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The Adopted Advantage: Better Bus Stops Featuring You!

You may have noticed bus stops in the Twin Cities with signs naming someone who adopted them. That’s right, Metro Transit now has an Adopt-a-stop program! They recently hosted an appreciation brunch, so we went and chatted with other adopters about how they’re liking the program.

Links

Attributions

Special thanks to Jeremiah Cox, the All Star behind Adopt-A-Stop at Metro Transit, General Manager Lesley Kandaras, every adopter that we chatted with for this episode and every future adopter that is listening right now.

Our theme song is Tanz den Dobberstein, and our interstitial song is Puck’s Blues. Both tracks used by permission of their creator, Erik Brandt. Find out more about his band The Urban Hillbilly Quartet on their website.

This episode was produced by Stina Neel, edited and transcribed by Parker Seaman aka Strongthany, and hosted by Ian R Buck. We’re always looking to feature new voices on the show, so if you have ideas for future episodes, drop us a line at podcast@streets.mn.

Transcript

Note: this computer-generated transcript will be updated once a human has had time to revise it.

Ian: Welcome to the Streets.mn Podcast, the show where we highlight how transportation and land use can make our communities better places. Coming to you from beautiful Seward, Minneapolis, Minnesota. I am your host, Ian R Buck. Keeping our communities clean and friendly is a big task, bigger than any one individual can handle. To encourage more people to help make a dent, many public entities will let you adopt parts of our public spaces. You can adopt a highway. I remember my elementary school adopting a drain. You can do litter containers here in Minneapolis, like all kinds of things, but until recently, bus stops were left out. Metro transit recently started an adopt a stop program, and the community has embraced it in a big way. Our producer, Stina Neel, is really excited to bring you a story all about it. So, Stina, take it away.

Stina: All right.

Ian: Hi, Ian. Hey, Stina, I.

Stina: Have a question for you.

Ian: Uh huh?

Stina: What is your relationship to riding the bus? How old were you when you first stood at a bus stop and rode a municipal bus?

Ian: Um, I have a very distinct memory of, uh, an ECFE trip that’s early childhood and family education. Uh, so pre preschool. Right. Um, we did, we had, like, a field trip down to the Children’s Museum in downtown Saint Paul. And my mom and I, like I wanted to stay later than everybody else. So my mom was like, okay, we’ll stick around at the at the museum. Everybody else is going to go home in the vans or whatever we arrived in and we got to take. The bus home. And that was a really exciting like we were standing at this stop in downtown and mom was telling me like, what bus number we were looking for. And I got like, every time that a bus came around the corner, I was like looking at each one of them and trying to figure out, like, is that one our bus? No. Not yet. It’s. Yeah.

Stina: Ah, but you’re like, you’re like this tall too. You’re like teeny tiny.

Ian: I was an adorable little child.

Stina: I would say I did not ride an official city bus until I was in college. So much, much later in life. Surprised? There are not a lot of buses in rural areas, uh, especially bus stops. But like, I rode a trolley in New Orleans, and then I wrote a tourist bus in Las Vegas. But when I was in Fort Collins, Colorado, I fell in love with public transportation because I was a carefree student. And in Colorado, it snows a lot.

Ian: Oh, yeah.

Stina: So the bus was my favorite thing ever for a good, um, four and a half months out of the year. But I want to talk about Metro Transit here, and I’m going to run some numbers by you because Metro Transit is huge. They have an enormous scope through both Twin Cities and a little bit beyond. And so I’m going to give you some numbers from their end of the year report from December 2023. Would you like to guess how many bus stops there are?

Ian: It’s in the hundreds, I’m going to say somewhere in the six hundreds.

Stina: Ian. There are nearly 12,000.

Ian: Oh, geez.

Stina: Bus stops within the Twin Cities. Areas that are bus stops that Metro Transit officially serves.

Ian: Yeah, yeah yeah, yeah. So I was off by two orders of magnitude.

Stina: If you had to guess how many staff members are responsible for keeping all of those clean, what would you guess?

Ian: That’s well less than 100.

Stina: 54. There are 54 public facility staff members, and they’re not just doing those 12,000 bus stops, okay? They are cleaning the 812 bus shelters. So that’s a bus stop with some sort of shelter over it. There’s 86 BRT bus rapid transit stations. Currently there are 54 light rail stations.

Ian: I saw some of those facilities folks this morning on my commute.

Stina: Yeah, and there are 44 park and rides throughout the metro area and 24 transit centers. Those are typically where we see people, um, going from Metro Transit to another service, and those are throughout the Metro.

Stina: There’s over 900 miles of service area that is 900 miles of roads that buses go down.

Ian: Okay.

Stina: Um hum. Huge area. So Metro Transit originally did this program back in 2010 where you can adopt a bus stop and you can name it, and your you are responsible or your organization is responsible for kind of keeping an eye on it for one, noticing if there’s any infrastructure damage, like something happened and then part of the sign is falling apart or the bench has disappeared. Yeah, or a lot of rubbish has appeared. And so offering these folks the tools to be able to keep their bus stop clean and also like just having some eyes on the street.

Ian: It had a different name back then. Right. I think it was, it was adopt a shelter like it was, it was specifically only stops that had shelters that were available. Right? Yes.

Stina: So back then the program started with 13 stops and there were eight adopters. That’s it. And a lot of this information is I have to shout out our friend Jeremiah Cox, who works at Metro Transit. His official title is still Project Management intern, but he’s been there for many years.

Stina: He’s just an all star. We’ll hear from him in a little bit, I think. Yeah. But then so after a few years, the program kind of fizzled out. Right. And then in 2019, when Jeremiah started with Metro Transit, I don’t know if they did some rebranding or if some exciting perks got added, but this thing has blown up.

Ian: Yeah, or maybe just like the community is ready for it now. Like, I don’t know.

Stina: Yeah, we were also home a lot in 2020 on. I don’t know if you knew that.

Stina: So I wonder if, like, getting more involved in your community in a time when we really relied on each other. Maybe that was something that really helped this kind of, um, jump out. I’m going to talk about a little bit more about the program. So, Ian, it’s not just bus stops, right? You have bus stops, bus stations, bus shelters. Do you want to know how they become that?

Ian: Uh, yeah. How? I mean, because it’s everything from just like, oh, the grass on the side of a of a curb all the way up to, like, heaters and real time bus information and all kinds of stuff.

Ian: Correct.

Stina: So there is an entire shelter guidelines document, and Metro Transit considers adding shelters. So you are talking about a bus stop is often just a sign, um, doesn’t have to have benches, doesn’t need to have shelters. Any of that.

Ian: Doesn’t even have to have concrete.

Stina: So locations with an average daily boarding of 30 or more people, uh, that’s a good chance of getting a bus shelter, locations that serve people with disabilities, housing for older adults. If there’s hospitals, health care clinics or social service providers nearby. Mhm. Um, stops that are major transfer points. That’s a pretty easy one for them to do. Neighborhoods with higher numbers of households without a car. This is the same data that we talked about in our Nice Ride episode. Same data set is where that is all pulled from. Um.

Ian: So that must be like run by the state.

Stina: That’s sometimes state census data.

Ian: Ah, yes.

Stina: Some locations that may meet the criteria for a shelter may not have the space to fit a shelter. So you may see stops that you’re like so many people use this. Why is there not a shelter? It could be that there just isn’t enough space for the Tetris blocks to go there. So then it’s a shelter. Metro transit may add lighting or heating to a shelter if it meets the criteria, and electricity is available or easily added. Lighting and heating are not standard features in shelters due to the high costs of installing and maintaining them.

Ian: Um, it does seem to be a standard feature for BRT stations though.

Stina: Yes.

Stina: Yeah, so lights are considered when there are higher boardings during evening or overnight hours, especially when there are documented personal security concerns. Mhm. Um. Heaters are considered if there are more than 100 average daily boardings. That’s why you see them mostly at the LRT stations. Right. But you also see them at those high frequency bus stations, um, uh, or bus. So you see them at transit centers because. There is a lot of people that are going to be hanging out there in between when their bus drops them off and when the next one picks them up. So if you are wondering if your local stop or shelter is getting some sort of upgrades, you can check out the Better Bus Stops link on Metro Transit website. There’s an interactive map that shows stops that are getting lighting soon, ones that they are getting replacements if they’re adding a concrete boarding pad, if they’re getting heat, and so much more. And it also gives an estimated timeline when those changes will take place. Usually that’s quarterly. So you’ll see a lot of them where they say spring of 2024 or summer 2024, if they’re getting some more, uh, highly technical upgrades like adding heat or electricity.

Ian: And we’ll definitely put a link to that in the show notes.

Stina: Some other fun facts. So there is a 40 page, 40 pages document that is just the design guidelines for a bus stop sign.

Ian: Oh, I love a good design guideline.

Stina: It’s amazing. Um, they also have like an example one, and you could absolutely print it out and have that be a coloring page. So if you have young people at home or you just need something to do, I highly recommend checking out that document.

Ian: Metro transit free merch idea right there.

Stina: The regular route bus stop design guide that’s 72 pages long. That’s for the stop itself. So you have 40 pages for just the sign, 72 pages for the stop itself.

Ian: Um, and like like the spacings of things and how close they can be to each other, etc., etc..

Stina: So I think like that’s something I want listeners to know, is that so much thought and planning goes into each and every single one of those 12,000 stops within Metro Transit’s, you know, agency wide area of service. So if you are listening and you are ready to adopt a stop, I want you to take a listen to Jeremiah right now, who’s going to tell you all about the process? And it is so easy, I swear. Um, so what is your name and what do you do at Metro Transit?

Jeremiah: I’m Jeremiah Cox. I am actually technically an intern at Metro Transit, but I’ve been functioning as a program coordinator for Adopt a stop for internal volunteering for, um, various other customer facing things. And yeah, Adopt a stop has been the the thing that I started on day one and have continued ever since.

Stina: So can you talk about what the event is that we are at today?

Jeremiah: Yeah, this is the Adopt a Stop appreciation celebration event. Um, I don’t know if we ever finalized a title for it, but that that title works. Um, so we invited all of our adopters, and about maybe 30% or 35% RSVP’d, and some people didn’t show. So I don’t know exactly how many people are here, but a lot of people came and we’re celebrating all the accomplishments that we’ve, uh, created through the growth of this program. We have 262 adopters right now with 133 people adopting or 262 stops adopted. Excuse me. Um, and this has grown tremendously since it was relaunched as a program in 2019.

Jeremiah: So about 20 years ago we had this program. Uh, it was coming off and on for ten years with one person managing it, and it just never got the attention it really needed. Um, so it didn’t expand at all. Like, I think we had, like, 20 adopters at the peak. Uh, when it was adopt a shelter, that’s what it used to be called, and it was only confined to bus shelters at that point, you couldn’t adopt unsheltered stops, you couldn’t adopt BRT, you couldn’t adopt light rails, and now you can adopt anything. So it was relaunched in 2019 as part of the Safety and Security Action Plan. And this is a way to boost our community engagement and improve the cleanliness of our system. And that’s what it’s doing. And it’s working really well. Uh, we get lots of positive community feedback and stops are cleaned. We get issues reported more quickly at our adopted stops. And yeah.

Stina: Do we have anyone like, are there any people who still adopt their stop their station now that. Yes from the original.

Jeremiah: We have one. Oh. Mike and Benita Warnes. Um this is they adopt and have on their sign. Mr. Michael recycles bicycles.

Stina: Oh, yeah. We know.

Jeremiah: Him. Yeah. He’s great. Yeah. And they they’ve been caretaking this stop for 30 some years. Um, but only part of our adopt a Shelter program, I think since 2011. Um, and then we kind of grandfathered them in to adopt a stop.

Stina: Yeah. Um, where where do you want to see the program grow?

Jeremiah: Great question. Um, hard for me to say exactly, but I want to just keep getting more adopters and keep cleaning our system. Um, the more adopters we have, the more issues we can have reported quickly, and the better the cleanliness gets and the better the writer experience gets. So it’s kind of like a more is better trajectory, and we just want to keep getting more.

Stina: Those are all the questions I have. Okay. Anything else?

Jeremiah: Um, if you want to adopt a stop go to Metro Transit. Org slash adopt a stop. Check out the info there. See the map at the bottom if there’s a stop available near you, and fill out the form that’s linked.

Stina: And they all go to you.

Jeremiah: Yep. They do. Yep. Okay.

Stina: Thank you so much.

Ian: So my experience of signing up was actually kind of funny because I when I filled out the form originally and sent it in, I got a personal email from Jeremiah saying like, hey, you put like your full name with your middle initial. Are you sure that like, usually people want like a little bit of anonymity? And I was like, I’m Ian R Buck, it’s a whole thing. But then I realized, like, you know what, maybe it would be more fun to have the Streets.mn Podcast be like, you know, a sponsor of an adopted stop.

Stina: The podcast has how many stops?

Ian: Two currently I am considering, you know, a third or a fourth near my home.

Stina: And I guess that’s kind of fun because mine is named after myself and my cat because she stares out the window and watches that stop far more than I do. So Stina and Cali have two stops. Um, so it’s not just getting a little sign with your name on it, and just the pride in your heart that you’ve adopted a stop. There are perks. There are some serious perks. Um, so for one, yes, you do get a custom sign if you want to. There are a lot of them that are adopted by anonymous folks. Um, but if you want to name it after you or some of the ones that we’ve heard about include, there are some folks within the streets, men, community and on the board who have adopted stops, which is delightful. Uh, there’s the Adventure Within Reason podcast, another local Minneapolis based podcast. One of them just says A nearby neighbor.

Ian: One of my favorites is, uh, right outside of one of the schools that I work at. It just says “You.”

Stina: It’s very PBS.

Ian: “Adopted by riders like you. Thank you.”

Stina: We met a family where it’s named after the family dog. Which is so delightful.

Ian: So some of the other perks that you get, um, they send you, like, a whole goodie package right at the beginning when you adopt your your stop partially with some materials to help you, you know, with your job of of cleaning up the stop, like a bunch of rubber gloves and a reflective vest to keep you safe.

Stina: Trash bags. For litter.

Ian: Yep. And, uh, and just a little bit of swag, right? Like I got a metro D line, like stocking cap, uh, and some lanyards and stuff like that.

Stina: I got two, like, can koozies.

Ian: Oh, right.

Stina: Um, some pens that write remarkably well. I think I had a couple other things, but then here’s the big one. Every single month you get a card, a go to card that is pre-loaded with ten free rides and that’s per stop. Yeah. So, for example, I adopted the two stops closest to my house. Please don’t dox me if you find them. I adopted the two closest stops to my house and I get two cards every month at 20 months. So that’s 20 rides. Um, and that’s primarily what I use when people visit. Like when my mom visited, she used one of my cards the whole weekend. And then there was this, like, magical surprise because we went to the first ever that is now annual.

Ian: Oh it is. Yes. Oh, this is that’s good. That’s fun.

Stina: That is some juicy news. It’s the first annual adopt a stop adoptees gathering appreciation thing. Yeah, it was like a brunch. It was incredible.

Ian: It was a lot of fun.

Stina: So we got to hear from a lot of folks within the Metro Transit staff. Yes. Including we got to hear from Marilyn Porter. She’s the director of. Engineering and facilities. She’s the one that told us all about how many facilities there are, and how many staff members are responsible for keeping all of those safe, easy to access, beautiful and kind of fun. Um, and she was talking about how her team is so grateful for the adopters because a lot of times they don’t know about the issues that are happening at, say, like an LRT station. They’re like, if they don’t know that, like something happened to the infrastructure there, they might not find out about it unless an adopter or a rider reports it.

Ian: And that’s that’s an important thing to note, right? When you adopt a stop, you’re not expected to do literally everything that there needs to be done. Like, yeah, picking up trash. That’s an easy one. But like like they don’t expect you to be shoveling or doing like maintenance on a shelter or anything like that, but like, we are the most likely people to actually contact Metro Transit and tell them about an issue that staff need to come out and take care of.

Stina: That’s actually a really good point, because let’s say someone is listening and they’re like, I’m not really ready to adopt a stop. But I do take transit often and I do have eyeballs where I see things. Mhm. Um, there is a form online within the Cleanliness and Facilities form on Metro Transit’s website, and that is a huge help. Those forms are used for job tracking. So seeing an issue go from being reported by someone to finished and also for data collection. So if they see that that particular stop or station is seeing repeated issues, they can keep a closer eye on it or they can work on some infrastructure changes, like maybe that place is a good candidate for some lighting. So they really, really depend on not only the adopters, but also folks that are just out there and see something. We also heard from general manager Lesley Kandaras. Yes, Lesley is a delight.

Ian: She made waves when she first, you know, got the job and immediately announced, like, I am going to ride every single Metro Transit route in my first year as general manager.

Stina: Can I tell you a little secret? Streets.mn is working with her team to do a ride along along a future BRT route.

Ian: So folks can find out about that in a future Streets.mn article?

Stina: Probably, absolutely. As soon as we get a date set, I it’ll be out there.

Ian: Nice.

Stina: Because she wants to ride along with folks in the community and organizations within the community and streets. Men said, yeah, that sounds like fun. Um, so yeah, keep your eyes peeled for that. So she was talking a lot about that. There are 43 action items as part of the safety plan that is within their website. And having a clean, welcoming and safe environment for all riders, regardless of age, regardless of ability level.

Ian: And and it goes beyond just riders too, right? Because like bus stops are a thing that you walk past whether you are riding the bus or not. You know, like like my one of my adopted stops is right in front of Seward Cafe and it’s like, yeah, I’m sure that the people who work at Seward Cafe are going to be really happy to have a clean sidewalk right outside of their store as well.

Stina: Right? And they like they really are these places of connection. Um, because that’s where people, you know, they you might ride the bus with the same people. If you are a commuter, every morning there is this little, this little tidbit of community building.

Ian: Mhm. Yeah. I know the one person on the 9 who, every time I write it in the morning, like everybody waves at her when she gets on.

Speaker3: That’s so sweet.

Stina: She shouted out a couple of folks that were at the event Gino who has adopted something like over ten stops. Mhm.

Ian: Yeah. I see them a lot in the like Cedar Riverside area. They have what, a groundskeeping business I think. Yes, yes.

Stina: Um a couple of schools, there was a local school in North Minneapolis, there was a group, the Minnesota Baritones. Oh yeah, at the university. And she shouted out the youngest adopter, who was a six year old boy, and his family, but his name is on the sign. And she also mentioned that 26 stops are adopted by Metro Transit staff. Individually, I think is very sweet. Also, while we were at that event, we did talk to some folks who are either current adopters and we also talked to some people who are adopting curious. Mhm. So you know take take that away.

Ian: More about the adopt a Stop program in a minute. But first, let’s take a little break in the parklet. So we have a couple of new news items about pedestrian crosswalk buttons, uh, sometimes referred to as beg buttons. Um, Minneapolis has reprogrammed the crosswalk signals at four different intersections with a what people are calling a cheat code. Uh, so if you hold down the button for five seconds, then it will give you, uh, when when it’s your turn to go, it will give you an extra 15 seconds of time to, uh, cross the street. Now they’re doing this, um, in a few places, such as at Malcolm and University. That’s that’s the only example of, uh, a an intersection that I know of where they’ve done this, but they have put these in place, uh, because of, um, requests from like, of some senior living communities near those, uh, corners, those four intersections. Um, and. Yeah, so, like, in theory, the those communities are letting their residents know about this, uh, little cheat code, but the cat’s out of the bag now, and, uh, you know, anybody in the public can find out about this. So if you’re ever at a crosswalk signal, uh, just try try, you know, holding it down for an extra five seconds and see what happens. Um, I think it is good for them to, you know, offer, like, extra time for those who can’t cross the street as quickly to get across.

Ian: But it does beg the question, why aren’t we just programming that in as the default? Why aren’t our why aren’t our systems designed to accommodate everybody? Uh, from the get go? The other little piece of, uh, pedestrian beg button news is I have noticed recently that as I’m reaching for some some of these buttons, I have felt like the little light activates before I even hit it. And so I asked a friend of mine, um, who works at the Minneapolis, uh, Signals Department, traffic signals Department, whether they have started, uh, installing units with, like, proximity sensors. And he said, yes, you’re not going crazy. Cause and effect has not been reversed in this universe. Uh, yeah. We we just have some of these buttons now detect your presence, uh, without you having to physically push them. I, I’m wondering what the rationale is for that because they haven’t had I haven’t noticed them sensing me when I’m just standing there at the corner. It’s always when I, like, walk up towards them in order to push them. And I’m like, already reaching my hand over to them when they detect me. So they must be like pretty close range. And at that point, I mean, I’m already reaching for the button, so like I’m going to push the button.

Ian: It’s it’s not it’s not removing that need for interaction from me. All right. One last thing before we hop back into the episode, remember that Streetsmart is a community blog and podcast and relies on contributions from audience members like you. If you can make a one time or recurring donation, you can find more information about doing so at streetsmart. Donate. All right, let’s get back to the Adopt a Stop program.

Connor: Hi my name is Connor Carroll. I’ve been doing the adopt to stop since May or April of this year I can’t remember and my stops are on Nicollet. Avenue in south Minneapolis. Nicollet and 45th Street. And there are two stops. Kitty corner to each other right across from my apartment building. So it’s very convenient and just walk out and then walk back. It takes me like, you know, 5 to 10 minutes a week or less, and it’s great. And I first heard about it actually on Twitter. Unfortunately, I saw other people from Minneapolis posting about it, and it seemed like a cool way to, I don’t know, just get involved and help the community a little bit by making it cleaner. And, um, you know, the Metro cards per month, like, or, uh, the free rides helps and I give some of them to friends of mine that don’t have cars and stuff too. So it’s. Yeah, it’s cool. I like walking around out there in my reflective vest. It’s fun.

Stina: Can I ask you what is your favorite bus route right now?

Connor: Oh, I like the Orange Line. I live pretty close to the Orange Line near 46th and 35 W, and it’s just so easy to get downtown when I don’t feel like biking or, uh, um, or driving. So, um, yeah, the orange line is great.

Stina: So. Yes. Can you tell me your name? Um, a little bit about your stop and how long you have been a stopped adopter?

Eric: Yeah, my name is Eric. I’ve adopted two stops on the D line on Chicago Avenue, and I think it’s been a few months now that we’ve been adopting them.

Stina: And so you said the D line. Do you think that that’s any more or less difficult than a stop that’s, say, on a traditional bus route?

Eric: Uh, yeah, a bit of both. Definitely gets more traffic than other lines, but there are like trash cans there on site and everything, so it’s easier to pick it up and just put it in the trash can right there and not have to bring trash bags with me and stuff like that.

Stina: And what got you interested in the program or how did you hear about it?

Eric: Yeah, I think I saw a post on Reddit that someone, um, had mentioned it and had never heard of it before. It sounded like a really cool program. Um, yeah, we live basically just a block away from it, so I thought it’d be fun, easy, and a good thing to do. Yeah.

Hassan: My name is Hassan Barzani, I just love giving back. And I’ve adopted 14. I’m going to adopt more stops. Like four of them are just university based. They wanted to UT San Antonio Roadrunners Alumni Association, Crown College polar did my second master’s alumni association, Southern New Hampshire University Alumni Association stop and I’ll be attending the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor adopted a stop as well. I’ve not stopped with one of my best groups here, all Joy Fitness Club, and I’ve done for myself as well. In Bloomington, he eat um dinkytown in the North Loop. Just love giving back. My story is unique. I come from a single parent hassle. My I’m a summit immigrant. My family lost family, five family members at the time, Saddam Hussein regime and Kurdistan and Iraq before I was born. And I always knew I was going to have a name on a street or a sign when Metro came with the opportunity. I just I’m an Eagle Scout and a Boy Scouts of America program. I love to volunteer. I love to have my name on a street or a sign just giving back. And it’s like a baton giving for the next generation. And then like, everything worked out, so. And I’m here.

Stina: Can I ask, what do you do with all of the transit cards that you receive?

Hassan: Um, I use it to get to work. I take the advanced Rapid Transit to Orange Line to Bloomington and Eden Prairie. I work at several other venues as well theater venues and Minneapolis-Saint Paul. So I get around. I haven’t had a car in like 11 going on 12 years. I’m a huge advocate of public transportation. I love light rail. I’m loving the Advanced Rapid transit, not only the Twin Cities offer, but other cities like Indianapolis, San Antonio, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Denver, Salt Lake City, even Detroit starting to launch their advanced rapid transit as well. It’s the future of public transportation. The future is 21st century. It’s affordable, it’s cheaper, it’s safer, and it saves the environment.

Stina: And then last question what is your favorite transit line in the Metro Transit right now?

Hassan: Yeah, I love the Orange Line, I love Bloomington, I love the diversity in Bloomington. I’m a huge Mall of America person. I worked in three different malls in my life throughout the United States. Um, it just gets me from point A to point B. I mean, the South Metro and the West Metro are two of the fastest growing metros in the Twin Cities. I love the city as well because it gets me to my city job as well on the weekends. So I love the advanced rapid transit and it just makes me motivation to continue the momentum that Metro Transit has to offer in the Twin Cities and beyond. So yeah, thank you so much. Thank you so much. Opportunity.

Stina: Okay, so can you tell me your name, uh, where your stop is and we’ll start there.

Henric: Uh, my name is Henric, and I’ve adopted a stop with my partner Stephanie. My stop is at. 66th Street and James in Richfield.

Stina: And how long have you adopted your stop?

Henric: I first adopted the stop in October.

Stina: Oh, so it’s new. Do you have your sign yet?

Henric: Uh, no. Our sign is not ready yet, but we are eagerly awaiting it.

Stina: My sign took, like, six months. It’s totally okay. Um. Bop bop bop bop. So, what got you? Where did you hear about the Adopt a Stop program? And kind of like, what is it? What does it mean to you?

Henric: Yeah. So I was scrolling through the Minneapolis Reddit and saw a chain about it and didn’t think so much about it at first, but thought it was a good idea until my friend Eric, uh, sent into our group chat the same link. And then I looked into it more and I was like, wow, that sounds like a brilliant program and a great way to build community and to get me on transit more. Yeah.

Stina: I love that. Do you have anything else before I hit the UN record?

Henric: The Orange Line is the best BRT in the cities.

Stina: Start with your name and kind of like what brought you here. Hi.

William: My name is William. I’m located in Richfield. Uh, I was brought in to the adopt a stop world through my friend Henrik. I’m not an adoptee yet, but I’m adopting, curious, and I’m likely going to adopt a stop in Richfield off of 66.

Stina: So off of 66, I bike down there is what is the transit lines?

William: Uh, it would be a stop for the 515 line. There’s there’s two really close by, so I’ll probably just adopt both of them.

Stina: So you heard about this event from another adopter, and they brought you along. Um, so what makes you excited to adopt your stop? Potentially.

William: Uh, I think just getting more involved in the community is pretty exciting. And then it’s got some nice perks to it. I mean, we’re here at a great event, and, you know, we’ve got some Metro Transit cards each month.

Stina: So yeah, ten free rides. And then what is your favorite transit line in the Metro Transit system right now?

William: Oh, the Orange Line for sure.

Stina: Do you typically take it north?

William: Yeah. Usually north. I haven’t taken it south yet, but I hear there’s good skiing south, so.

Ian: Like so I really enjoyed the whole group of friends from Richfield area who like some of them started and then they got their friends into it. And now all of them are adopting these stops, and they all came to the event together. That was a lot of fun.

Stina: And they all found out about it on Reddit.

Ian: Oh yeah. Mhm.

Stina: Which I think is very cute.

Stina: And then we have a couple of, of personal friends who have found out about it through us talking about it constantly on Twitter or in real life.

Ian: You just you can’t get us to shut up about it.

Stina: And then can I give you a tiny tangent? Um, so my pottery teacher from northern Clay center, hi, Olivia. Back in October, they mentioned in class that they take the bus most days, and that’s part of the reason why they went to university here. And that’s part of the reason why they live where they live within the metro area. And, um, being able to work at the at the Clay center, they take the bus most days and I ask them in class, have you adopted your bus stop? And they were like, what are you talking about? So I got to talk about the program and the free rides, free ride cards that we get. And they went and adopted their stop last month with their brother.

Ian: Nice.

Stina: And then we saw them at the event.

Ian: Ooh.

Stina: And that’s amazing. So I was so excited that to see someone go from, what is this thing you’re talking about that you’re very excited about to hey, I’m so glad I ran into you. I adopted my stop because you told me about it.

Ian: Stina does this make you a hashtag influencer?

Stina: Yeah, I’m a bus stop influencer. Yes. Let’s get that. Get that TikTok and Instagram money for the podcast.

Ian: Crossover with Mister Barricade.

Stina: So, Ian, as you know, this podcast goes to folks that are not just in the Twin Cities.

Ian: Oh yes, we’re worldwide.

Stina: Um, you can send this podcast episode to anyone, anywhere in the world, wherever.

Ian: Anywhere you find your podcasts.

Stina: So if I don’t live in the Twin Cities, but I want to adopt a bus stop, so many cities have similar programs. We were looking some up earlier. We got Portland, Charlotte, Detroit, Indianapolis, just to name a few. And if you live in a community that doesn’t have a program yet, you can always have them. Check out the program on the Better Bus Stops and the Adopt a Stop webpage on Metro Transit’s website, and you can. Also have those folks reach out to Jeremiah because he is the expert, and he said that I could plug him. Mhm. So that they can start up their own bus stop adoption program, so that you can also see your bus stops and bus stations improve.

Ian: Yeah. We would love to see this in more communities.

Stina: Oh yeah. That is if your community does this. We want to see and hear about it. You can always drop us a line. Yeah.

Ian: Email [podcast@streets.mn] We’re always looking at that inbox.

Stina: Yeah. Or tag us on any of the social medias with hashtag…

Ian: #StreetsMNPodcast

Stina: Ah thank you Ian.

Ian: Little story of something that happened to me while I was, uh, cleaning up one of my stops. Um, I’m just like, you know, groovin, minding my own business. Listen to some podcasts in my earbuds while I’m, uh, while I’m cleaning up and, uh, and, you know, so I’m looking at the floor because I’m picking up trash and everything, and I. And I look up to see that there’s there’s a bus, like, right in front of me, like they had pulled up to the curb and, uh, they opened the door and I’m like, you know, oh, no, I’m not, you know, I’m not getting on the bus. And the bus driver, like, leans over and he’s like, do you work for Metro Transit? I think also because I was wearing the, like the D-line hat that I had gotten and I’m like wearing like the, the reflective vest and everything. So I was like, oh no. Like, no, I’m not staff. I just, uh, you know, I adopted this stop and I like, pointed the little sign, you know, and he’s like, wait, what? And I’m like, oh, wow, a bus operator who hasn’t heard about this yet. So I got to share that. And he was like, that is super cool. Thank you for doing that.

Stina: It’s pretty magical. It’s so sweet.

Ian: I’ve gotten yeah. Just like thanked by many people who are just like walking by on the sidewalk while I’m while I’m cleaning up and I’m like yeah I just, I’m, I’m just doing a thing.

Stina: And like you mentioned that you’re not required to shovel snow. I just do because I love the workout and my bus stops both tend to be pretty litter free. Um, so I’m like, I’ve got to do something during these cards. And some people will say like, thank you so much when I’m, when I’m shoveling.

Ian: Mhm. Yeah. And that’s the thing is like like thinking about the stops around you and like where can you make a big impact, you know. And what kind of impact do you want to have I think is really important and really useful as well because you know where I’m at, depending on which direction you walk from my apartment, like you’ll either get to a bus stop that has a lot of traffic, a lot you know, and sees a fair amount of litter piling up just because there’s a lot of people there. Uh, and then on the other end, there’s like, oh, wow, hardly anybody walks over there on like, Minnehaha Avenue. Um, still being able to, you know, check out and make sure that like, oh, the bench is still there and is in good working order and stuff.

Stina: I want to dive into the absolute massive scope and scale of what Metro Transit does for Twin citizens. How do we what is what do we call ourselves. Twin Citizens?

Ian: According to Roman Mars, we are Twin Citizens. Yes.

Stina: Oh, I like that, actually. Thank you, Roman. Mr. Mars, I don’t know.

Ian: [jokingly serious voice] “Please, Mr. Mars was my father.” [laughter]

Stina: We can talk about the absolute massive amount of. Routes. Ridership. Just the level of service that Metro Transit provides for the Twin Citizens, as Roman Mars calls us.

Ian: Yeah, give me some stats. Yeah.

Stina: So Metro Transit serves 90 cities, so any incorporated area within Minnesota is considered a city. So 90 cities, not just the twins, nine separate counties. There are. Well, as of last year, they had 38.8 million rides in a year. So an average weekday ridership was 118,509 118,000.

Ian: Wow.

Stina: Yeah, yeah, every single day. And you’re like, wait, that’s that seems really busy. Well, yeah, it is 159 routes within the system. Um, of those, five are bus rapid transit. Currently.

Ian: We’re soon to be many more.

Stina: We have two light rails, one commuter rail. Hello, Northstar. And we’re like 159 routes. There must be buses all over the place. There are 920 total vehicles within the fleet. That is everything from the 102 hybrid electric buses. There are a couple of other electric buses. There are the articulated. There are 207 articulated buses. Those are the bendy ones. They kind of have that little accordion in the middle.

Ian: I noticed that the light rail vehicles, I’m thinking probably every individual car is counted. So like when you see a full size LRT train going by, that’s three vehicles.

Stina: Absolutely.

Ian: Okay. And I have seen a like an animation, a visualization of what our bus fleet looks like throughout a day. Like, you know, somebody took all of the data of all of the scheduled trips that buses and trains make in the Metro Transit system and, you know, sped it up so that you’re just watching like a full 24 hours over the course of 2 or 3 minutes. And it is incredible how few buses are actually in transit at any given time. It blew my mind. Like how few vehicles we actually need in order to move tons and tons of people around in the Twin Cities. Like, yeah, I knew that that public transit is efficient. I did not like the scope of how efficient it actually is. It is so much better than I realized.

Stina: And the same page where I got all of these facts also has a little bit of the customer base. And this is from the 2021 Travel Behavior Inventory. So 51% of all riders are ages 18 to 34. So there’s a lot of young people taking the bus. 41% of riders make less than $35,000 as their annual household income. We are serving 45% of the riders are black, indigenous or people of color, and 70% of those riders are doing trips for something other than peak commute. So people aren’t just going to work, they’re not just going to school, they’re going…

Ian: In fact, over half of the time they’re doing other things.

Stina: They’re going on dates, they’re going to doctor’s appointments, they’re going to the movies, they’re going to shop and eat and all kinds of things. Just living and thriving without a car.

Ian: Mhm.

Stina: And Metro Transit is helping all of that happen.

Ian: We’re lucky to have them honestly.

Stina: We really are. I think we always forget how we have it real good here.

Ian: Mhm. Mhm.

Stina: And I think for other cities in the Midwest being able to take a look at the Twin Cities and say well if they can do it way up there why can’t we.

Ian: And sometimes it’s uh, you know, it’s good for us to be able to look at other communities as well and see what they’re doing. Um, like, I’ve had that feeling looking at Duluth, where I was like, oh, wow. Their public school system is giving, like every staff member and every student, a free, you know, monthly bus pass. Why can’t we do that here in Minneapolis?

Stina: So let me see if I have some final thoughts. I think being able to adopt my bus stop along with my cat, California, was something that was just so simple to do, but such a big impact. Not just on my block, but being able to talk about it and meet other people, meet other adopters, meet the folks at Metro Transit who, you know, do all this stuff behind the scenes, and just made me really proud to live in my neighborhood and proud to be a part of this entire system. Yeah. And I really, really hope that listeners get to feel that too.

Ian: It definitely gets me, like out of my little apartment and out there on the corner next to the bus stop way more often. And so I feel a lot more connected to, yeah, to the Seward area, simply because, like, I’m out there picking up. And I, you know, am seeing that seeing like that specific corner every week. And it’s giving me ideas of like, oh, like what can I do besides just picking up trash to kind of like make it a unique space. You know, I love that. Like the, the, the stop right in front of Seward Cafe has like a little garden built into it, basically near the bench. It’s got me wondering, like, what else can I do to to help make that space nice and welcoming?

Stina: Yeah. So get out there, take the bus, adopt your stop, or talk to your transit agency about getting this implemented where you live. I just have fun. Be part of your community.

Ian: Mhm. Yeah.

Stina: Thank you so much for having me, Ian.

Ian: Thanks for bringing this story to us.

Stina: Anytime.

Ian: Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Streets.mn Podcast. The show is released under a Creative Commons Attribution non-commercial Non-derivative license, so feel free to republish the episode as long as you’re not altering it and you are not profiting from it. The music in this episode is by Erik Brandt and the Urban Hillbilly Quartet. This episode was produced by Stina Neel, edited and transcribed by Parker Seaman aka Strongthany and hosted by me, Ian R Buck. We’re always looking to feature new voices on the Streets.mn Podcast, so if you have ideas for future episodes, drop us a line at [podcast@streets.mn] and find other listeners and discuss this episode on your favorite social media platform using #StreetsMNPodcast. Until next time. Take care.

About Christina Neel

Pronouns: she/her

Christina moved to the Twin Cities from the Florida Keys in 2021 and fell completely in love with the area. She works as a City and Regional Planner and spends her days biking, singing, and hanging out with her cat named California. Events Committee volunteer

About Ian R Buck

Pronouns: he/him

Podcaster and teacher. Ian gets around via bike and public transportation. "You don't need a parachute to skydive; you just need a parachute to skydive twice!"