LRT Disappointments

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IllogicalJake
Target Field
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LRT Disappointments

Postby IllogicalJake » May 1st, 2014, 8:35 am

I was excited to start using the LRT for my entire daily commute, even knowing MetroTransit is far from the most perfect transit system in the world, but I'm a little underwhelmed and disappointed by some problems that just seem so glaring. (I made this a new thread because it pertains to Metro's LRT as a whole, but since Blue Line is the only line open, it can be merged with that if needed.)

I've been a bit amazed at how unreliable the trains are at being on time. At least the every-10-minute schedule makes it so that when you miss a train, you're not waiting long for the next. But why can I know exactly when an express bus is arriving but have to wait until the next train shows up, seemingly at random. The longest I've waited for a train, and yes I've timed because I'm faux-OCD like that :lol:, is 17 minutes. While watching three trains of the opposite direction come and go at the station. That makes for a frustrating morning, and also means my downtown zone ticket has technically expired before I've even been able to board.

And why have arrival times posted at stations at all when they never match the actual? Silly me actually based my morning around getting to the train stop at a certain time before realizing it was useless.

And the drivers, well, don't seem great at letting the passengers knowing what's going on, either. Three times I've been on trains where the digital signs/announcements are for the wrong stations. I mean, if I were new to the city and taking the train in from the airport, I'm probably going to be disappointed to realize the stop that said "Nicollet Mall" on the train is actually Downtown East. I tried to alert a driver to this as I was getting off and the train was stopped, but I was just chastised for disturbing the driver... while she was reading at the stoplight.

I've also boarded a train that was clearly in service, but during my whole downtown zone ride was constantly replaying "This train is not in service. Please exit the train. Take your belongings with you."

And don't even get me started on boarding after a Twins game... How can someone explain why there are signs that actually point in the opposite direction of where I'm supposed to be walking to board? Seemed like an improvised, unorganized mess.

Now, this is all from the perspective of someone that's new to the city and honestly hasn't used public transit a lot. I'm here to embrace it, and I want to embrace it. While I can see past a lot of the mess, I really can't imagine how bad some first impressions may be for visitors of the city. Or am I just too picky? Is there some information I don't know about that
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VAStationDude
US Bank Plaza
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Re: LRT Disappointments

Postby VAStationDude » May 1st, 2014, 8:53 am

I use the train probably 750 times a year. I really think you're being over dramatic or had an out of the ordinary experience. This past winter was pretty trying for the Blue Line. Extremely harsh winter conditions - extreme cold, large amounts of snow, blowing snow - make for a very challenging environment to operate a train line. Coupled with the weather, there was construction at both the Target Field and the Green Line tie in between Downtown East and Cedar Riverside. Metrotransit also introduced an entire new fleet of LRVs.

I've noticed marked improvements in on-time performance since the winter has ended. Train speeds have improved between Cedar Riverside and Downtown East and the conflicts caused by having to use the crossover between Nicollet and Hennepin are over. The new Siemens trains are prone to break down. Hopefully this problem will also improve.

The signs at the Twins games are for directing large crowds after the game ends. If you're leaving early or the crowds are small, just walk to the platform. No biggie.

The biggest thing that could be done to increase train reliability, imo, is time the lights at Chicago and Park better. The trains run pretty fast through the rest of downtown but if they just miss the light at Chicago, they have to wait over a minute to get going again.

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FISHMANPET
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Re: LRT Disappointments

Postby FISHMANPET » May 1st, 2014, 8:59 am

I don't ride nearly that often, but I've never seen the train announce the wrong station.

It's annoying that nextrip doesn't work with the trains yet, but that's supposedly coming soon, right?

I wish it didn't take so long to get from the Airport to MOA. I went to the mall last weekend, and I think it took at least 5 minutes to get through the American Blvd station, between the stoplight under the bridge and the stoplight directly before the southbound platform. Then consider how close those last 4 stations are, and also how pointlessly long the route is from MOA to that last Park & ride.

VAStationDude
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Re: LRT Disappointments

Postby VAStationDude » May 1st, 2014, 9:02 am

I'm sure the driver was aware of the announcement problems, btw. Pointing it out probably just increased her level of annoyance.

IllogicalJake
Target Field
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Re: LRT Disappointments

Postby IllogicalJake » May 1st, 2014, 9:34 am

VAStationDude wrote:I'm sure the driver was aware of the announcement problems, btw. Pointing it out probably just increased her level of annoyance.
Don't the drivers control that? I believe so, but if that's not the case, then I'm curious. If the driver's aware, they are fully capable of making announcements to the train. Rather than letting a sign say "Nicollet Mall" when I'm at "Downtown East" and letting it stand, why not do something, anything, to correct it? Why be happy with good enough? It's only two stations off, let the people figure it out on their own?

I've encountered it three times in a month, all during morning rush. If nobody else has, then maybe it's not as common as it feels to me.
I really think you're being over dramatic or had an out of the ordinary experience.
I love the LRT. I'm a huge proponent of it. I'm not here to be over-dramatic about the problems, I'm here to state the problems I've experienced and to know if they're common. Maybe it's becoause I'm mostly in the downtown zone. I really don't know, I'm looking for feedback.

If the comment is just "you're overdramatic," then fine, I guess I'm overdramatic for experiencing these problems and sharing them. If you're saying I'm making it up... then feel free to think that my goal is to make things up just to come complain on UrbanMSP. I have more things to do than that.
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HiawathaGuy
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Re: LRT Disappointments

Postby HiawathaGuy » May 1st, 2014, 10:04 am

IllogicalJake wrote:I love the LRT. I'm a huge proponent of it. I'm not here to be over-dramatic about the problems, I'm here to state the problems I've experienced and to know if they're common. Maybe it's becoause I'm mostly in the downtown zone. I really don't know, I'm looking for feedback.
I have experienced these same issues over the years in my use of the Blue Line as well. It can be annoying and very frustrating at times. But I try to remind myself that Metro Transit is doing the best they can with the resources they get. That doesn't always make me content, nor should it. So I make sure that I call them or log issues just like you've mentioned on their website. I waited for over 30 min one morning at -12 on the platform by my house, before walking back home and taking my car, because trains were delayed. The message boards said "trains are delayed approximately 10 minute", and after 10 min (because that message truly means nothing, when service is every 10 min...) a person came over the intercom and said trains were delayed 20 min. Again, no context, no explanation. So I called Metro Transit and complained.

We all should do that when we see things that don't add up to a good transit experience. Trains overly delayed, bad service, graffiti, urine-stained elevators, inappropriate behavior. It's up to us to help solve the problems they face.

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VAStationDude
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Re: LRT Disappointments

Postby VAStationDude » May 1st, 2014, 10:18 am

Dude, chill. I'm sure if the driver could hit a button and correct the station announcements, they would. Unless the entire PA system was inoperable, the drivers should make the announcements (I've been on trains where the drivers are making announcements). Like Hiawathaguy suggested, complain to Metrotransit, not to the driver. Service was bad over the winter but when it's fifteen below, I can't blame them at all. That they even keep the trains running at all during extreme winter conditions is a testament to how well the line works overall.

Personally, I find the condition of the Lake Street Station the most frustrating part of the blue line. I've been on the platforms while they're cleaning and the cleaners really half ass it. The announcement thing is a little annoying. If they are blind people getting off at the wrong stops because of it, that's infuriating, unless the announcement system was inoperable.

MSPtoMKE
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Re: LRT Disappointments

Postby MSPtoMKE » May 1st, 2014, 10:36 am

I have not had a lot of problems with trains running off schedule (when I bother to actually check), but I have witnessed trains with the wrong destination twice in the last week or so. If it was a glitch with the system, the operator should have done manual announcements. The first time the announcements and the destination sign was wrong from the Mall of America until near the airport. If I was unfamiliar with the system, I would be pretty pissed if I boarded a train in the wrong direction because of an incorrect destination sign. Seems like I am not the only person to notice this problem recently. The second time I saw it I was downtown and saw a southbound train displaying Target Field as the destination, so I don't know if they made announcements.

Also, the Siemens LRVs display Target Field as the northbound destination, but the Bombardiers display Downtown Minneapolis, even the ones with upgraded color displays. That's just inconsistent.

Also Warehouse District/Hennepin Ave hasn't been the terminal station in years:
Image
to Warehouse/Hennepin Ave by MSPdude, on Flickr
I assume those signs will be fixed when they install Green Line signage...

OK, done ranting...
My flickr photos.

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Nathan
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Re: LRT Disappointments

Postby Nathan » May 1st, 2014, 10:47 am

Taking the Blue to and from MSP last week The displays never said the accurate stop that we were coming up to. One time it just wasn't displaying stuff and the other it was always two behind, displayed where we had already been. I mean I'm observant and know the surrounding areas but for out of towers or people who aren't paying as much attention I could easily see people getting off at the wrong stops.

HiawathaGuy
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Re: LRT Disappointments

Postby HiawathaGuy » May 1st, 2014, 10:54 am

This clearly tells me they must be working on upgrading something... there are just too many examples of this happening lately for it to just be happenstance. I'm not sure why they can't tell that this is happening... but yet another reason Metro Transit needs to hear from us when things like this are occurring. Whether they know or not, without people holding them accountable, things don't get better.

I have been on several trains over the years where the engineer actually does change the station announcements manually from their area, jumping through several station announcements to get it to the correct one. So I know it can be done. I'm just not sure they have a lot of 'extra time' to worry about those things. Again, that's not an excuse, just reality. Their focus should be on safety & staying on time.

IllogicalJake
Target Field
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Re: LRT Disappointments

Postby IllogicalJake » May 1st, 2014, 10:56 am

VAStationDude wrote:Dude, chill.
I think you're reading too much into my posts. I'm only here to have a discussion of other experiences, and I don't seem to be alone. I don't mean for it to be anything more than discussing some of the shortfalls of MetroTransit. On the driver note, I calmly tried to tell the driver as she was waiting for passengers to exit while her window was open. That's all. I think you're interpreting that as me banging on the driver's door. :)

I'm new to using lightrail. If making a mention to the driver is the wrong thing to do, then I understand.
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holmstar
Nicollet Mall
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Re: LRT Disappointments

Postby holmstar » May 1st, 2014, 12:53 pm

I have been on several trains over the years where the engineer actually does change the station announcements manually from their area, jumping through several station announcements to get it to the correct one. So I know it can be done.
If they are capable of adjusting the station announcement, then it either means that they don't realize it's off, aren't trained on how to fix it, or don't care. All of those things are issues in my opinion, and should be resolved.

IllogicalJake
Target Field
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Re: LRT Disappointments

Postby IllogicalJake » May 1st, 2014, 4:05 pm

MSPtoMKE wrote:I have not had a lot of problems with trains running off schedule (when I bother to actually check), but I have witnessed trains with the wrong destination twice in the last week or so. If it was a glitch with the system, the operator should have done manual announcements. The first time the announcements and the destination sign was wrong from the Mall of America until near the airport. If I was unfamiliar with the system, I would be pretty pissed if I boarded a train in the wrong direction because of an incorrect destination sign. Seems like I am not the only person to notice this problem recently. The second time I saw it I was downtown and saw a southbound train displaying Target Field as the destination, so I don't know if they made announcements.

OK, done ranting...
Hey, I was clicking through your photos and found this here:

Image

That box with the digital display on the right side? That's the station announcement controls (you can actually read it at larger sizes.) So the driver, theoretically, should be able to tell what announcements are playing and when they're incorrect. Maybe it's lack of training or just lack of awareness, but I don't like seeing problems that can cause headaches for people new to the city and unfamiliar with stops.
i talk too much. web dev, downtown. admin @ tower.ly

John21
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Re: LRT Disappointments

Postby John21 » May 1st, 2014, 5:43 pm

Yeah, the on-time performance was pretty bad this winter. Even on "nice" days. I also had a couple times where a train was supposedly delayed 10-15 minutes and it ended up being a half hour. I think it would be best to overestimate the delay. I would've taken a bus in both cases had I had a realistic time given. Oh well, hopefully NexTrip starts working soon.

dingo
Metrodome
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Re: LRT Disappointments

Postby dingo » May 1st, 2014, 10:29 pm

Would it be that hard to have all of the trains on a map dot system like you are driving? A bunch of colored dots moving on the line back and forth. I would love to see where all of the trains are as our system grows.

( i swear that im not writing this just because Im obessed with the transit game from the anything goes forum)

Chava
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Re: LRT Disappointments

Postby Chava » May 2nd, 2014, 8:28 am

I'm fairly new to the city and new to Metrotransit, so I share the OP's frustration. That being said, I'm happy to be able to zoom(for an hour) to work without hopping in my car. However, I think the announcements and signage are fair game. That's pretty serious stuff for those who are visually impaired, and for those out of towners trying to take LRT transit. I've stayed at hotels here quite a bit in the last few months and I heard dozens of out of towners excited to use LRT to get back and forth from the airport. We're doing everyone a huge disservice to everyone by ignoring these problems, or telling people to suck it up.

I agree that the best thing to do is to complain to Metrotransit. Give them an earful on twitter, they will respond. I have brought several things to their attention and they have made changes as best they could. If they're strapped for resources, then having thousands of eyes and ears reporting issues to them will help immensely. Be loud, be feisty, and hold them accountable. Never settle.

I'm looking forward to the opening of the green line in a little more than a month. It should cut down on my commute time, I hope. Having lived in Chicago my entire life, I know new lines and services changes can operate inconsistently at inception. Give them a month to work out kinks. After that, it is all fair game IMHO.

Slightly related, no LRT on nextrip? How about OMGtransit? Seems odd that there is no GPS on LRT which seems way more advanced technology wise than a bus.

Chava
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Re: LRT Disappointments

Postby Chava » May 2nd, 2014, 8:30 am

dingo wrote:Would it be that hard to have all of the trains on a map dot system like you are driving? A bunch of colored dots moving on the line back and forth. I would love to see where all of the trains are as our system grows.

( i swear that im not writing this just because Im obessed with the transit game from the anything goes forum)
Love this idea. Really handy when traveling on subway in NYC. Newer trains in Chicago have it too.

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FISHMANPET
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Re: LRT Disappointments

Postby FISHMANPET » May 2nd, 2014, 8:49 am

Whoever runs UrbanMSP's twitter (is that Nick?) actually messaged @MetroTransitMN and pointed them at this thread, and they said they'd look into it.

And no Nextrip on LRT's is a weird oversight. OMGTransit can't get the data, because the data doesn't exist yet. But they're working on it.

HuskyGrad
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Re: LRT Disappointments

Postby HuskyGrad » May 2nd, 2014, 8:54 am

FISHMANPET wrote:And no Nextrip on LRT's is a weird oversight. OMGTransit can't get the data, because the data doesn't exist yet. But they're working on it.
My understanding there was some issue with a vendor when the original line was built. Last I heard NexTrip for trains is planned to go live in July.

Edit:
2014 MetroTransit Work Plan
http://metrocouncil.org/Council-Meeting ... bined.aspx
Last edited by HuskyGrad on May 2nd, 2014, 10:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

Silophant
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Re: LRT Disappointments

Postby Silophant » May 2nd, 2014, 9:04 am

Really? They've left it broken for how many years, planning to fix it when the Green Line opened, and now they're still going to miss the opening?


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