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Riders Almanac - Metro Transit's Blog
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Taking time to say thanks on Transit Driver Appreciation Day 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, March 16, 2018 12:45:00 PM

Metro Transit’s 1,600 bus and train operators received extra kudos this week as supporters celebrated Transit Driver Appreciation Day.

Transit Driver Appreciation Day got its start in 2009, when a group of riders in Seattle, Wash., wanted to show support for their operators. It has historically been celebrated on March 18, the date the first known bus service is believed to have been offered, in 1662 in Paris, France (in the Twin Cities, auto owners began charging for rides as early as 1915, a business that soon gave rise to the area’s first bus services).

Today, Metro Transit is among many transit agencies that pause to recognize their operators for their service.

In addition to the messages of appreciation, The Current helped recognize Transit Driver Appreciation Day this year by devoting its morning Coffee Break to transit-themed songs. The playlist included The Hollies “Bus Stop” and The Replacements “Kiss Me On The Bus” (find more "essential transit tunes" on CityLab).

General Manager Brian Lamb, Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff, and several Council members also took time to personally thank operators. 

Thanks to everyone who helped us celebrate and remember, operators can be commended for their service any time. Let us know what you love about your operator by submitting a commendation online or by calling 612-373-3333.

Don’t know their name? We can identify the operator with their driver number, found on the uniform sleeve, vehicle number, and information about where and when you rode.

Learn more about some of Metro Transit's bus and train operators through our "Know Your Operator" series. Also, we’re hiring bus operators. Just saying.

Here’s a small sampling of shout-outs from social media:

Bus In the News Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line

Super Bowl festivities boost ridership 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, March 09, 2018 2:30:00 PM

Super Bowl festivities provided a notable ridership boost earlier this year.  

The Green and Blue lines and the Northstar Commuter Rail Line each saw their highest-ever January ridership totals and nearly 210,000 additional rides were taken over more than a week’s worth of Super Bowl events.

Super Bowl festivities began on Friday, Jan. 26 and continued through gameday, Sunday, Feb. 4. Ridership on those dates increased about 12 percent measured against comparable dates.

Ridership was boosted in part thanks to extra service that was offered to Super Bowl festivities. More than 17,500 rides were provided to and from downtown Minneapolis from area Park & Rides where special express bus trips were offered. 

Fares collected during the 10-day period offset the cost of the extra service that was provided.

In all, nearly 6.4 million rides were provided in January, including more than 1 million Green Line rides, nearly 823,000 Blue Line rides and close to 67,000 Northstar rides.

“Going into the Super Bowl, we felt like the months of preparation had us ready to show the world how a first-class transit system contributes to the success of this international spectacle,” said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb. “Looking back, we proved to hundreds of thousands of fans, visitors and everyday riders that our system and employees were more than a contribution. We were essential to the success of our region during all of Super Bowl 52’s events.”

> WCCO: Inside Metro Transit's unprecedented Super Bowl plan

A Line BRT

New displays allow A Line customers to plan trips as they ride 

Posted by Marisa Helms | Thursday, March 08, 2018 3:28:00 PM

New digital displays being installed on A Line buses will provide real-time information about upcoming stops, connecting routes and service alerts.

The displays are being installed so customers can make informed decisions as they ride. For example, if the displays indicate that the Green Line is delayed, a customer could continue to Grand Avenue and transfer to Route 63 to get to downtown St. Paul.

There are nearly a dozen routes that connect with the A Line, which travels on Snelling Avenue, Ford Parkway and 46th Street. 

“This saves the customer time and the inconvenience of an unexpected wait time for a connecting route,” Technology Systems Manager Gary Nyberg said.

Each bus will be equipped with two displays – one attached to the ceiling, just in front of the rear door, and another on the storage compartment behind the operator. The displays have a similar look and feel of the NexTrip feature on Metro Transit’s app and website.

Each of the A Line's 13 buses will be outfitted with the screens by the end of March.

Metro Transit hopes to learn more about how the system works and what kind of information customers most want. In the future, the displays could be used to show safety and emergency messages, information about upcoming events, or to advertise businesses along the route.

Provide feedback by contacting Customer Relations

Bus Shelters

Fulfilling our commitment to creating a better bus stop 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, February 27, 2018 9:23:00 AM

A bus shelter on Nicollet Mall includes heat, light and real-time signs.

From General Manager Brian Lamb 

A little over three years ago, we committed to providing customers a better experience at the bus stop. 

Since then, we’ve installed shelters at nearly 200 locations, primarily in Minneapolis and St. Paul, where they either didn’t exist or needed to be replaced. Light and on-demand heaters have been included at many of these sites.  

Some of the region’s busiest boarding locations have also been improved. A dozen shelters with heat, light and real-time signs were installed along Nicollet Mall last month and a rapid bus-style shelter was recently built at Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue. 

Concrete pads that improve accessibility were also put in at more than two-dozen sites last year in a continued effort to make it easier for everyone to get around bus stops. 

And more improvements are on the way. 

As many as 80 more shelters will be installed this year, more than half of which will be at sites where there currently isn’t any protection from the elements. These plans also include replacing aged shelters that had previously been privately-owned and maintained. 

Next month, construction will begin on the region’s second rapid bus line, the C Line, which will bring two-dozen stations with shelters, real-time signs, security features and ticket vending machines to a corridor now served by Route 19. Similar plans are being made for the Route 5 corridor. 

Later this year, customers will also see newly-designed shelter schedules that provide clearer information and real-time signs at some shelter sites. 

Perhaps just a significant as these improvements, though, is the accompanying effort that’s been made, in partnership with several community partners and customers, to think about future bus stop investments.   

Assuming customers with less frequent service had longer waits, we’d used guidelines that led shelters to be placed in some suburban locations where we served relatively few customers.

After receiving community feedback and reviewing wait time data we recently revised those guidelines. Under the new guidelines, shelters will be considered at any site where there are more than 30 boardings a day, with a priority on sites that have more than 100 daily boardings. 

The guidelines also place a higher priority on locations that serve people with disabilities, older adults and those who are less likely to own a vehicle. Transfer points and boarding locations near healthcare or social service centers will also get greater consideration.

The new criteria are a clear demonstration of how equity, defined as equal access to opportunity for all, is guiding our work. 

As always, we want to hear about your bus stop experience and what you think can be done to make it even better. Please contact Customer Relations to share your thoughts.

Learn more about bus stop improvements 

Better Bus Stops

Map: Review recent and planned bus stop improvements

Guidelines for placing and removing waiting shelters

Using community wisdom to design Better Bus Stops

Do bus stop amenities like shelters and benches make waiting for the bus more tolerable?  Research from the University of Minnesota's Center for Transportation Studies suggests that yes, they do. 


A son’s memories lead to Wall of Fame honors 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, February 09, 2018 10:16:00 AM

For Metro Transit Safety Specialist Tim Bowman, White Castle is more than a place to get a steamed, five-hole hamburger. 

The restaurant is such a prominent part of his life, in fact, that Bowman recently wrote to the restaurant asking if they’d consider including his father and him in their Wall of Fame, which for the past 17 years has recognized fervent fans like him known as “Cravers.”

This week, he traveled to Indianapolis, Ind., to accept the honors at a corporate get-together. In addition to an induction ceremony, he and other invited guests were treated to a private dining experience at a local White Castle. Bowman took the opportunity to step behind the counter to flip burgers, grill onions and fold boxes. 

The experience comes more than 50 years after Donald Bowman began taking his son to the White Castle on St. Paul's Rice Street, where they'd order from the front seat of the car. Later in life, they’d meet at the White Bear Avenue location before bowling on weekends or before heading off to work. After he got married, Bowman began taking his wife there for their white tablecloth service on Valentine’s Day. 

A 37-year employee in St. Paul’s street maintenance department, Donald Bowman also frequently met retired co-workers at the restaurant.  

When his dad entered a nursing home a few years ago, White Castle became the final stop when Tim Bowman and his dad ventured out to run errands. It was during those visits that Tim Bowman realized just how deep a connection his father had to the restaurant and those who worked there. 

“We’d go through the drive through, he’d be in the passenger seat, and there would be three or four employees hanging out the window because they hadn’t seen him in so long,” he said. 

When Donald succumbed to illness in 2016, more than 200 hamburgers and cheeseburgers were served at the funeral. Tim Bowman said this week's induction into the Wall of Fame is an even more enduring way of memorializing the bond that was developed between father, son and White Castle over the years. 

“When I think of the 57 years I had with my dad, and of the 53 that I can remember, White Castle is heavily included in them,” he said. “It’s a real honor for my father and I to be inductees in the White Castle Hall of Fame.”

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