MINNEAPOLIS - It was the kind of night made for mass transit.
Four sporting events and a State Fair grandstand show all took place in the Twin Cities on Thursday, making for a perfect storm for traffic congestion and the perfect opportunity for many fans to catch the bus or light rail.
“Great means of transportation and you don’t have to sit in traffic," said Randy Katrin who used transit to take in the Twins game with his wife, Breanne, and the Gophers football game later.
“It’s just one less headache you have to deal with," said Jason Mitchell, who took the light rail to catch both the Twins and Vikings with his daughter Caleaya.
But that peace of mind for many fans, requires keeping tabs on a lot of moving pieces behind the scenes.
"It’s puzzle every day," said Jim Chisholm, assistant manager for the Metro Transit Communications Center.
On Thursday the communications kept track of more than 850 buses and all the riders they transported.
“Dealing with on-time performance, dealing with security incidents, medical incidents," Chisholm said. "It’s a challenge."
That's particularly true during the time of year when Metro Transit has an additional 70-80 buses on the road to transport people to and from the State Fair.
“The hardest part is just having enough operators because we’re running a lot of extra work,"
Though Metro Transit coordinates light rail at a separate facility, the main command center handles transit police dispatch, meaning they are are constantly monitoring train platforms and other areas of high traffic, especially during sporting events.
And that's not all they are monitoring.
"I’m monitoring our social media feeds,” said Chris Cantoni, communications specialist for Metro Transit.
Yes, Metro Transit is even keeping tabs on Twitter, Facebook and other sites in order to answer questions and respond to concerns. Even memes are fair game.
“We respond quickly and we try to help them and they are taken aback and surprised that we’re here and responding live," Cantoni said. “There are some frustrated people out there, understandably, but we’re just trying to inform them the best we can and let them know that we’re on the case and that this room full of supervisors is working really hard to fix those problems.”
On a night when traffic slowed the trip for everyone, the main goal was a bit more simple.
“Get everyone home safely," Chisholm said.
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