Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rail in the News

Vandals hit Anoka train station
Monday, 20 July 2009
by Mandy Moran Froemming
Union Editor

Vandals have struck three different times to do $10,000 in damage at Anoka’s Commuter Rail Station.The station, located at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Pierce Street, is nearing completion and will be one of several stops along the North Star Commuter Rail route. The train is expected to start offering the Big Lake to

Vandals have struck the Anoka Commuter Rail Station three times, causing $10,000 in damage. Photo by Mandy Moran Froemming
Minneapolis in November.Most of the damage at the Anoka station has come in the way of smashed windows at several of the station’s transit terminals.According to Capt. Scott Nolan of the Anoka Police Department vandals struck in three separate incidents on July 5, 13 and 14.The July 5 incident, which occurred during the night, was reported by a private citizen who noticed the damage, said Nolan. Vandals used a railway spike to break windows and a light fixture.Damages from July 13 and 14 were reported by the contractor building the station, Knutson Construction.On July 13, 11 windows were broken with a rock. On the night that followed, another window and door were smashed with a paving stone dug out of the ground, said Nolan.To date the police have made no arrests for the crime and anyone with information about the vandalism should call the Anoka Police Department at 763-576-2800Nolan did say police have increased patrols around the rail station since the vandalism was discovered.

Legislators push rail line from Willmar to Minneapolis
The promoters envision thousands of riders on a daily basis and popularity for commuters from Wright County.
BOB VON STERNBERG, Star Tribune s taff w riters
Last update: July 28, 2009 - 8:00 PM

Someday, passenger trains could carry commuters and travelers on a regular basis nearly 100 miles between Minneapolis and Willmar.
At least, that's the dream of several legislators who met Tuesday to kick-start their ambitious idea of creating passenger rail service between the two cities.
Known as the Little Crow Transit Way, the line is being touted as a way to reduce freeway congestion and help western and central Minnesota grow.
State Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, and state Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, hosted a public meeting Tuesday outside the old train depot near downtown Wayzata to promote the idea.
"I don't know where this will fit in the [state's] overall transportation plan, but it's a start," Bonoff said. "We're just into the initial lobbying phase."
Bonoff has repeatedly pushed to get state funding to study the rail line, which could use an existing freight line that parallels Interstate 394 and Hwy. 12.
Urdahl and Bonoff said they do not have precise cost estimates for the project, but they have been told by transportation experts that upgrading the rail system to handle high-speed trains would cost about $1 million a mile.
This year, Bonoff and Urdahl got the line included in the state's overall rail plan, which is being developed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
Praveena Pidaparthi of MnDOT said the department will be looking at all of the proposed rail projects in the state and ranking them for legislators to consider. The report will be done by December.
Wayzata and beyond
As envisioned by its advocates, the 13-mile line between downtown Minneapolis and Wayzata would be a commuter line, similar to the Northstar line that will soon start running between Minneapolis and Big Lake.
Urdahl said he and others would eventually like to see that line connect with Sioux Falls to complement proposed high-speed service between St. Paul and Chicago.
"Essentially, you would be connecting Sioux Falls and Chicago," Urdahl said.
Supporters of the Willmar-Minneapolis rail project say it would get a boost if the Northstar line proves successful, which they believe it will.
The remaining 83 miles to Willmar would be served by conventional passenger trains, Bonoff and Urdahl said. Passengers from points west could transfer from those trains to the commuter line leading into the Twin Cities at Wayzata.
Urdahl expects "thousands of people" would ultimately use the service on a daily basis if it became available. He points out, for example, that about 40 percent of the residents of Wright County commute to the Twin Cities area to work each day.
"I think ridership will be explosive out there," Bonoff said.
Urdahl and others said the Little Crow line would not only ease freeway traffic but also could boost economic development in western Minnesota by attracting more businesses and residents to the area.
Various other legislators with stakes in the project said they are optimistic that it will get funded because of the recent push locally and nationally to increase rail service.
"The political situation for rail has changed tremendously in the past two years," said state Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, who chairs the House Transportation and Transit Policy committee.
Heron Marquez Estrada • Bob von Sternberg •

Friday, July 24, 2009

State Fair Express Routes

Make your State Fair plans now

We love our State Fair and getting there is part of the fun with State Fair Bus Service. Make your plans now for an end-of-summer favorite.
From Thursday, Aug. 27, through Monday, Sept. 7, park for free at a State Fair Express parking lot and hop on a non-stop ride direct to the fairgrounds. Buses operate 8 a.m. to midnight.
Watch for more details in the August issue of Connect, available on buses and trains on Aug. 7.
Express bus fare is just $4 when you buy in advance
Buy your State Fair Express ticket before Aug. 26 and pay only $4 per person for a round-trip ride (kids four and under are free). Regular price is $5 per person. Order online at starting July 27. Allow a day or two for delivery.

Service every 15 minute:
Northtown Mall – BlaineUniversity Ave. & Hwy. 10
Brookdale Shopping Center – Brooklyn CenterShingle Creek Pkwy. & Bass Lake Rd.
I-394 & Co. Rd. 73 Park & Ride – Minnetonka SW corner of I-394 & Co. Rd. 73
Dunwoody School of Technology – MinneapolisI-394 & Dunwoody Blvd.
Southdale Shopping Center – EdinaNE corner of lot near 66th & York Ave.
Bloomington – 82nd St. & 24th Ave. So.Across from Mall of America East parking ramp

Service every half hour:
Oakdale Center Park & Ride – OakdaleWest of I-694 on 10th St.
Signal Hills Shopping Center – West St. PaulSouth Robert St. & Butler Ave. (near Kmart)
Cottage Grove Park & Ride – Cottage GroveAlong Hwy. 61 on West Point Douglas Rd. between 80th St. and Jamaica Ave.

Weekends and Labor Day only:
Maple Grove Transit Station – I-94 & Hemlock Lane
Foley Park & Ride – Coon RapidsOff Hwy. 610 near E. River Rd.New this year! More than 1,200 free parking spaces!

Security Camera Upgrade for Buses

Metro Transit bus system to get security camera upgrade
by Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio
July 23, 2009
St. Paul, Minn. — Dozens of buses around the metro area will be getting security camera upgrades in the coming months, according to Metro Transit officials.
Cameras on 167 buses will be retrofitted with digital, multi-camera systems on board. The new system also will be added to another 11 new buses, officials said.
Currently, all Metro Transit buses on have camera systems, according to Metro Transit Spokesman Bob Gibbons.
But some of that original equipment is old and "from a much more primitive technology," Gibbons said.
The older, VHS tape system will be replaced with a multi-camera, DVD system that will be able to record all the cameras simultaneously in color. Each bus has between 5 and 6 cameras on board, recording images and sound from multiple angles and in color.
Gibbons said the upgraded system will have storage space on board the buses -- rather than at a centralized location -- and will be able to record for 30 days. Under the older system, the images recorded over themselves every 8 or 9 hours, Gibbons said.
"It's sort of like having an officer on board every bus, but done much more affordably and on an around-the-clock basis," Gibbons said. "Drivers like to have the cameras on board. And customers -- the well-behaving customers --like to have the camera systems on board as well."
Gibbons said the camera systems for each bus cost $4,800.
Metro Transit began retrofitting its fleet in 2007, and 240 have already been installed.

Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro Transit Implementing Nextiva Solution from Verint Video Intelligence Solutions, Extending Its Security Investment

Verint® Systems Inc., a leading global provider of analytics software-based solutions for workforce-enterprise optimization and security, today announced that Metro Transit in Minneapolis/St. Paul is implementing the Nextiva® Transit video solution from Verint® Video Intelligence Solutions™. The organization extended its investment in the video security solution to further enhance passenger and operator security in its bus fleet.
Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro Transit is the principal transit provider for the Minneapolis-St. Paul region and among the largest transit systems in the U.S., providing approximately 268,000 rides each weekday on its light rail line and fleet of 893 buses.
When it originally outfitted 240 buses with Verint’s Nextiva Transit solution, Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro Transit replaced existing analog recorders as part of a fleet-wide security upgrade to help enhance passenger safety and deter crime. Continuing its fleet-wide modernization initiative, the transit operator is implementing Nextiva Transit on an additional 167 buses, along with 11 new buses. In total, its initial investment, coupled with this expansion, will see Verint video security technology deployed across more than 400 buses in the system, furthering Metro Transit’s focus on passenger and driver security by leveraging a reliable, scalable and flexible IP video platform.
“Nextiva Transit has allowed us to revolutionize the way we approach and manage security by providing high quality images from multiple camera views and increased storage capabilities,” explains Dave Indrehus, Chief of Metropolitan Transit Police. “Verint’s integrated solution provides high quality color images that help us identify, arrest and prosecute offenders.”
Nextiva Transit will enable more effective management of Metro Transit’s entire on-board video network through automatic system health monitoring, camera tampering detection and proactive problem notification.
“We are pleased to continue providing Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro Transit with world-class surveillance capabilities, enabling authorities to maintain the highest level of security and safety standards for the Twin Cities’ passengers and operators,” adds Elan Moriah, president, Verint Video Intelligence Solutions and Verint® Witness Actionable Solutions®. “As a leading provider of networked IP video solutions, Verint is committed to delivering the high reliability, performance and video quality required by transit organizations worldwide.”

Hiawatha LRT Will be Closed June 26-29

Portions of Hiawatha Line to be closed July 24-27

Route 55 buses will replace trains on portions of the Hiawatha Line from 11 p.m. on Friday, July 24, through 3:30 a.m. on Monday, July 27, due to construction.
The first interruption will take place between 46th Street Station and Mall of America Station. Train service is expected to resume between 46th Street Station and Humphrey Terminal Station at the start of service on Sunday, July 26.
Route 55 buses will continue to replace train service between Humphrey Terminal Station and Mall of America Station through 3:30 a.m. on Monday, July 27.
Buses will operate more frequently than trains, but bus trips will take longer than train rides. Customers, including those attending the Target Fireworks Show in downtown Minneapolis on July 25, should plan accordingly.
Metro Transit staff will be at key rail stations to direct customers to bus service. Signs will also give instructions on where to catch Route 55 buses.
To learn of any last-minute changes, call the rail maintenance hotline at 612-373-3333, option 6.
Get more details
here about Hiawatha Line construction projects.
Thank you for your patience.

Driver Assaulted

Metro Transit Bus Driver Maced By Passenger

Monday, July 20, 2009

Northstar Update

Metro Transit 2009 MCI Coach

Bus 204 entering East Metro Garage

Bus 204 on Mississippi Street at Pennsylvania Ave

Bus # 212, 210, 203 in East Metro Garage

Bus 212

Bus 210

Bus 203

Bus 200 in East Metro Mantance Area

Buses 202, 206, 205, 209, and two others numbrers unknown

Driver's Area

Interior shot

Passandger light

Engine interior

Message from the Council Chair

Metro Transit has a strong safety record

Two men are mugged at a light-rail transit stop on Father’s Day. A bus is involved in a collision with a bicyclist. A transit passenger is shot by gang members.
Not surprisingly, these kinds of incidents tend to make the news. However, they paint a misleading picture about how safe our transit system actually is and how hard our Metro Transit employees work to keep it that way.
Bus and rail operators have low accident rates
Let’s talk first about accidents, as recorded by the National Transit Data Base. In 2007, our light-rail line experienced 52 accidents per 10 million miles of service, compared with 149 accidents per 10 million miles for light-rail systems across the nation.
That same year, our bus system recorded 26 accidents per 10 million miles, compared with 66 accidents per 10 million miles for all bus systems across the nation. Moreover, we have seen a steady decline in the Metro Transit accident rate since 1999.
Each year, we recognize transit operators for their safe driving. Over the last five years, we have honored 106 operators who have gone 25 years or more without causing a single accident. During a 25-year period, the typical driver logs 750,000 miles. That’s the equivalent of 30 trips around the world!
This is especially impressive when you consider that our transit operators are continually challenged by traffic congestion, adverse weather conditions, roadway construction and risk-taking behavior by the traveling public.
Our strong safety record is the result of careful hiring, good rules and procedures, proper training, thorough accident investigations, appropriate corrective actions and regular recognition of outstanding operator performance.
Security measures result in reduced crime
Meanwhile, we have beefed up our Metro Transit Police force and stepped up our security efforts – both at problem transit stops and on board our buses. In 2008, uniformed officers rode buses an average of 1,519 hours a month, up from 270 hours a month in 2006.
We also are in the process of retrofitting our fleet with newer, multi-camera security systems. These systems have six cameras with high-quality lenses recording in color onto high-capacity digital video recorders. All of our new buses will come equipped with this technology, which greatly enhances our ability to identify, arrest and prosecute offenders.
Thanks to these efforts, we achieved a 24% reduction in crime between 2006 and 2008. We’ve also seen a reduction in operator assaults – from 34 in 2006 to 19 in 2008. And Metro Transit Police have aggressively pursued the offenders. We want the word on the street: If you commit a crime on our transit system, you will be apprehended.
We are strongly committed to preventing traffic accidents and combating crime. Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our transit customers and employees.
Peter Bell
July 2009

Central Corridor Project Update

Soil Boring to Affect Parking Along LRT Route
From late July through November, crews hired by the Met Council will take borings, generally in the parking lanes on the entire length of the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit route. They will be collecting soil and water samples so the sample may be analyzed for the presence of possible contamination. Drilling also will be done on some private property with owners’ written permission. The information will be used to develop plans to properly handle any contaminated soil and ground water affected by LRT construction, which will begin in late summer 2010.

Central Corridor FEIS Comment Deadline July 27
Public comment on the Central Corridor LRT Project's Final Environmental Impact Statement is due by July 27. The FEIS was published on June 26 in the Federal Register and describes the project as it is going to be constructed, giving the final picture so everyone knows what is going to be built and where. The FEIS describes the route and how it was chosen and provides the location of the tracks, stations and key pieces of supporting infrastructure. Copies of the FEIS are available at area libraries, along with a citizen's guide to the FEIS, which outlines how to make a comment. In late August, the Federal Transit Administration is to issue a Record of Decision, which summarizes adverse impacts and the project's commitment to mitigate them. The Central Corridor Project Office will complete all design in the first half of 2010 and secure the federal Full Funding Grant Agreement for the $914 million project to begin heavy construction in the latter half of 2010. For questions about the FEIS, email or call Kathryn O'Brien, environmental services manager for the Central Corridor LRT Project, at (651) 602-1927.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Holding the Green Light in St Cloud

System Helps St. Cloud Buses Stay In The Green
(Go To Link Above to watch News Story)
Last week WCCO-TV reported how some Metro Transit buses were running red lights in downtown Minneapolis. That resulted in increased training and supervision of drivers after 'CCO video captured bus after bus on tape driving through traffic lights. Since then 'CCO learned about a system used in St. Cloud which helps keep bus drivers from running reds and keeps them on schedule. "They're usually really good and they're dependable and they go where they say they are," said Metro Bus Rider Edith Coyle.To get where they're going safely and on time they rely on technology to give them an advantage at the traffic lights. "What we are asking the signal to do is to get a green light for us," said Metro Bus Director of Planning and Marketing Thomas Cruikshank. A detector mounted on most St. Cloud stop lights senses a signal from a device attached to the bus. It then holds the green light just a few seconds longer than usual. "If they can get a couple seconds here, a couple seconds there it sure helps a lot keeping the bus on time," said Metro Bus Transportation Supervisor Shawn Pierce. "So in an hour-long route, you might gain a minute or two of time," said Cruikshank. The transit signal priority system also triggers red lights to make them turn green little quicker. "We are running more on time than we were in the past, so it has helped immensely," said Pierce. So as not to distract or confuse other drivers, the system doesn't flash or beep. It improves safety as well. "It is actually a lot easier to not run a red or yellow light," said Pierce. Metro Bus managers have talked to Metro Transit about the system. They say the Twin Cites company is considering similar, more updated technology but there are concerns about how it would affect traffic flow in a large metro area.

Driving a 40' New Flyer

Friday we took out one of the Maple Grove New Flyer40' low floors out for training. I even had a chance to drive the bus. I have to admit it is a nice bus to drive. I enjoyed the smooth ride.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

MCI Update

Four MCI coach buses has arrived at East Metro Garage.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

Northstar Commuter Coach

Northstar Commuter Coach entering Elk River Park-N-Ride
(Future Norhtstar Commuter Rail Station)



  • 2009-179 2009 Unified Operating Budget Amendment (651-602-1374)
  • 2009-180 2009-2014 Capital Improvement Plan and 2009 Capital Program and Budget Amendment
  • 2009-220 Northstar /Twins Ballpark Operation and Maintenance Agreement (Consent List)
  • 2009-212 Authority to Execute Agreements with MVTA and Maple Grove
  • 2009-219 Authorization to Apply for JARC Funding for Van-GO!
  • Northstar Update

Northstar Update to Metropolitan Council

Northstar Commuter Rail Line Update - July 2009
Ed Byers, operations chief for the Northstar commuter rail line, provided an update on the line, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2009.
Byers showed photos of the locomotives and passenger cars that have been delivered, and said testing has begun on the 40-mile line that will operate on BNSF tracks between downtown Minneapolis and Big Lake. The Northstar line is part of the network of bus and rail “transitways” called for in the Metropolitan Council’s 2030 Transportation Policy Plan.
While watching the video, you may also view his slide presentation (pdf).

Northstar Update

Running Red Light 2

In Running Red Light WCCO reported that Metro Transit buses are running red light in downtown Minneapolis. Well apparently the drivers don't get it that the camera's are rolling. WCCO second report Metro Transit Buses Continue To Run Red Lights . The Union did get their two cents in this report.

Today I stopped at a green light for at least 3 to 4 second waiting for the light to change to yellow. I saw the flashing "DON'T WALK " light so I decided not to risk it. I wonder if that is a safety hazard. While I sat there, I heard passengers wondering why I did not going. I guess I can't win.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Metro Transit Bus # 492

Metro Transit Bus # 492, 1992 Gillig Low Floor at Gatway Transit Center
This bus is one of the first Gillig Lowfloors Metro Transit bought.

Running Red Lights

WCCO has a story on Metro Transit Buses Caught Running Red Lights in downtown Minneapolis.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Blue Bird Bus in Mankato, MN next to the Salvation Army

Mankato's City Bus

I took a trip to Mankato, Mn over 4th of July weekend and found this Flexible Bus outside the city bus garage. Bus # 838

Northstar - Anoka Station

Pictures of Northstar Commuter Rail - Anoka Station

Northstar - Elk River Station

Pictures of the Northstar Commuter Rail - Elk River Station

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Northstar Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek Look at the Northstar Train

Metro Transit Vans & Trucks

District Supervisor Dodge Carvan Van # 418 (New Paint Scheme)

District Supervisor Dodge Carvan Van # 357(old paint scheme)

Dodge Dakota Pickup Truck # 426(new color scheme)

Reduced Service on July 3 and 4

Schedule for July 4 holiday

Reduced service on Friday, July 3
Due to decreased customer demand, most Metro Transit routes will follow SATURDAY schedules on Friday, July 3. Saturday fares will be charged – there will be no rush-hour charges (except for some suburban providers).
The Metropolitan Transit Information Center will be open regular hours (6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.) on Friday, July 3. The Minneapolis and St. Paul transit stores will be open from 7:30 to 11 a.m. (the Mall of America store is temporarily closed). Customer Relations and Lost & Found will be open from 8 a.m. to noon.
All routes will follow SATURDAY schedules unless listed below. Some routes will operate trips in addition to the normal Saturday schedule. If your route does not have a Saturday schedule and is listed below, trips added are selected from the weekday schedule. If your route does not have a schedule for Saturday service and is not listed here, it will not operate on July 3.


Holiday service on Saturday, July 4
Metro Transit buses and trains will follow Sunday/Holiday schedules on Saturday, July 4. Metro Transit stores, Customer Relations and Lost & Found will be closed. The Metropolitan Transit Information Center will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m