Messages from the Council Chair

Transit: Our commitment to excellence is paying off

August 2023

Chair Charlie ZelleIt’s been a really encouraging few months at Metro Transit — we averaged more than 135,000 weekday rides in June and, of course, some big event days on Pride Weekend and the Taylor Swift and Beyonce concerts. Ridership is up nearly 20% over last year.

Much of this improvement comes from investing in the people who operate our system and keep it safe and comfortable for riders. So far this year we’ve added nearly 300 new bus and train operators and we’re continuing to staff up for future growth in our service. Metro Transit offers competitive pay, excellent benefits, and will provide training to obtain the Commercial Driver’s License permit necessary to operate a transit vehicle.

More drivers give us the ability to offer more service. This year, we’ve increased service by almost 5%, which makes transit more convenient for our customers.

Another exciting increase in service is the addition of a fourth Park & Ride location with express service to and from the Minnesota State Fair. This year, we are bringing State Fair service back the 95th Avenue Park & Ride in Blaine. With this addition, we will be providing access in the north, east, south, and west metro.

Newly hired Metro Transit Police Chief Ernest Morales III is helping us implement many aspects of the Safety & Security Action Plan endorsed by the Metropolitan Council in June 2022. That includes recruiting and retaining police officers and community service officers, and hiring supplemental security officers who can address quality of life concerns that do not require police response. As always, we are deeply appreciative of the Metro Transit police officers who are proudly carrying the department into its 30th year.

Soon you will see a new uniformed presence on our transit system as we begin to deploy our Transit Rider Investment Program (TRIP) agents. TRIP agents will be the street-level face of customer service, helping riders get to their destinations. They will be a visible, in-person presence, and they will have the authority to issue administrative citations for fare noncompliance.

This layered approach to public safety is precisely what people have been asking for, and we are excited about the road ahead. We are committed to excellence because we owe it to the people who rely on our service every day.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight the choice of Lesley Kandaras as Metro Transit’s next General Manager. Lesley has been with the Met Council since 2012 and most recently served as Metro Transit’s chief of staff and interim general manager. She is a well-respected leader and a regular transit rider who has a deep understanding of how transit can improve the quality of life for people across our region. We are delighted to have her in the driver’s seat.