Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Transit News

New bus service signals a good year for metro transit

This is an eventful year for transit in the Twin Cities. Northstar commuter rail rolls out in the northern suburbs in December. Also in December in the southern suburbs there's the predicted start up of the Cedar Avenue BRT or bus rapid transit service. Northstar commuter rail and Cedar avenue BRT will be the newest additions to the decades' long effort to create a Twin Cities transit system.

Hennepin County seeks consultant to help it thread a transit needle

For almost three years now, Hennepin County officials have been studying the idea of building an intermodal transit hub – a place where rail lines and bus routes converge – in the northwest corner of downtown.This week, they decided that the project, which is expected to cost $130 million or more – will require the services of a special transit consultant.“We’re going to be threading the needle, but I think we can do it,” said Joe Gladke, Hennepin County’s manager of engineering and transportation planning. He added that the transit hub is “probably the most complicated thing that’s been undertaken (by the county) in a long time.”The problem, in a nutshell, is that the northwest corner of downtown will soon become a very crowded place.

Platform Extention

Rail platform extension project begins

The Hiawatha Line has been popular with commuters – in fact, for the first time the line surpassed 10 million rides in 2008. In the future, we plan to operate three-car trains to help keep up with demand.
That’s why construction crews are extending platforms to accommodate three-car trains at 10 stations along the Hiawatha Line.
During construction, the Park & Ride lot nearest the rail platform at 28th Avenue Station is temporarily closed. That lot is being used as a staging area for construction equipment. Please use the parking ramp at this station or the lot northeast of the rail platform.
Customers should expect to see restricted access to ends of platforms as construction crews complete their work. There will be some weekend closures of stations to accommodate heavier construction. Look for Rider Alerts at stations prior to these closures.
Also note that crews will be upgrading signal equipment to improve the reverse operation of trains through crossings. Construction is expected to last until March 2010

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ride free to the Living Green Expo

Ride free to the Living Green Expo

Take Metro Transit to Living Green Expo, set for May 2 and 3 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Monday, April 27, 2009

CTA bus in St Paul, MN

Turning onto White Bear Ave

New Flyer Hybrid Articulated CTA bus on Burns Ave at Ruth Street in St Paul, MN.

Transit News

The public will get a chance this week to sound off about plans to restore passenger rail service between the Twin Ports and the Twin Cities.

Transit faces cuts
Transit programs would receive less money under a House-passed bill, part of an effort to balance the state budget.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Orion 1

I drove one of the last Orion I that Waukesha Metro had before they were retired. I aways said that I would not want to get my arm caught in the door. I would think it would take it off, way the door would slam shut. It was a good bus to drive but you had to take the turns wide. It did not have A/C, so I did not like to drive them on hot days.

Too bad they did not have more shots of the bus.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Federal Stimulus Money Targeted for New Buses

Metro Transit plans to use some of the federal stimulus funding available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to purchase 90 replacement buses.

On Monday , the agency will ask the Transportation Committee to approve a request to existing contract with New Flyer of America to purchase 29 articulated buses.

The Met Council awarded a contract with New Flyer in December of 2006 for 10 articulated buses; that contract included an option to buy up to 55 additional articulated buses.

The other replacement buses - 31 40-foot buses and 30 hybrid buses - are part of a package with Gillig that was approved by the Council in 2007.

Whose Line is it Anyway - Greatest hits - Bus driver

Whose Line is it Anyway - Greatest hits - Bus driver

This is so funny.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rochester City Lines

One of the things I found interesting about the buses is that they have music playing inside the bus. I could imagine that it could get irritating. Also they do not have electronic fareboxes. There is just a drop farebox and manual counter.

Central Corridor parking solutions

Update on Central Corridor parking solutions

At an April 2009 meeting of the Central Corridor Management Committee, engineers Dan Soler of the Central Corridor Project Office and Craig Blakely of the City of St. Paul discussed the findings of a study of issues raised by the loss of on-street parking along University Avenue.
As a result of mandatory and desired elements of the light-rail project, all but about 175 of 1,150 on-street spaces will be lost on University Avenue between Rice and Emerald Streets in St. Paul. The engineers said there are 560 spaces on north-south cross streets within a block of the University and another 25,000 spaces in private lots within a quarter mile of the corridor. However, they said there are a number of critical areas where parking problems will need to be addressed, and they discussed possible solutions.

Shoulder Driving for Buses

I can tell you that it is fun driving on the shoulder. You sure have to be on the ball.

New technology is being developed at the University of Minnesota to help bus drivers navigate a narrow shoulder. The enhanced transit options planned for the corridor along Cedar Avenue between the Mall of America and Lakeville include some of the more innovative aspects of the project. Among them is the lane-guidance system for buses. This project was a cornerstone element that made Minnesota’s project package attractive to federal funders, according to Craig Lamothe, manager of UPA transit projects for the Council. The guidance system is a safety feature for individual transit operators to navigate the narrow shoulders along Cedar Avenue. The MVTA, working with the University of Minnesota, will equip 10 buses with the technology that will help drivers stay in the center of the shoulders, particularly when the weather affects visibility, such as when it’s dark or raining.
Currently, it is up to each operator to determine whether he or she is comfortable using the shoulder. Lamothe said some passengers have expressed frustration when drivers don’t use the shoulders, and this project will provide an opportunity to enhance the confidence of each operator and show value to commuters who choose to use transit.
Federal officials are watching the project closely.
“This is the first demonstration,” said Lamothe. “We’re anxious to see if it works in this fleet, and the rest of the country.” Lamothe noted that this technology could be especially useful in older cities implementing bus-only shoulders, where lane space is limited and lanes are generally narrower than those in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Link is HERE

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bank Robber used loot to ride the bus

Man admits using loot from Uptown bank heist for bus fare during getaway

A 42-year-old Minneapolis man has admitted in federal court to robbing a TCF Bank in the Uptown area of Minneapolis and using some of the stolen loot to pay for bus fare as part of his foiled getaway.

A witness told police that she saw the robber running west on Lake from the front of the bank, and a short time later, she saw the suspect riding a Metro Transit bus heading east on Lake.
Officers stopped the bus along Hennepin Avenue, found Kelly and arrested him. A search of Kelly's bag turned up $3,740 in cash. The remaining $20 had been used for bus fare.