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The Hiawatha light-rail line will be called the Blue Line in Metro Transit's branding makeover.

Jennifer Simonson, Star Tribune

Metro transit vehicle design redone; routes to be color-coded

  • Article by: PAT DOYLE
  • Star Tribune
  • February 24, 2012 - 5:45 AM

The Twin Cities' only light-rail line still wasn't running to every station Thursday, but transit designers moved past that.

Bowing to suburban pressure in a spat over color schemes, the Metropolitan Council returned to the drawing board and redesigned all of its light-rail and bus rapid transit vehicles.

The color pattern and logo for bus rapid transit answers complaints from Dakota County officials that the design for the future Cedar Avenue rapid buses lacked vibrancy.

The new logo -- a white "T" and the word "METRO" -- also will be painted on light-rail cars. The "T" replaces an "M" logo scorned by the suburban officials.

"Everybody had an idea of what the "M" should look like," said Bruce Howard, marketing director for Metro Transit. "We were trying to please everybody and really pleased nobody with the "M."

"In the end ... it made more sense to us to use the T," he said.

The detente on design came as the city of Minneapolis reported progress on fixing a pedestrian bridge whose failure forced the suspension of service to three stations on the Hiawatha light-rail transit line. One official said the LRT line could fully reopen as early as Friday.

Coloring the lines

The Met Council approved the concessions this week as it reaffirmed plans made last July to name current and future lines by color.

The Hiawatha line will be the Blue Line; stations along the line will be renamed during regular maintenance work. The future Central line and its proposed extension, the Southwest line, will be green. The Cedar Avenue bus rapid transit, expected to open in November, will be red. The proposed 35W bus rapid transit will be orange.

It was the color red -- or lack of it -- that made some Dakota County officials crimson.

County Commissioner Paul Krause wrote Met Council chair Susan Haigh imploring her to add more red. He walked out of a meeting last week with agency officials after declaring, "There's no shazam in the colors. ... It looks like just another metro bus to me."

Krause did not return phone calls Thursday on his reaction to the new design, which includes more red.

But Dakota County spokesperson Gail Plewacki said, "Everyone agreed it was a better direction."

The new designs don't apply to regular city buses.

Prolonged disruption

The redesign decision came as Metro Transit and the city of Minneapolis reported Thursday that train service to three Hiawatha stations will remain interrupted -- but not for how long.

The service to Franklin Avenue, Lake Street/Midtown and the 38th Street stations was interrupted Monday after cables broke on the Martin Olav Sabo pedestrian bridge that crosses the tracks.

The city said it completed work on a support structure for the bridge and plans on removing a second pair of compromised cables Friday. Inspectors will run a series of checks, looking for any new signs of cracking, bowing or frayed strands of cables.

After the inspections are complete, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Metro Transit and bridge recovery officials will determine when Hiawatha Avenue can reopen between 26th and 28th streets and light rail service can resume.

Buses will continue to replace light rail at those locations until service is resumed.

Minneapolis City Council member Gary Schiff said Thursday he was told by city public works that "LRT could be operational as soon as tomorrow or sometime this weekend."

Pat Doyle • 612-673-4504

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