Things happen on the roads and the rails — crashes, construction, demonstrations — that can force buses and trains to deviate from their routes and run late or not at all.

Starting Monday, Metro Transit is launching a new Twitter account dedicated to alerting riders when trips are canceled, delayed or rerouted.

The account @MT_MN_Alerts will broadcast real-time alerts the agency already posts on its website and sends by e-mail and text message to riders who subscribe to receive them.

“This is part of a larger effort to improve communication around service disruptions,” Transit Information Project Manager Bre Grand said. “It provides an additional way to find out about service disruptions.”

The new Twitter account is for outgoing messages only, meaning Metro Transit staff won’t monitor it for comments. Riders can continue to engage staff on the agency’s main Twitter feed, @MetroTransitMN.

To make the alerts easy to follow, each tweet will be accompanied by an icon. Bus Rider Alerts will feature a red bus, while a blue or green light-rail train icon will denote alerts about Blue or Green Line LRT service. The number of Rider Alerts issued for current or upcoming schedule changes can vary from day to day, but an event such as a winter snowstorm could trigger a barrage of tweets.

“That’s one of the reasons we created graphics to provide a visual cue for which modes our alerts are for,” Grand said.

Metro Transit installed new technology over the summer that allows staff members to push alerts across multiple platforms simultaneously, including the new Twitter account. The system, called TRANSIT-alerts, also produces an industry standard data feed that allows third parties such as Google or the Transit app to display the same alerts.

Metro Transit also redesigned its Rider Alerts web page. Notices will feature icons and more colors and distinguish alerts by when they’re in effect to help customers quickly find those that may affect them, Grand said.

“We heard from customers who want to be aware of detours and service disruptions as they plan their transit trips to reduce potential frustration,” Grand said. And they want to be able to find it easily, she added. “It’s important to continue to improve delivery of customer information.”

Nice Ride turns 10

This was not the banner year folks at Nice Ride Minnesota were hoping for as ridership dipped, largely as a result of COVID-19.

But it was hardly a lost season. The popular bike share program marked its 10th anniversary and introduced new electric power-assisted bikes to the fleet. Lyft, which operates the program, deployed about 1,000 e-bikes across Minneapolis and has another 1,000 in a storehouse ready to put on the streets in 2021, said Nice Ride Executive Director Bill Dossett.

“E-bikes help bike share work for people with different riding abilities and they make longer trips easier,” said Tamara Conway, Lyft’s general manager for bikes and scooters in the Midwest.

This year also saw the arrival of new e-bike docking stations designed by Dero, a Minneapolis company.

In its first year, Nice Ride provided about 100,000 rides on its shiny green pedal bikes. Over the past 10 years, Nice Ride has provided 3.6 million rides on its bicycles and 173,000 scooter rides.

 

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