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Transit Police

Metro Transit Police use teamwork and video surveillance to arrest vandalism suspect 

Posted by Kathy Graul | Monday, August 28, 2017 2:55:00 PM

Thanks to video surveillance footage and two alert Metro Transit Police officers, a 52-year-old man has been charged with breaking glass panels and stealing the heating element from the Blue Line’s Franklin Avenue Station.

Metro Transit Police officers Emmanuel Martinez-Cruz and Samuel Scheeler made the arrest on Wednesday, Aug. 23, after recognizing the suspect while patrolling in downtown Minneapolis. The officers had been shown images of the suspect from surveillance video earlier that morning.

"The officers were really on top of it," Deputy Chief Andrew Olson said. "They were paying attention to their surroundings. They did a great job."

General Manager Brian Lamb also applauded the Police Department's success.

"I really appreciate how quickly and effectively everyone worked together to investigate, address and repair," Lamb said. "It's a wonderful example of exemplary teamwork."

The suspect, who has been charged with third-degree burglary, was recorded on surveillance video using a brick to smash glass panels at the Franklin Avenue Station. In all, 25 panels were smashed and a heated enclosure for rail operators was damaged. The suspect also attempted to remove the enclosure's heating element.

Olson said this incident underscores the importance of Metro Transit's video surveillance as a crime-fighting tool.

"We have numerous cameras from several different angles across the entire system monitoring vehicle interiors, exteriors, and facilities," Olson said. "We want everybody to know the cameras are there. If you commit a crime, we'll likely have video of you doing it. We also know a lot of crime is prevented because people are aware the cameras are there."

Equity Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line

Technicians in training celebrate early milestone in career path 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Monday, August 21, 2017 3:28:00 PM

Participants in the Metro Transit Technician training program were recognized at a completion ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 17, in Minneapolis.Chapman Templer was working at a local bike shop, unsure when or if he’d ever get promoted or earn more money. After two years at Tires Plus, Chee Vang was struggling to pinpoint his long-term goals. Jordan “Monk” Nicholson was writing comic books and looking for a full-time job after recently moving from Ohio to the Twin Cities.

They and a dozen other job seekers who entered the Metro Transit Technician training program last fall now have a much better idea of what their futures could hold. 

The second group to enter the industry-first job training program was celebrated last week at the Blue Line’s Operations & Maintenance Facility, where participants had spent the past several months studying electrical theory and learning from the Electro Mechanic Technicians they aspire to someday work beside.

That experience was accompanied by tutoring and empowerment training with instructors at Twin Cities RISE!, a Minneapolis-based non-profit that helps individuals overcome barriers to employment. 

Last week’s ceremony came at an early crossroads for the participants: on Monday, they began full-time, paid Metro Transit internships and classes at Hennepin Technical College, which has developed a new degree program centered around Rail Maintenance.

While lots of hard work remains, supporters said the confidence and skills the participants had already built needed to be recognized.

“I know this is just the beginning, but today definitely deserves to be celebrated,” said Vang, who spoke in front of around 100 friends, family and Metro Transit staff gathered at the event. “What we’ve learned is to celebrate all of the small victories.”

This is the second group to enter the training program, developed by Metro Transit in partnership with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, Hennepin Technical College and Twin Cities RISE!

Participants from the first group are now entering their second year in college while interning in service garages and preparing to apply for full-time roles in Bus Maintenance. Applications for a third round of the program, again focused on Bus Maintenance, will be accepted later this year.

For participants like Vang, the goal is to land a career that promises stability, good benefits and opportunities to advance. For Metro Transit, the hope is to rejuvenate the ranks of technicians in bus and rail maintenance amid retirements and system growth.

Metro Transit will need to nearly double the number of technicians maintaining light-rail vehicles, signals, and systems to support planned extensions of the Green and Blue lines set to open in the years ahead. At the same time, around half of current technicians are above the age of 50 and beginning to approach retirement age. 

“We’re very excited now to be growing our own technicians,” Chief Operating Officer Vince Pellegrin said.

The program also supports Metro Transit's ongoing efforts to build diversity and provide access to opportunity.

Included in the most-recent group of participants was Ashley Williamson, who is on a path to becoming the first African American female to work in Rail Maintenance at Metro Transit.

“This is a major accomplishment to be able to inspire the next generation of people who are like me,” she said.

Electro Mechanic Technicians Resha Petit and Ben Engen said learning about participants’ histories is part of what made mentoring them so interesting and rewarding. They also appreciated the eagerness the participants showed throughout the 120 hours they spent working in the shop and studying with instructors.

“From day one, they came in here with a positive attitude,” Engen said. “It really made me look forward to coming to work on those days.”

Metro Transit light rail technician program

Participants in the Metro Transit Technician training program celebrated last week include, from left to right, front row: Calvin Hill, Allan Vang, Annette Kavanaugh, Chee Vang, Christopher Dudzinski, Thao Xiong, Toua Yang. Back row: Ronald “RJ” Abellard, Caitlin Wagner, Chapman Templer, Tenzin Kunga, Terence Ealy, Ashley Williamson, Jaime Trujillo, Jordan “Monk” Nicholson.

   > We're hiring! Learn more about career opportunities at Metro Transit

How We Roll

How We Roll: Shea Peeples 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, August 16, 2017 2:38:00 PM

Metro Transit Operator Shea Peeples at Heywood Garage. 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!

Shea Peeples, Part-Time Bus Operator, #77104

How do you get to work?

I live in south Minneapolis, specifically in the Midtown Phillips neighborhood, and I ride my bike to work at Heywood Garage. I have a combined road/mountain bike that I ride year-round, even in the rain and the snow. You just have to dress for it, with lots of layers and rain gear. 

Why do you choose to bike?

I used to drive to my previous job as a librarian, which I had for 15 years. On the last day of that job, my car died. I didn’t want to buy another car so I started riding my bike everywhere, including to work. Now I ride my bike up to four times a day. It’s a good way to experience the city and enjoy nature, plus you have the obvious exercise benefit. It’s invigorating to roll through the streets at 4:45 a.m. on my way to work!

Do you bike and use transit outside of commuting?

I have two baskets on my bike, so I sometimes ride my bike to get groceries. If it’s a big grocery shopping trip, I will borrow my housemate’s car. I also ride the bus and take the light rail. The routes I drive are the 250 south, the 673 and the 270F. The routes I take personally are the 21, the 5, the 14 and the Blue Line. Between driving and riding, I get to see a lot of the city. I also love public transportation because I can read, which I obviously don’t do on my bike.

State Fair

Know before you go: Minnesota State Fair 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, August 15, 2017 12:22:00 PM

Customers exit Metro Transit express buses at the Minnesota State Fair.Wherever you’re coming from, Metro Transit is the easiest way to get to and from the Minnesota State Fair. Even if you’re an experienced customer, though, there are a few things you should know before heading out for food, fun and farm animals this year.

There’s an app for that 

Customers who use Metro Transit’s new mobile app to purchase State Fair express bus tickets will receive a discount through the end of the State Fair. The best discount is four tickets for $15 – a $5 savings that can be put toward a bucket of Sweet Martha’s or other fair food. The free app can be downloaded through iTunes or Google Play. Round-trip fares – still $5 – can also be purchased for a discount in advance online through opening day or in cash at the time of boarding. As always, parking at Metro Transit’s Park & Ride sites is free!

Traffic? You betcha

The end of summer usually brings relief from road construction. That’s not quite the case this year. Construction on I-94 will affect all traffic coming through downtown Minneapolis from the west metro. To avoid the mess, express buses traveling to and from the I-394 & County Road 73 Park & Ride will travel through the north metro using roadways with bus-only shoulder lanes. Buses traveling to and from the Dunwoody Park & Ride may also be re-routed to avoid congestion. Due to construction in the East Metro, buses serving the Newport and Cottage Grove Park & Rides may also be diverted. Customers who know they want to arrive at a certain time should plan ahead and consider giving themselves extra time. Another date when roads might be a little busier than usual: Thursday, Aug. 31, when the Twins, Vikings, Gophers and Saints all play at home.

We’ve moved!

Due to construction, express buses will no longer be serving the National Sports Center in Blaine. Instead, customers can catch express buses from the 95th Avenue Park & Ride just a few miles east off Interstate 35W. The Park & Ride will remain open to commuters throughout the fair, but with 1,500 available parking spaces there will be room for everyone. One bonus of the new site: covered waiting areas that provide shade and shelter in the event of poor weather.

Stay informed

Metro Transit employees will be out in legion and happy to answer any questions you may have. Before leaving home, though, you may want to review schedule and location information and check Metro Transit’s Twitter feed for service updates (some Park & Rides do reach capacity). You can also find Metro Transit at the Eco Experience and the Grandstand – come say hello!

METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line

Preserving public art adorning transit stations 

Posted by Kathy Graul | Friday, July 28, 2017 10:05:00 AM

Conservators are hard at work repairing and cleaning the public art along Metro Transit’s rail lines and transit shelters. With more than 70 pieces of art, the agency owns one of the largest collections in the state.​Because it’s so dispersed – and in some cases cleverly disguised – it’s difficult to appreciate how pervasive public art is across the transit system.

But with more than 70 distinct pieces, Metro Transit is the caretaker of one of the largest collections of public art in the state.

Stations along the Green and Blue lines each have unique art that reflects their surroundings. Artwork can also be found on the Northstar Commuter Rail Line as well as several bus stops, like the flowerpot shelter in North Minneapolis.

“The program aims to inspire discovery in otherwise predictable spaces, improving the rider experience and making it more pleasant,” Public Art Administrator Mark Granlund said.

Like any other part of the transit system, art needs to be maintained as time, weather and humans take their collective toll.

Granlund joined Metro Transit last year to take stock of the needs, begin a campaign to make necessary repairs and plan for future maintenance. Before coming to Metro Transit, he performed similar work for the City of St. Paul’s Parks & Recreation Department.

Restoration is getting underway in earnest this year.

Among the first signs was the recent appearance of professional conservators at the Blue Line’s 50th Street/Minnehaha Park Station, where oak leaves, vines and animals are reflected in metal fencing, bronze carvings and screened glass. Conservators began by cleaning the metal and removing graffiti. 

“There is glass, bronze, and metal, and they all need reactive and proactive maintenance,” Granlund said.

Later this summer, 52 painted steel pieces that adorn a decorative steel fence at the Blue Line’s Cedar-Riverside Station will be disassembled, cleaned, repaineted and put back together. There are also plans to fix the small boxes that feature on-demand audio and video recordings, found at several Blue Line stations.

Facilities staff regularly clean stations and remove graffiti. But conservators have been brought in because they have expertise working with particular materials. The goal is to bring the art back as close to its original condition as possible while preserving the artist’s intent.

Because it’s just a few years old, artwork at Green Line stations is in relatively good shape and not yet in need of significant restoration. After learning lessons on the Blue Line, Green Line artwork was also designed to be more durable.

Getting the collection back in shape will be an exhaustive process, but Granlund said it’s well worth the time and energy.

“It’s definitely a major project, but in the end, taking care of the art is what we are entrusted with,” he said.

 > Blue Line Public Art

 > Green Line Public Art

 > Transit Usage Guidelines (including public art proposals)

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