Our First Hybrid Meeting Was a Big Success!

On October 27, 2020, the Eden Prairie AM Rotary Club successfully navigated its first hybrid meeting.  Numerous members, including John Crudele, Roger Jorgensen, Elaine Larabee, Jenifer Loon and Prafulla Vegunta (and many others) were essential in making this happen. 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Fyten

Southwest Transit Update

First, Matt Fyten provided an overview of SouthWest Transit. SouthWest Transit is a public transit provider for Eden Prairie, Chaska, Chanhassan, Carver, and Victoria. It was formed in 1986, and it is currently governed by a commission consisting of six individuals. Before COVID-19, it operated over approximately 160 trips per day with 75 buses, and it annually provided over 1.2 million rides. SouthWest Transit’s major routes include those that bring individuals to Downtown Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota. Additionally, SouthWest Transit is considered as the national leader in innovation, technology, and transit oriented development, and, on top of that, SouthWest Transit was introduced as one of the nation’s first microtransit organizations.

 

Mr. Fyten also discussed the benefits that come with suburban transit systems. One benefit is that the innovation of SouthWest Transit influenced other regional transit systems to improve. Specifically, SouthWest Transit was the first to bring coach vehicles, microtransit, Wi-Fi, and Transit-Oriented Development to the region. Also, Southwest Transit has received great customer feedback and provides access to locations that were previously not served. Another benefit is that they are cost effective meaning suburban systems are able to provide more to commuters with less money. Overall, suburban systems better understand and provide the transit needs of their communities. 

Next, Matt Fyten presented the SouthWest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT) on Southwest Transit. SWLRT was a 3.5 year negotiation process, and the final agreement was adopted in December 2017. The needs of SouthWest Transit and Met Council were both met by the results of the agreement. Under the agreement, Southwest Transit were financially compensated to move their administrative offices, and they also received protections related to bus operations. The sites are being redesigned to support existing SouthWest Transit bus operations and the Light Rail Transit. Ultimately, the Light Rail Transit will allow for more service opportunities for SouthWest Transit and improve its efficiency. 

Additionally, Matt informed us on the impacts that COVID-19 had on SouthWest Transit. Initially, SouthWest Transit lost over 90% of their riders and a similar percentage of farebox revenue. Another impact is that they were forced to furlough or eliminate over 50% of their workforce. However, they received Federal CARES Act Funding, and they have taken numerous safety measures. These measures include disinfecting vehicles, swapping vehicles throughout the day, daily health screening of employees, passenger separators, and air purification systems.

On a more positive note, Matt Fyten spoke about some of the things that were in store for SouthWest Transit. Currently, they are working on expanding the SW Prime and Prime MD services into the 494 Corridor, Shakopee, and other surrounding communities. They are also working on electric as well as autonomous vehicles. 

Matt Fyten, AICP

Announcements:

  • Kurt was inducted into the EP AM Rotary Club in March 2020, and he received his certificate of membership and pin in the Rotary’s first hybrid meeting.

Spotlight on Steve Cwodzinski: 

Steve Cwodzinki recently released his book Beyond the Lesson Plan in February of 2020. He had originally planned to promote his book, but, unfortunately, he was unable to due to COVID-19. Beyond the Lesson Plan is full of anecdotes and the non-curriculum material that Mr. Cwodzinksi preached to every student he had.
 
 
 
Happy Fives:
  • Prafulla Vegunta was happy to see former member and president Jeanne visit the Rotary this week. Additionally, he was pleased to begin hybrid meetings for the Rotary.
  • Adam Sienkowski was happy to say that his son Jonah was born nine months ago. 
  • Brad Aho was excited to share that his youngest child, Annie, just had a baby.
  • Tim Connors was happy to share that he attended a camp celebrating diversity 47 years ago. This camp preached service before self and coming together to solve problems around the world.
  • Jane McGinty and her son were excited to share that their dog had just turned one years old.
  • PG Narayanan is proud of his daughter for passing her exams and becoming a lawyer.