Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kenrick Avenue Park & Ride in Lakeville

Route 467 started new service at Kenrick Avenue Park & Ride in Lakeville, MN on Sept, 28,2009. Metro Transit are using 2009 MCI.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Express Buses on 35W Popular

Officials say new lanes, express buses on 35W popular
by Dan Olson, Minnesota Public Radio
September 28, 2009

St. Paul, Minn. — State officials say the new toll, or congestion pricing lane, available on 35W starting this week is popular.
Minnesota Department of Transportation commissioner Tom Sorel said people are enrolling for the chance to drive in the MnPass lane of southbound 35W from southern suburbs to downtown Minneapolis. Commuters pay anywhere from 25 cents to $8 a trip depending on traffic volume.
Drivers will be able to travel at 50 mph even at rush hours. MnPass customers will share the lane with car poolers and buses. Sorel said the growth of 35W MnPass customers reflects the popularity of the service where it was begun 4 years ago on I-394.
"As of today, we think we have about 1,400 new accounts to MnPass because of 35W and we're well over 14,000 accounts for the MnPass system," Sorel said. "So it's a great foundation on which to build upon."
The MnPass service is part of a large makeover of 35W which includes new express bus service and additional suburban park and ride capacity.
The express bus service from Lakeville to downtown Minneapolis started Monday morning with dozens of first-time passengers.
The new park and ride facility at Kenrick Avenue in Lakeville is still under construction. Even so, new Metro Transit coach buses started ferrying commuters from the facility.
Metropolitan Council chairman Peter Bell said the Lakeville service has buses joining car poolers in a faster lane on 35W.
"This 750-space facility is served by Metro Transit's new route 467, which began service this morning, and this morning we had 144 new customers to that service," Bell said.
A federal grant matched by state money totaling $188 million is paying part of the cost of the 35W makeover. Commuters can expect to see more results next year when the rebuilding of the Crosstown interchange is complete at a cost of $288 million.

Friday, September 25, 2009

'Odor Ordinance'

Transit 'Odor Ordinance' Proposed

The Honolulu City Council is trying to craft a code of conduct for people who use public transportation including The Bus and Oahu's planned railway. Among the proposals being considered is a provision that would prohibit people who smell bad or whose clothes smell bad. Councilman Rod Tam co-authored the bill with councilman Nestor Garcia. Tam told KGMB9 it is a matter of public health. "Many times when a person has a particular odor you may think that person is sick ... have bacteria, diseases. Especially now a days people are afraid of the flu," Tam said. "We have a responsibility in government to take care of clean and safe public services and facilities." Some of the bus riders KGMB9 talked to agree ... people should be kicked off public transportation if they reek. But others say it would be unfair ... especially to the poor and homeless. They suggest just moving away from someone if their odor is offensive. Tam's transit conduct bill would also prohibit people from spitting in transit vehicles or at transit stations. It would outlaw loud music and unruly raucous behavior. The council will accept testimony on the "odor ordinance" during a hearing at Honolulu Hale at 9 a.m. Thursday.

City Council scrubs body-odor proposal

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Light-rail train hits car

Light-rail train hits car near Star Tribune building

A light-rail train hit a car in downtown Minneapolis Sunday morning. The car's passengers were not injured.
By Chao Xiong, Star Tribune
Last update: September 20, 2009 - 12:26 PM

A light-rail train hit a car in downtown Minneapolis Sunday morning, but the car's driver and passenger were not injured.
The car's driver, Nate Becker of Sioux Falls, said he was coming down Fifth Street on the right side of the tracks and tried to make a left turn into the Armory . He did not realize there were train tracks and said he was unfamilair with the area.
Becker and a friend in the car were not injured. One train passenger was taken away to be checked for injuries.
The train hit the left, rear side of the car and the car was towed away.
Train passenger Neal George and his wife, Shirlayne, from Utah, said they did not feel like they had hit anything. "It just felt like he stopped fast."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Metro Transit 2009 MCI Bus #206

Metro Transit 2009 MCI Bus #206 doing the Route 860 at Northtown Mall

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Central Corridor LRT: The Time Is Now

Video on the Central Corridor by Metropolitan Council

Testing of Hiawatha LRT

Northstar Commuter Train At Downtown Station

Maple Grove Transit Gillig Phantom Bus # MG02

1999 Gillig Phantom Maple Grove Transit Bus # MG02 doing the Route 782 operated
Metro Transit at Zachary/96th Ave Park and Ride

Front Right Side View

Front Left Side View

Rear Right Side View

Rear Left Side View

Driver's Compartment

Interior view

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Burnsville Fire Muster

The family and I went to the Burnsville Fire Muster - Fire Truck Parade in Burnsville, Mn

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sign Up to be the First to Ride Northstar

Northstar Announces Opportunity For Public To Be Among First To Ride Rail

The Northstar Commuter Rail Project and Metro Transit have launched a Web page that allows members of the public to enter a drawing for free train rides during Northstar Commuter Rail grand opening events on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009.

Public events will be held at each Northstar station from Big Lake to downtown Minneapolis to mark Northstar’s grand opening. The events will include a program, transit information, family-friendly activities and a chance to ride Northstar trains from the suburban stations. More details about the events will be announced soon.
“Northstar supporters have anticipated the launch of commuter rail service for a long time and excitement for the state’s first commuter rail line is at an all-time high,” said Dan Erhart, chair of the Northstar Corridor Development Authority.
Through 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9, 2009, the public may enter a drawing for up to four tickets for Northstar’s grand opening rides by going to or by leaving a voice mail message at 612-349-7479. More than 350 tickets will be awarded at each station outside of downtown Minneapolis to those who register. A limited number of additional tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis on Nov. 14 at the suburban stations. Space on the grand opening trains is limited and tickets are required to ride.
Free train rides will be available at the Fridley, Coon Rapids-Riverdale, Anoka, Elk River and Big Lake stations. Trains will travel non-stop from each station directly to downtown Minneapolis, where riders will have an opportunity to see the Target Field Station and the connection to the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit Line. Northstar trains will return directly to their originating stations a short time later.
Ticket recipients will be chosen randomly during the week of Oct. 12 and notified by email or phone with instructions on how to claim tickets.
No grand opening train rides will be available in downtown Minneapolis. However, grand opening participants who visit the Target Field Station will have an opportunity to tour a Northstar train. Minneapolis visitors also will have an opportunity to get a free ride coupon good for travel on Northstar at a future date to be specified.
Regular revenue service on Northstar Commuter Rail trains, as well as connecting service from St. Cloud to the Northstar station in Big Lake via the Northstar Link Commuter Coach, will begin the following Monday.

Lawmakers Preview Northstar Rail

The train offers a more comfortable,
quieter ride

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

State Fair is in Trouble with ADA

Shuttle service not so fair for wheelchairs
It improved over the State Fair's run, but the switch to private buses forced some users to find other options.
JIM FOTI, Star Tribune
Last update: September 8, 2009 - 8:33 AM

With reclining seats and onboard televisions, the motor coaches used for some of the Minnesota State Fair's free shuttles were a big step up from the transit buses of the past.
But for some fairgoers, the steps at the front of the bus prevented them from boarding, raising concerns about whether the new, privately run shuttles were fair to the disabled.
The shuttle service available to wheelchair users at the beginning of this year's fair "was certainly questionable as to whether it was compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act," said Margot Imdieke Cross, accessibility specialist with the Minnesota State Council on Disability. On Friday, the fair increased the number of free-shuttle lots with wheelchair service from one to four -- still inadequate, she said, but better.
"We do hope that there will be vast improvement for next year," she said.
In previous years, the free park-and-ride service was jointly handled by Metro Transit and charters. In 2008, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) revised its rules to prohibit public transit agencies from doing work that private companies could provide, so Metro Transit's buses have been replaced by a charter fleet with varying levels of accessibility.
"Although FTA has no enforcement authority over private charter operators, we are concerned by reports of individuals in wheelchairs being denied equal access," Paul Griffo, senior public affairs officer for the agency, said Friday in an e-mail. Any evidence of violation of federal regulations should be shared with the Justice Department, he said.
Pickups and drop-offs
Although Metro Transit buses had the ability to pick up wheelchairs, the problem was "not knowing where you're dropped off," said Steve Grans, the fair's director of transportation. Some routes end on Midway Parkway, more than a block from the main gate, he said, and "it's a pretty good struggle to get through the parkway on the grass in a wheelchair."
That's why the fair originally set up a single wheelchair park-and-ride shuttle that brought people "within feet of the gate," Grans said. The added lots were chosen in part for their close-in drop-off points.
Lowell Miller of Minneapolis was accustomed to taking a free shuttle from the University of Minnesota park-and-ride near his home and said he never had trouble getting from the drop-off into the fair. This year, the charter bus couldn't accommodate his wheelchair, so he wound up taking a regular city bus route.
His monthly bus pass meant he didn't have to pay anything extra for the ride, but "it's the principle of the thing." The U of M was one of the three accessible sites added Friday.
Dick Caldwell of Arden Hills was among those who wished for better communication about the shuttles. He and his wife showed up at a park-and-ride lot in Roseville on the fair's first day and were unable to board. They then drove to the designated lot and had trouble finding a place to park their ramp-equipped van because so many people without wheelchairs were there.
"Once we got there, it worked, except for the transgressors," he said.
Disabled fairgoers weren't the only ones with complaints about this year's shuttles -- a surge in attendance overwhelmed many of the 33 free park-and-ride routes in the fair's first few days, leading to long waits. Grans said additional buses were brought in, leading to improved service and happier e-mails in his in-box.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pedestrian Hit By Hiawatha LRT

Pedestrian Hit By Light-Rail Train in Mpls.
Metro Transit Police and Minneapolis Police say a pedestrian was hit by a Light Rail train Sunday night on Hiawatha Avenue between 32nd and 33rd Streets East.
The call came in just after 10:30 p.m. Police say a man was on foot when he was hit by the train, but they are still trying to determine why it happened. Police say the man is alive and was talking before he was taken to the hospital. They also say it appears the man only suffered a leg injury.
Metro Transit says service was knocked out for an hour, but trains are running again. As normal procedure, Metro Transit say the train conductor will be tested for drugs and alcohol.
This is the third time someone has been hit by a light-rail train along Hiawatha Avenue in just over a month.
A man was killed after stepping out onto the tracks in front of a train near 26th and Hiawatha Avenue on Aug.13.
On Aug. 3, witnesses say Abdirahman Hirsi drove a car around a crossing arm and was struck by a train. He died at the hospital Aug.. 9.

Como Transit Station Part 2

Transit Police SUV

New Flyer Articulated buses lines up at Como Transit Station

Buses at gates

Metro Transit Gillig Hybrid Low Floor Bus # 7116 with State Fair wrap doing the Route 960

Metro Transit Gillig Hybrid Low Floor Bus # 7171 doing Dunwoody Park and Ride

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Como Transit Station

These pictures and video were taken on my cell phone on Sat. 9-5-09

Southwest and MVTA buses at Como Transit Station

More State Fair Bus Problems

State Fair Adds Handicapped-Accessible Parking Lots

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ride Metro Transit to the Fair

Express Service — Park Free
$5 round-trip for all customers
Cash Only - Please have exact fare. Children age four and under ride free.Buses operate 8 a.m. – midnight daily; departure times are approximate.Express buses serve fair gate #20 (on the south side of Como Ave. across from the Coliseum)All express service is wheelchair accessible.
Every Day Aug. 27-Sept. 7
Service every 15 minutes
1 Northtown Mall – BlaineUniversity Ave. & Hwy. 10
2 Brookdale Shopping Center – Brooklyn Center, Shingle Creek Pkwy. & Bass Lake Rd.
3 I-394 & Co. Rd. 73 Park & Ride – Minnetonka, SW corner of I-394 & Co. Rd. 73
4 Dunwoody College of Technology – Minneapolis, I-394 & Dunwoody Blvd.
5 Southdale Shopping Center – Edina, 69th and York Ave.
6 Bloomington – 82nd St. & 24th Ave. So. Across from Mall of America East parking ramp

Every Day Aug. 27-Sept. 7
Service every half hour
7 Oakdale Center Park & Ride – Oakdale West of I-694 on 10th St.
8 Signal Hills Shopping Center – West St. PaulSouth Robert St. & Butler Ave. (near Kmart)
9 Cottage Grove Park & Ride – Cottage GroveAlong Hwy. 61 on West Point Douglas Rd. between 80th St. and Jamaica Ave.

Service every half hour, weekends and Labor Day only
10 Maple Grove Transit Station – Maple GroveI-94 and Hemlock Lane
11 Foley Park & Ride - Coon RapidsOff Hwy. 610 near E. River Rd.

Regular Bus Routes
Convenient, economical service right in your neighborhood.
Pay your fare in cash or use a 31-Day Pass, Stored Value Card, Go-To Card, Metropass, Go-To College Pass or U-Pass.
Route 960 takes you from Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis to the fairgrounds in about 15 minutes. Whether you live or work downtown - this route is a perfect way to the fair!
Route 960 buses operate every 15 minutes between 8 a.m. and midnight.
Route 3 travels on Como Avenue between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul with service to fair gate #9.
Route 84 travels on Snelling Avenue between the Hiawatha Line’s 46th Street Station and Rosedale with service to fair gate #5.

Fair buses aren't rolling so smoothly

Fair buses aren't rolling so smoothly
For the first time, Metro Transit isn't the main shuttle service. That, plus large crowds, has created hassles.
By JIM FOTI, Star Tribune

Dressed in shorts and pushing strollers, Minnesotans who found themselves in long lines for free State Fair shuttle buses were unwitting bit players in a nationwide privatization debate that has affected events from college football games to the Indy 500.
Federal rules revised last year mean that, after 16 years, Metro Transit is no longer allowed to contract for charter work that private transportation companies are willing and able to do. Over the fair's first weekend, the transition left some people waiting an hour or more for even short rides to the fair and contributed to chaos at the bus lots on Como Avenue.
"There's quite a
curve this first year," Jim Canine, president of Lorenz Bus Service, said Wednesday from the fair. The fair's big jump in attendance -- for the first six days, it's more than 9 percent ahead of last year -- was a major factor in delays, he said, and buses from other companies continue to be added.
Lorenz, which bills itself as the largest charter company in the state, used to take care of about 40 percent of the shuttle rides, with Metro Transit handling the rest. Now the transit agency has said goodbye to a half-million riders, and the dozens of buses it normally contributes -- including high-capacity articulated buses -- aren't being used for the fair's free shuttle service, which operates from 33 close-in park and rides and is paid for by the fair. Metro Transit is continuing to operate some of the paid shuttles from farther-out lots, as those aren't considered charter routes.
The Federal Transit Administration says that the rules prevent "unfair competition" between public services and private companies, and that the agency "has received a great deal of positive feedback about the rules from both public and private operators."
"What I'm hearing from members across the country is that it's working very, very well," said Peter Pantuso, president of the American Bus Association, which represents 800 private operators. "All we wanted was a fair and level playing field," he said, noting that public transit agencies get subsidies for everything from fuel to wheelchair lifts.
He said events such as the Indy 500, the Kentucky Derby and Washington Redskins games had switched to private operators.
'A very long time'
"Positive" is not the word Amy Reilly of Minneapolis would use to describe her most recent experience with the fair shuttle. She arrived with her family at the Church of Corpus Christi in Roseville around 8:45 a.m. Monday. "People were just pouring into the park and ride lot, and there was no bus in sight for a very long time." Reilly, who has been going to the fair for a decade, waited almost an hour, and "we've never had a problem like that."
When a bus finally did come, she said, it quickly filled, leaving perhaps 150 people still waiting.
Others described ugly scenes and long waits at the bus lot where fairgoers catch buses back to the park-and-ride lots.
Canine acknowledged some early "pandemonium," particularly on Saturday, when threatening skies prompted huge numbers of fairgoers to try to head home at the same time. In Reilly's case, a driver called in sick at the last minute, and no backups were immediately available, he said.
For his part, Canine also preferred the public-private partnership.
"I wanted to see Metro Transit stay involved because of their tremendous capacity," Canine said. Not only does the agency have articulated buses that can hold 100 people, but it's also easier to have buses on standby. "A private company doesn't have those kind of resources."
"We hear that in town after town and city after city," said James LaRusch, general council for the American Public Transportation Association. Because the FTA controls billions of dollars in funding, he said the changes have "really kind of chilled public transportation agencies in their provision of services."
Metro Transit spokesman Bob Gibbons said his agency more or less broke even on its overall State Fair operations last year. The fair spends about $1.2 million a year to run the free shuttles, which provided about 876,000 rides last year, said Steve Granz, transportation manager for the fair.
U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, the Minnesota Democrat who's in charge of the House Transportation Committee, has been meeting with both public and private bus operators about the FTA rules, said his spokesman, John Schadl. He said that Oberstar's primary concern is that over-the-road coach buses aren't as well-suited to the task of serving as shuttles -- they have less capacity, use more energy, and are harder to maneuver than transit buses.
"In this case, you had two types of services that weren't really conflicting with each other or even competing with each other," Schadl said.
In June, 19 members of Congress wrote to Oberstar and U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., to ask that the infrastructure subcommittee address what the signers called the "ill-advised FTA rulemaking."
The State Fair shuttle fleet is a mix of motorcoaches and transit buses, and Canine says he'll have about 80 buses ready to handle Labor Day weekend crowds -- though it's possible that attendance may ebb after last weekend's crush.
"We could be all dressed up with no place to go," he said.
Jim Foti • 612-673-4491

Poll Results

What type of bus do you like?
High Floor 11 votes 35%

Low Floor 16 votes 51%

Don't Care 4 votes 12%

Mn. State Fair

I have more pictures from the Minnesota State Fair at the Como Transit Station.
(Note these were taken on my cell phone.)

Southwest and MVTA buses lines up in staging area.

Buses waiting at the gates

Route Changes Starting Sept. 12

These routes will change on Sept. 12

Beginning Saturday, Sept. 12, changes will be made to routes operated by Metro Transit, Minnesota Valley Transit Authority and Maple Grove Transit.
This list is an overview of the changes. If your route is listed, please pick up an updated schedule for details. Schedules are available below, on buses and trains, and at Metro Transit stores and outlets.
Beginning Sept. 12, if you know your route and just need departure times, call NexTrip at 612-341-4287.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mn. State Fair

NovaBus LFX (BRT artic)

Alexander Dennis Enviro 500 (double decker)

Metro Transit Police Van

Please note that these were taken on my cell phone camera. I have not yet figured out how to download the video.