Terra Nomad

Every day is like survival. You're my lover, not my rival.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Local Transportation

In Downtown Minneapolis, Marquette and Second Avenues are under construction right now. Once the project, called Marq2, is complete in the Spring of 2009, all express buses that currently use Nicollet will move to Marquette and Second. The new layout for both streets will be two bus lanes and two traffic lanes. Neither one will have a bike lane and bicyclists are expected to use Nicollet Mall. Currently, bikes are not allowed on Nicollet Mall between 6am and 6pm, although I see plenty of them there and have never seen one getting a ticket. At some point, bikes will be allowed on Nicollet 24 hours a day. The Marq2 project is costing approximately $41 million dollars and is funded by the $133.3 million grant that Minnesota got from the US Dept of Transportation in order to reduce congestion in the Twin Cities.

In 2009, Hennepin and First Avenues will be converted from a 1-way street to a 2-way street for vehicular traffic. That project doesn't have a slick brochure like the Marq2 yet and doesn't appear to be funded by the grant.

There are plans to build 45 more miles of bikeways in Minneapolis through 2010.

The Lowry Avenue bridge was closed in April of 2008 and reconstruction is not scheduled to begin until summer of 2009. It is expected to take 2 years.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008


I forgot that today was the day of the fare increase. My bus home has a sign on the farebox that just says "$2.25".
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008


If it weren't for the couple blocking the aisle, Skooch would have been the oddest thing I'd seen all day. The couple had two GIANT backpacks and were sitting on either side of aisle with their legs turned towards each other. They were also holding hands and all of this caused them to block the aisle of the bus. Whenever a passenger got on, they had to turn their knees and let go of each other. This not only squished the people sitting next to them, but also provided a very small opening for others to push through. Despite the fact that the entire back half of the bus held exactly one passenger, they took the first two forward-facing seats.
Skooch got on a stop or two after I did. He wore a very long grey afro, combed out to stand even higher, and coke bottle glasses. He had a full backpack and a grocery bag with him. So when the couple only gave him eight inches of room, he had quite a bit of manuvering to do. He got past them and found two empty seats. He struggled to remove his backpack while still standing because the bus was now in motion.
When it came time for him to get off of the bus, he stayed seated while putting on his backpack. This caused him to be wedged between his seat and the one in front of him. After a hurculean effort, he launched himself out of the tight space, grabbed his grocery bag and disembarked.
I imagine that his friends call him Skooch and he is both the local oddball and the neighborhood "familiar stranger". If my annoyance had not been all used up on the aisle-blocking couple, I probably would have found him a bit annoying. Luckily I didn't have any bad feelings leftover for him.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Da Bus

I ride the bus to work and to school when I can, so I enjoy reading the local blogs by riders and drivers.
Picking Up Strangers gave me a lot of laughs and a few gasps today. I found it from Jeanne's comment on Bus Tales.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Transit on the go

I just used Nextrip Mobile from Metro Transit here. It worked great, unlike the phone version that didn't seem to think there were any more trips on the 4 after 8:50 pm. I even tried to get tomorrow schedule instead and it thought a sneeze was me saying "Eight".
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Monday, March 31, 2008

Germany and Prague - Day 9

Monday, March 31 - Train to Dresden, Rental Car to Ingolstadt, Sleep in Ingolstadt

I had been fighting off a cough since the start of this trip, and Monday morning it kept me awake from 4am to 6am. I'd set my alarm for 7:30, but I fell back asleep until 8am. There was a train bound for Dresden due to leave the Holesovice station at 8:36 am, so I rushed to pack up the last of my stuff. I made it to the train in time and had to find an open seat since my ticket was a generic one with no seat assignment. Since this train was going back to Berlin, there were the same awesome views all the way to Dresden.

Once we got to Dresden, I knew I needed to disembark at Neustadt station to get on the S-Bahn route S2 to the airport. But I was anxious to get off the stuffy, crowded train and assumed there was plenty of transit between Haubtbahnof and Neustadt. There probably is, but I couldn't figure it out after I left the train at Haubtbahnof. I couldn't find any stops for the S2, nor could I find any routes at the station that said they went to Neustadt. I asked a few people but they didn't understand or didn't know where the S2 stopped.

Finally I walked around a tiny mall and found a stop for the S3. I got on it going the wrong direction first, but finally made it to Neustadt and got on an S2 to the airport.  The S3 had been a beautiful ride with views of museums that crossed over a river. The S2 went past some junkyards and lots of wooded areas. Once I made it to the airport, I rented a black VW Passat from Budget with automatic transmission. It didn't have a standard key, but instead you put a large fob into an ignition bay on the dashboard. No turning required, just push it in to start the engine.

After familiarizing myself with the car, it was time to drive on the German Autobahn! I exited the airport and got on the 4 to Chemnitz. Well, first I got on the 4 going the wrong direction and had to turn around to get to Chemnitz. Then I took the 72 and stopped at rest stop outside of Plaven. You have to pay 50 cents to use the bathroom, but you get it back if you buy something at the store there. The 9 then took me past Nuremburg and on to Ingolstadt, where I was staying for the night. The hotel was two quick turns off the Autobahn and I discovered that the Audi headquarters are in Ingolstadt. I ate dinner in the hotel's Italian restaurant: spaghetti with olive oil and garlic and then salmon.

Day Ten

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Italy Trip - Day Nine

Thursday, May 24th

After breakfast at my hotel and watching a little bit of Dukes of Hazzard in Italian, I packed everything and headed to the Santa Maria Novella train station. There I bought a map of Naples and a book of short stories by Jennifer Weiner. I got some pizza before getting on the train and realized how much easier it was the second time. Basically, try to get on the right car and listen to the announcements, since they repeat most of them in English. My train was direct to Naples, but stopped at Roma Termini, where it reversed so that I was facing forward and saw quite a few mountains on the east side of the tracks. It started to get very foggy and the sky turned stormy as we neared Naples. When we arrived at Napoli Centrale, I bought my Naples to Rome ticket for Saturday. I bought it for 6:30pm, since it was only an hour and a half back to Rome and I figured I'd want to spend time in Naples before I left.

As I headed down to the Circumvesuviana, the train that runs from Naples to outlying cities, I was expecting just one route, but there are actually six different lines! Luckily I knew my train's final destination was Sorrento, even though I was going to Sant'Angello. On the hour-long ride, I got my first tiny glimpses of both Vesuvius and the Mediterranean! I also overheard some guys speaking a language that I thought sounded like French until one of them said the Russian word for good (roughly "hodoshow").

When I got off the train, I headed towards the water and ended up making a large U through Sant'Angello instead of going right to my B&B. I didn't mind though, because as I turned a corner, I saw a breathtaking view of the bay overlooking Sorrento with a huge cruise ship in the port. Mami Camilla, my B&B, gave me a sparkling clean room with a queen bed. The whole Sorrentine peninsula has these sweet smelling flowers and the smell wafted into my room!

After changing clothes and resting a bit, I used the map they gave me to walk into Sorrento, veering left to go along Corso Italia instead of the road along the ocean. I had read about two places in Sorrento,
Standa grocery store and Pizzeria da Franco and they were both on Corso Italia. I found each of them, but I wasn't really hungry yet, so I kept walking through town towards Marina Piccola. There's another great view at the top of the road just before it starts to descend towards the marina. You can see Mount Vesuvius and look back along the coast to see Piano di Sorrento and Sant'Agnello. You also get to watch the hydrofoils that head out to Naples, Capri and Ischia. I walked back into town and past Standa, which was closed now, so I ate at Pizzeria da Franco. I ordered the provolone, walnut and honey appetizer and a pepperoni sandwich. They were both great and of course I had to have some Limoncello, since lemons are such a major part of Sorrento. I got back to the B&B pretty late.

Day Ten

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Bus Stop, bus go, she stays, what grows?

Wow Metro Transit's #11 route has been horrible lately. On both December 21st and 22nd, the southbound bus I was on drove right past the stop on 3rd Ave and 14th Street, even though there were people waiting there. The second time, I pulled the string and yelled up to the driver that he had missed the stop. He just gave me a dirty look and kept going. Then on Saturday, I was waiting at the stop at 3rd and 19th at 7:20pm to go downtown and the bus drove right past me, even after I waved at it. I hauled it over to Nicollet and got on the 18, which also blew past a stop with a waiting passenger at Grant street, but at least the bus hit a red light and the person was able to catch the bus. Then last night, I waited for the #2 to go Uptown and was about to drive instead when it showed up ten minutes late. Yes, it was snowing, but I have seen drivers refuse to wait 30 seconds for someone who is running for the bus, even after their friends have asked the driver to wait.

I'm really sick of rude drivers, especially when they pull away from the stop before you can sit down and then have to slam on the breaks because they were pulling up to a red light anyway.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005


I live about twelve blocks from the building I work in, which is another eight blocks away from the school I attend. I take the bus every morning, and at least 3 times a week on the way home, even though I own a car. Parking in downtown Minneapolis is between $9-11 per day and it wouldn't save me that much time anyway. Metro Transit changed the route I ride last year so that it goes down Nicollet Mall instead of using 8th and 9th streets downtown. They reason that it's a more direct route to Northeast Minneapolis. What I don't agree with is placing another route on an already over crowded street, a street that hosts a parade every night in December that requires the busses to be rerouted, as well as a Farmer's Market every Thursday in the summer that makes for a very crowded evening rush. For Metro Transit, rerouting busses means moving them to Hennepin, which is two blocks away from Nicollet and also hosts a few too many bus routes as it is. Doesn't it make sense to move the routes to Marquette, which is only a block away and has express routes on it? Southbound busses could use Marquette and Northbound busses could use Second Ave, as they are both set up to handle one way bus traffic. Another solution would be to move the express routes on Nicollet to Marquette/Second and the local routes to Hennepin. That's something that I've always wondered about, why they have express and local routes on the same street downtown. Express busses are pay-as-you-leave routes in the evening, so they don't waste time waiting for passengers to pay their fare in busy downtown traffic. But it defeats the purpose to put these same routes behind a local bus that has to wait for passengers to pay as they board. When I raised this question to Metro Transit in a recent complaint, they said it's valid but they'd never heard it before, so they weren't going to do anything about it.
Now they are running an experiment where the Nicollet routes will be on Hennepin from 6:30pm to 11:30pm over the summer. They plan to survey their customers, business owners, pedestrians and downtown residents to see what people think of the change. Oh please, let them ask me! I pay $1.75 right now each time I ride, and for that I get a slow ride on a bus with at least one person who smells, one kid who can't keep her hands to herself, and three people talking way too loudly on their phone or to another passenger. They want to raise fares for a local ride to $2.00 this summer.
So, if Personal Rapid Transit isn't coming soon to a metro area near me, then a revamp of Nicollet Mall is needed. Since we are too backward to have any kind of subway system, we need to have a bus tunnel that goes under the current Mall that only allows busses; no taxis, no pedestrians and no bikes. Bikes would be allowed in a special bike route in the middle of the Mall, which would be a version of the current street with a wider sidewalk and curbs that are much closer together. Stairs and ramps would connect the street level to the bus tunnel, and could even rise up to the skyway system. The tunnel could act as a subway station by providing information to those waiting on which busses are nearing the stop, and which ones have already left.
Instead of improving the current system, there are plans to cut back service and raise fares. It doesn't seem like such a pipe dream to me to make transit profitable, or at least reduce it's dependance on government subsidy. It would just take some passion and creativity, or maybe some privatization?

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