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Riders Almanac - Metro Transit's Blog
How We Roll

How We Roll: Karyssa Jackson 

Posted by johnkomarek | 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.  

Know Your Operator

Know Your Operator: Julie Trosen  

Posted by johnkomarek | Monday, October 08, 2018 2:05:00 PM

For twelve years, Julie Trosen drove school buses, but then she upgraded her career at Metro Transit. And, if you ask her, she’s never looking back. She found the pay and the benefits second-to-none.

“I plan to be here until I retire,” Trosen said. “Even on the toughest days, I love my job.”

Which is good news for Metro Transit and its riders. In under a year, she not only went from part-time to full-time employment, but she’s received multiple commendations on multiple different routes for her positive interaction with riders, who compliment her on her communication.

“When a rider boards with a negative mood, it can change the energy on the bus. I aim to keep my bus positive by greeting people the minute they step on,” Trosen said. “The little things like saying hello and asking how people are doing go a long way.”

This is important to Trosen who gets her energy from people. After six years of working with children on special education buses, which can include kids with behavioral problems, she’s learned a thing or two about keeping a situation positive.

“You just have to listen. Not just hear but listen to what your rider is telling you.” Trosen said. “There’s a lot of negativity in the world, so it’s just about how you respond to it.”

She specifically recalls a situation where what she did helped create a positive mood onboard. Recently, she noticed a rider carrying a cake. Trosen asked her what it was for, and she responded that she was throwing a birthday party for herself because her kids forgot it. Trosen immediately said “Happy Birthday, I hope you have a great one.”  Every rider who walked by her followed suit and wished her a happy birthday.

“I wish I could have done more,” Trosen said. “But, just wishing her a happy birthday and having the rest of the bus respond must have made her day.”

After being at the wheel just under a year, the praise keeps coming in about Trosen. But, she wants to keep the focus on more than just herself.

“I’m not the only great bus driver out there!”

Operator at a Glance: Julie Trosen

Hired: January 2017
Routes: 5, 14, 61, 643, 663. If you ask her, she loves every Route she drives.
Garage: Heywood
Family: Husband and a seven-year-old boy. "My husband is my rock."
Lives: Blaine

Hobbies: Reading and watching crime novels and TV shows. NCIS is her favorite show. She loves reading Lee Childs and Nora Roberts.

Accomplishment: Julie has received commendations and compliments for her communication with passengers on express Route 672, local Route 19, and State Fair routes.

Best Advice: Say “hi,” “bye,” and “have a good night” no matter who they are or how you’re feeling that day. And, always remember to take things in stride.

Learn more about becoming a bus operator at Metro Transit

Bus Fares Light Rail Minneapolis Northstar

Metropass program reaches the 20-year mark 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, October 04, 2018 9:16:00 AM

Commuters exit a Metro Transit bus in downtown Minneapolis. Providing discounted, unlimited ride transit passes through area employers was a novel idea when the Metropass program began in 1998.

But twenty years after its inception, the program is attracting an increasing number of companies eager to encourage transit among their workforce.

Employees who work for participating employers can pay for a Metropass pre-tax through a payroll deduction. On average, companies kick in about a third of the $83 monthly cost.

When Metropass got its start, Minneapolis-based Ameriprise Financial and TKDA, a St. Paul engineering firm, were among the first to join. Nearly twenty years later, both companies continue to offer Metropass to their employees.

But they have a lot more company now. Around 37,000 employees from more than 360 employers now participate in the program. In 2017, Metropass holders took more than 12.8 million rides.

In October 1998, the first month the program was offered, Metropass customers took just over 90,000 rides.

Among those who ride with a Metropass is Janice Knight, an academic advisor at Capella University. Knight began using transit more than a decade ago to avoid costly parking in downtown Minneapolis. But there have been other perks to taking the bus. 

“If I didn’t ride transit, I wouldn’t have met neighbors who also ride the bus,” Knight said. “In fact, several of us get together to celebrate birthdays, happy hour and holidays.”

Metro Transit works with Transportation Management Organizations (TMOs) like Move Minneapolis to identify employers who want to offer Metropass.

Of the 30 companies added last year, 21 were in downtown Minneapolis, including Select Comfort Corporation, Kraus Anderson and law firm, Jones Day.

Move Minneapolis also worked with Thrivent Financial, a Metropass member since 2005, to significantly increase the company’s participation last year. Thrivent is building a new headquarters downtown, losing some parking spaces in the process. 

In St. Paul, the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, Minnesota Science Museum and St. Paul Hotel are among the recent employers to join the Metropass program.

The program appeals to some suburban employers, too. More than 300 employees working at Amazon’s Shakoppe distribution center are using a Metropass.

"Metropass is great for any metro-area employer," Revenue Operations Supervisor Lisa Anderson said. “There are so many benefits, like reducing the carbon footprint and handling the growth we're expecting to see."  

John Penland, Assistant City Attorney for the City of Saint Paul, is another longtime rider who appreciates riding with a Metropass. Penland regularly takes the bus between Mitchell-Hamline and downtown St. Paul.

“After a while, you meet the same people and it becomes a community where you can catch up with colleagues or friends during your trip,” he said.

  > Learn more about the Metropass program

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