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Bus Maintenance

Aspiring technicians ready for next step 

Posted by John Komarek | Wednesday, October 24, 2018 11:09:00 AM



A group of 17 aspiring technicians were celebrated last week as they prepared to take the next step toward full-time roles in Bus Maintenance.

The recognition was the latest benchmark for the Metro Transit Technician Training Program, which puts job seekers with little or no experience on a path to careers in bus or rail maintenance.

The program combines training, a full-time paid internship and support toward earning an associates degree. Several early participants are now working in full-time roles, while others are finishing their course work.

Participants who were recognized last week recently completed career and on-the-job training and are now beginning as full-time interns and students at Hennepin Technical College.

The event also celebrated Mechanic Technicians who are teaching participants about the job.

“Everyone here is a rock star,” said Aaron Koski, Senior Manager of Human Resources. “These interns have shown aptitude and grit. Thank you for your hard work.”

Participant Alexandria Balster said working alongside experienced technicians has made all the difference. “It was so overwhelming,” Balster said. “There’s so many components, processes, and pieces of equipment to not only learn but to troubleshoot.”

One of her sponsors, Mechanic Technician Carlos Garcia, encouraged Balster and is optimistic about her future. “I tell her to start simple because she’s not quite there,” he said. “But she will be.”

Learn more about the program at metrotransit.org/technician-program.

Awards

Maple Grove Transit named state’s System of the Year 

Posted by John Komarek | Monday, October 22, 2018 12:27:00 PM

Maple Grove Transit was recognized this week as a leader among Minnesota transit agencies.

The Minnesota Public Transit Association announced Maple Grove Transit as its “System of the Year” during its annual conference on Monday.

The award follows decades of continued growth for Maple Grove Transit, which is led by a group of commissioners and customers.

Twenty years ago, there were just seven buses in Maple Grove’s fleet, with service between a few suburban churches and downtown Minneapolis. Today, there are about 40 Maple Grove Transit buses based out of the Martin J. Ruter Garage.

Metro Transit has been a contracted provider for Maple Grove Transit’s express bus services for the past 30 years. Staff from Metro Transit’s fare collections, street operations and customer relations departments also support Maple Grove Transit.

In 2017, customers took 836,000 rides on Maple Grove’s express bus routes.

“Our growth has been tremendous,” Transit Administrator Mike Opatz said. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without the help of the community members in our transit commission, the city council, front-line employees and Metro Transit. We thank them all for their continued partnership.”

Among several recent innovations is a service that allows Maple Grove Transit customers who leave their vehicles at a park and ride to have it picked up for service during the day.

 

 

How We Roll

How We Roll: Karyssa Jackson 

Posted by John Komarek | Thursday, October 18, 2018 1:10:00 PM

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!

Karyssa Jackson, Community Outreach Coordinator

Why do you choose Metro Transit?

I don’t have a driver’s license. Never have. Growing up, I always lived in a highly transit accessible area so I never really saw the value in owning a car. And because I don’t have to pay for gas, upkeep or insurance, I save a lot of money. The cost and convenience of transit have helped me prioritize living within a couple blocks of a Metro Transit station.

How do you get to work?

Every day, I take the Green Line from the Raymond Avenue Station in Saint Paul to Target Field in Minneapolis. Then it’s just a short walk to Metro Transit’s Heywood Office. It’s an easy commute and one that gets me on my feet and moving, ready to take on the day as I head into the office.

What do you enjoy most about your commute?

I find that my commute acts like a daily meditation. Not having to drive gives me the time and freedom to de-stress by just listening to music in my headphones. This is especially important to me to help me mentally prepare for each day during my morning commute.

How do you get around outside of your commute?

I use public transit every day. I live right between downtown Saint Paul and Minneapolis so most things are just a one-seat ride away.

Bus From the GM

Focus on reliability and travel times brings big benefits 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, October 12, 2018 1:36:00 PM

 From General Manager Brian Lamb

When we ask transit riders what they want from us, we usually get a simple answer: They want us to show up on time and to get them to their destination as safely and quickly as possible.  

Bus-only shoulders, dedicated transit lanes and technology that allows buses to request green lights are just a few of the ways we’ve made our service faster and more reliable. But the reality is we still have work to do.

Nearly two-thirds of our customers ride on local bus routes that travel, on average, less than 14 miles per hour. One of our busiest routes, Route 21, has an average travel speed of less than 10 miles per hour.

We are continually making progress, however.

Our next step forward is on our Route 2 corridor, where around two-dozen of our least-used stops are being consolidated (these changes take effect on Saturday, Oct. 13). The hope is that by making fewer stops, buses will get to their final destination a few minutes sooner.

The changes come after getting input from customers and Route 2 operators and are part of a larger effort to improve service on one of our slowest local routes. Several new bus shelters have also been installed along the corridor.

We’re also excited to soon begin using Transit Signal Priority (TSP) on parts of the Route 5 corridor. With TSP, Route 5 buses will be able to request green lights at 30 key intersections, helping them move faster and more predictably.

These changes will bring noticeable improvements to two of our busiest routes. There’s more good news on the horizon, too. To cite just a few examples:

  > Later this month, hundreds of buses will begin using a transit-only ramp connecting downtown Minneapolis and southbound Interstate 35W. When construction is over in a few years, we’ll also enjoy dedicated transit and carpool lanes and a new station at Lake Street. Combined with more frequent service, transit will become an unrivaled option on one of the state’s busiest and most congested corridors.

  > Our region’s next rapid bus line, the C Line, will open next spring on the Route 19 corridor. Like the A Line, we expect C Line buses to be up to 25 percent faster than existing service by moving fare purchases off the bus, allowing all-door boarding and making fewer stops. As C Line construction enters the final stages, we continue to advance plans for rapid bus lines on busy corridors served by routes 5, 6 and 21.  

  > This summer, we began installing new fareboxes that are more efficient and reliable than the 25-year-old equipment they’re replacing. These machines are coupled with ongoing efforts to promote Go-To Cards and mobile fare payments, which now represent more than half of all fare payments.

  > On our light rail lines, we continue to work with local partners to get trains safely through intersections without having to wait for a green light.

These examples demonstrate a sincere commitment to addressing one of our customers' top concerns. Thank you for riding, and thank you for continuing to give us the opportunity to serve you better. 

Where did the name Metro Transit come from? 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, October 10, 2018 10:04:00 AM

 Transit has a 146-year history in the Twin Cities. But there have been several service providers over the years, creating a chain of identities leading to what we now know as Metro Transit.

For decades, the region’s largest transit company was Twin City Lines. As its business deteriorated, the state created the Metropolitan Transit Commission in 1967. Commonly known as MTC, this new organization purchased several private  bus companies and became the region’s primary transit provider.

The distinctive “T” that we still see today began appearing shortly after the MTC was created, perhaps inspired by a similar design used by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston. Around the same time, buses were painted a deep orange and operators began wearing dark green jackets and ties.

The next identity change came in 1994, when the MTC became a division of the Metropolitan Council. After the move, the Council briefly adopted the name Metropolitan Council Transit Operations, or MCTO.

Three years later, acknowledging the name had “not been embraced by customers, media, policy makers and employees,” the Council unanimously approved a new name – Metro Transit. Shortly after, a postcard to customers admitted MCTO was a “mouthful” and heralded Metro Transit as “Easy to promote. Easy to use.” Internally, the change was promoted as a “new name for a new beginning.”

Rick Schuster was part of a small group of marketing employees who helped come up with the new name.

While several ideas were proposed, Schuster said Metro Transit stood out as a clear favorite. “In a way, we were drawing on the history of MTC,” he said. “This was just a shortening of that, lopping off the commission, which isn’t very customer-focused, and shortening metropolitan to metro.” The logo was also a nod to transit’s past and future, with “Metro” appearing in a classic serif font and “Transit” appearing in a more modern typeface.

As part of the rebranding, blue, white and a more vivid shade of red became the colors of choice. For a time, teal was also appeared on buses, bus stop signs and uniforms.

More than 20 years after the renaming, Schuster said he thinks Metro Transit has withstood the test of time and will continue to do so.

“It wasn’t like we had this huge process where you hire a big ad agency, do focus groups and all this stuff,” he said. “It was just a small group of us talking about different ideas and thinking Metro Transit sounded pretty good. I think it’s been a great decision. Metro Transit is solid and timeless, and it’s probably never going to have to change.”

Transit has been a part of life in the Twin Cities since the first horse-drawn streetcars began moving through St. Paul in 1872. To illustrate the path transit has taken over the years, we’ll share a bit of history every month and trace its connection to our present-day system. If you have memories, photos or memorabilia to share, please e-mail history@metrotransit.org.  

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