like an electric bus – are not like consumer cars where you can buy it off the lot and drive away.

For any bus to work along any route, it needs to be tested, retested, and calibrated. Onboard buses, there’s a complex computer system that controls functions like doors, hydraulic systems, and a host of other items you won’t find in a car. And, these electric buses are no different.

“Every variable we test can have an impact on the entire system,” Matthew Dake, director of bus maintenance said. “That’s why we’re making sure to put this first-of-its kind system through its paces.”

Metro Transit engineers are testing all the systems that could impact range and operator usage to ensure that it’s ready for the opening day of the METRO C Line.

After configuration tests at New Flyer in St. Cloud, the first electric bus is in Minneapolis testing its weight tolerance and range. The bus is loaded with 12,000 pounds of sandbags to simulate passengers. This is more weight than a fully seated bus.

“We’re running with heavier loads to stress test the weight, but also see how that impacts range,” Michael Joyce, assistant director of bus maintenance said. “If we know extremes, we know it will operate better in normal conditions.”


12,000 pounds of sand simulate more than a full load of passengers. This stress test helps transit know the extreme limits of this vehicle.

Engineer David Haas is working to calibrate the electric bus to feel more like driving a diesel. It helps the operators transition to this new bus, but also helps operations understand and control the variables that can impact overall operations.

“Without any changes, the electric bus would feel different to an operator,” Haas said. “By attempting to match items like rate of acceleration, we aim to make the transition to electric easier for our operators.”

Another important test depletes the battery down to lower levels than will be normally expected in daily operations. This helps the team understand how to plan for low power situations and further understand range capabilities.

“Just like a diesel bus, everything from its hardware to the operator to the ambient conditions can impact how the bus performs.” Haas said. “It’s our job to understand the bus inside and out in so we can provide and support the best experience possible.”

During these tests, riders might catch a glimpse of an electric bus along the METRO C Line corridor. Starting on June 8, 2019, we’ll ask our riders to put our electric buses to the test.

Community Minneapolis Northstar

In Coon Rapids, hobbyists create scaled-down Northstar 

Posted by Laura Baenen | Wednesday, April 03, 2019 12:08:00 PM

Maria Dierks of Elk River and her grandchildren admire miniature Northstar commuter rail operations and maintenance facility in Big Lake, Minn.Customers who ride the Northstar Commuter Rail Line must look up to take in the nearly 300,000-pound, 16-foot tall locomotives that pull passenger cars between Minneapolis and Big Lake. 

But in the basement of a former Coon Rapids grocery store at 1929 Coon Rapids Blvd., the dimensions of Minnesota’s only commuter rail line aren’t nearly as daunting.

There, the North Metro Model Railroad Club has included miniaturized versions of Northstar’s Operations and Maintenance Facility, locomotives and passenger cars in a sprawling, 5,000-square-foot display of railroads from the Twin Cities to north central Minnesota.

As lifelike as it is, Maria Dierks of Elk River astutely observed a small disparity between the model and the reality it represents. Dierks, who attended a recent open house with her grandchildren, pointed to a Big Lake grain elevator that she said was out of place.

“That’s just where it fundamentally fit in our layout,” said Mitch Pierson, a Coon Rapids resident who built the Northstar model with Jeff Dombrowski of Maple Grove.

Pierson, Dombrowski and other members of the North Metro Model Railroad Club opened their private space to the public last month, responding to interest from a recent feature on WCCO. The club hosts public open houses occasionally throughout the year.

The misplaced grain elevator may not be noticed by most, but the model has other obvious distinctions from its real-life counterpart. The model omits Northstar’s stations and features 25 passenger cars, as opposed to the 18 that the real Northstar uses.

But model railroading is a hobby where there’s always more to do. Dombrowski said he’d like to add motorized doors and lighting to the 3-foot-by-2-foot maintenance facility. If a proposal to extend Northstar to St. Cloud comes to fruition, that too could be represented in the model.

The Northstar model was built in 2013, four years after the real-life service began. The club’s display also includes the Northtown Yard in Fridley and the Shoreham Yards Roundhouse in Minneapolis, among other freight railroad lines and facilities.

To cover expenses, the club’s 45 members pay up to $40 a month in dues. Members have access to the building and can control the trains through apps on their smartphones. Almost $80,000 has been invested in the display since work began in 2011.  

For more information, visit the North Metro Model Railroad Club’s website, nmmrc.org.

 

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