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The bus stops here — and here and here and here

MinnPost file photo by Corey Anderson
Frequent bus stops make for sluggish travel.

When I was in high school, I had to take a city bus from Hennepin Avenue and Kenwood Parkway (an intersection a couple of blocks north of the Walker Art Center that no longer exists) to Cedar Lake Road and France Avenue in St. Louis Park. The bus wound through Kenwood stopping on every single block, and often, only one passenger got on or off. The trip seemed to take forever, and by the time I got where I was going, I was queasy from the bus’ stops and starts and lurchings — and ready to scream with frustration.

Surely the trip would be shorter if the bus stopped only at every second corner, I reasoned. Couldn’t some of my fellow passengers walk an extra block and make the trip more convenient for the rest of us?

Well, the idea wasn’t so juvenile after all.

In a study published in the Journal of Public Transportation last spring, professor Edmund Zolnik and grad student Ranjay Shrestha projected what would happen if they hypothetically eliminated some stops in a bus system in Fairfax, Va.   

It would be nice to report that Zolnik and Shrestha had conducted their experiment with a major urban bus system. Instead, their lab rat was the rather limited CUE (City-University-Energysaver) system, which connects local residents and students at George Mason with the Vienna, Va., metro stop. Still, the findings were pretty stunning. By getting rid of 43 percent of the stops, they could cut travel time by 23 percent.

Maddening slowness

There are plenty of reasons for people to complain about bus service. It can be inconvenient, crowded and unreliable because of the unpredictability of traffic. But what really bugs a lot of people is its maddening slowness.

Frequent bus stops make for sluggish travel. The bus has to decelerate, stop, open the doors to let passengers on and off, close the doors, then get up to speed again. A block later, the process repeats. Zolnik estimated that slowing down and getting up to speed took up 26 percent of travel time.  

The researchers used some complicated demographic and population data to help them decide which bus stops could be ditched. But basically, they determined as I had back in high school that people could walk a little further. Nationally, about 80 percent of bus riders walk only a quarter mile to reach their bus stops. (That’s about two-and-a-half blocks in Minneapolis.)

Increasing the distance to a half mile allowed researchers to do away with 68 bus stops and cut travel time from 2 hours and 4 minutes to 1 hour and 26 minutes. Access to the system did diminish but only by about 10 percent. About 90 percent of the riders previously served were within a half-mile of a stop. Some who fell out did so because they had previously been within a quarter mile of two bus stops.

Presumably, the shorter travel time would not only benefit current riders but also attract new ones. And researchers estimated that having fewer stops on the CUE lines would cut the cost of running each bus from $108.70 per trip to $82.82. Because the speed of the buses would increase from 13 to 17 miles per hour, green-house gas emissions would drop. CO2, as one example, would be one-third lower.

Too good?

It all sounds too good to be true, and maybe it would be in a big-city bus system like ours.

First, most of the people living in and around George Mason University are young, healthy students. Walking another couple of blocks to get to a bus stop probably wouldn’t bother them much. For the elderly, who will make up an increasing portion of our metropolitan population, however, the extra distance could rule out bus-riding as a transportation alternative. And because older folks aren’t commuting to a job or school, as most bus riders do, speed is not their highest priority. Another consideration: climate. Virginia has fairly mild weather; while in the Twin Cities having to regularly navigate another quarter mile or so in below-zero temperatures is pretty punishing.  

Still, transportation planners might be able to calibrate some of these problems. Maybe buses could make more stops in winter months. Perhaps demographic studies could show areas where there are substantial concentrations of the elderly. And, of course, Metro Transit could simply experiment with fewer stops out on a few bus lines.

The Twin Cities have a big mass-transit agenda, with light rail, bus rapid transit and streetcars on the to-do list. But the workhorse of the system is, and will continue to be, the humble bus. Metro Transit right now is in the process of developing a Service Improvement Plan. Its purpose is to figure out what should be done to boost the bus system over the next 10 to 15 years. (You can add your two cents by responding to the survey.) So far, customers have a pretty expensive wish list, including improvement in core urban bus routes, more suburb-to-suburb bus connections, more cross-town bus routes and more express bus service and increased speed.

But with all that, it wouldn’t hurt us to consider something easy. In the case of local bus service, a little less might be a little more.

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Comments (24)

  1. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 01/21/2014 - 10:07 am.

    Spot on. This is why I can’t believe various assertions that places like uptown, with heavy bus ridership, would prefer this to light rail. The lurching, swaying, slamming-on-brakes, pulling over every minute, etc, makes it hard to enjoy the trip, let alone do anything productive like reading. Contrast this to the smoothness, predictability, and speed of light rail, and it’s no contest. Finally, in an era of burgeoning obesity, we should point out that walking a few blocks is a benefit, not a curse.

  2. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 01/21/2014 - 10:45 am.

    A thousand times yes

    Much like the author, I’ve been complaining about it for years. My only conclusion is that it’s the result of good-hearted and well-intentioned tree-hugging liberals (of which I include myself) running the bus system as a charity by making sure it’s accessible to absolutely everyone, while cars get off free by only having to work for sighted, able adults (and yet we don’t balk at spending tax money on roads). If we want a significant number of people commuting by bus, then we need to aim for the average person in that population and not the very least able. And we need to be willing to pay for better services for those who truly cannot walk three blocks to get to a bus stop (and remember that we’d be saving money on stop maintenance, gas, and increasing ridership). This is probably the easiest and cheapest way to make buses faster and more popular, and we could do it almost over night.

  3. Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 01/21/2014 - 11:01 am.

    Bus Shelters

    I don’t know how many stops currently have bus shelters, but more shelters with fewer stops might be a net gain for both those riding and those waiting.

  4. Submitted by kevin terrell on 01/21/2014 - 11:22 am.

    Obviously

    I spent a lot of time in high school in Germany, where buses never stop at every corner. A rather different experience from riding my #4 (or any other bus) here in Minneapolis. This solution is so obvious to that it boggles the mind that it is not implemented here. While you are at it, you could make sure there are carve outs in the curb for buses to pull over out of the way of traffic. This all would also partially solve the problem of car drivers hating buses because they slow down traffic so much.

  5. Submitted by Richard Molby on 01/21/2014 - 11:25 am.

    21 vs. 53

    All you have to do to become a believer in this study is compare riding the 21 to riding the 53 on Lake Street between Uptown Transit and Midtown Commons. If I’m heading west (and the 53 is running) I’ll let 2-3 21s pass just to ride the 53 instead. Why Metro Transit doesn’t get out in front of this and offer more limited stop busses throughout the day on heavy routes is a mystery (there shave been dozens of times where I’m on a 21 in the middle of the afternoon and it’s standing room only, so the problem isn’t low-ridership on these routes during “non-peak” hours).

  6. Submitted by Bill Coleman on 01/21/2014 - 11:35 am.

    Agree!

    It seems an easy choice to cut half of the bus stops in most of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Stop at only the even numbered blocks. At most, people would be only one block farther from a stop.

  7. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 01/21/2014 - 11:58 am.

    I’ve been visiting Japan for over thirty years

    and when I lived there in the 1970s, their superb network of subways, surface trains, and buses was already more or less in place, but about a decade ago, they became acutely aware of their aging population, and I began to notice that neighborhoods with high concentrations of older people now have neighborhood circulator buses. In addition, the stations are being modified with elevators increasingly available.

    But I agree that there are too many bus stops, at least along the #6, which is the route I take most often. For example, coming through Linden Hills, it stops at 44th and Xerxes, at 44th and Upton at the top of the hill, then at 43rd and Upton, then twice more before 39th and Sheridan.

    Coming south through Uptown, it stops at the Uptown Transit Center and then again in front of the Uptown Theater, literally only a block away.

    Perhaps buses could run more frequently if they didn’t make so many stops.

  8. Submitted by Sarah Jirik on 01/21/2014 - 11:59 am.

    I already walk 6 blocks

    They’ve pared down the stops significantly in the past few years and taking the bus is quite a bit more of a hassle for me, not less. I’m not elderly or obese, but because of relatively minor health issues, I’ve had to use cabs and family for rides because I couldn’t take the 6 block walk to and from the bus. Please don’t think moving the bus stop out another couple of blocks is going to encourage ridership. It’s quicker for some people, sure, but being stuck walking the last few blocks in the snow and cold is a lousy trade off. Particularly if you’re blind or disabled but your stop’s been eliminated so the guy reading could have a better experience, or because he thinks you’re fat and could do with some exercise. Both of your suggestions imply some other expensive service, light rail or metro mobility, will take care of the problems holding you back, but until those are in place, we still need the bus as it is – relatively easy to walk to and accessible.

  9. Submitted by John Mark Lucas on 01/21/2014 - 12:02 pm.

    Transit Riders Agree

    At a recent Transportation Committee meeting for St Paul District 12, we made the same request to Metro Transit services planners regarding our local route #3. Bus travel times impact not just the rider experience but also other elements of the transit network. It could be a win-win scenario for all. As pointed out, quicker bus turnaround could result in fewer buses serving a route, or improved service frequency. Fewer stops would also mean more resources will be available to upgrade the stops and shelters we keep. Metro transit has a minimum number of boarding and alighting movements required before they provide a shelter. Concentrating ridership could trigger this and therefore result in a shelter being required and improved waiting conditions. There are a lot of potential benefits to offset increased walking distance for some. Also, with more people walking, this could be a catalyst for improving our pedestrian network. Another win! The service planners promised to work with us to investigate our request.

  10. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 01/21/2014 - 12:44 pm.

    yes

    Even eliminating every other stop on routes with frequent stops would only increase the distance to a bus stop by 1 to 2 blocks. That’s far less than an additional quarter mile. It would decrease travel time and increase fuel economy. Two big plusses. For areas with high elderly or disabled riders, stops could remain the same.

    Overall, the bus system needs a close look to see whether it is servicing the most effectively. It’s ridiculous that most people would have to travel through a downtown for HOURS to get to another suburb, even the most urban of them. A smart rail system combined with local bus routes would be most ideal, but until some reasonable consensus is reached on light rail (maybe never), the bus system needs scrutiny and probably an overhaul.

  11. Submitted by David Markle on 01/21/2014 - 12:50 pm.

    Transit modes and transit stops

    Currently there’s much discussion about buses, BRT, streetcars and LRT. When considering changes and possible improvements in public transportation, it’s crucial to remember the functional differences between these different means of transit.
    Ordinary bus lines on the street, such as the No. 16 on University Avenue, tend to have many stops and serve ordinary pasengers throughout the day, including the handicapped. Typical modern streetcar lines are an equivalent though very likely more attractive mode. Bus lines with fewer (limited) stops may also run on busy routes, an example being the No. 50 on University Avenue, which has a less frequent but slightly faster schedule than No. 16.
    BRT (bus rapid transit) and LRT are typically suited to arterial routes to and from the central cities, an example being the Hiawatha LRT which travels at relatively high speed (except in downtown Minneapolis), has a high capacity and is well suited to efficiently move commuters.
    Unfortunately local planners and leaders seem ignorant or confused about these differences, as shown in the January 18th op-ed in the Star Tribune by legislators Osmek and Runbeck who obviously don’t appreciate how streetcars differ functionally from BRT. Unfortunately the Central Corridor LRT provides a glaring example, where neither the St. Paul City Council, the Ramsey County Board nor the Met Council understood that putting a train on a busy street would undermine the purpose and value of having a train and generally provide poorer service than the present bus system. Other problems also resulted, including a loss of 1,000 parking spaces.
    As a result of the bad choice of route (as opposed to I-94/Soo Line) or lack of tunnel, we’ll have a train that runs at about the same overall speed as the No. 16 bus, but with 47 fewer places to get on and off! If St. Paul wanted rails on the street, a modern streetcar line would have cost approximately 1/3 of LRT, cheaper even without federal money. And in an apparent effort to get riders for the LRT, authorities plan to eliminate No. 50 and dramatically reduce both No. 16 and freeway express bus service. Too bad if you’re handicapped and face the choice of rolling your wheelchair a half mile or more to the LRT station or else waiting up to a half hour longer for the bus.
    I must point out that the present Chair of the Met Council, Susan Haigh, played a key roll in putting the Central Corridor LRT on the least appropriate of the three routes considered, University Avenue, when she served on the Ramsey Regional Rail Authority Board.
    Unless these differences and consequences are well understood, we will continue to have a mediocre transit system.

    • Submitted by Richard O'Neil on 01/25/2014 - 12:38 pm.

      Talk about a boondoggle! There must be approx 20 stops between downtown St Paul and Mpls. But the concrete has been poured and the rails are in place. So, isn’t this too late? I wonder how any of the businesses and shops on University will survive.

  12. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/21/2014 - 01:37 pm.

    One more thing

    I’m nodding my head in agreement with the previous comments, even when a couple of them contradict each other, but one possibility seems to have been only lightly touched upon. That’s the “circulater” or “collector” route, wherein a genuinely local bus stops frequently, but never goes downtown. Instead, its route is designed so that its destination is a transit hub (by which I mean a genuine building, not an open glass cubicle in 20 below zero). From that hub (I envision quite a few of them), buses, light rail, streetcars, etc., would depart for downtown St. Paul, Minneapolis, MOA, the airport, the Guthrie, the football palace, the X, Target Center, Hennepin Theater district, etc. Those lines would have limited (in several cases, zero) stops, and the goal would be relatively rapid transit from the hub to the destination.

    I use transit only to Target Field for the occasional Twins game, and for that I ride the North Star line. The bus system here is far too slow, too complex, and too limited in service to be of use to me, though obviously a lot of people ride it anyway – likely in spite of the obstacles. Every bus stop, no matter how many there are, should provide clear, accurate information about what buses stop there, where they’ve been, where they’re going, and when. At the stops in my neighborhood, none of that information is available. The only information provided to prospective riders by the signs is what route stops there. For those with mobile devices, that might be enough, but many don’t have such devices (and perhaps never will), so there’s essentially no information available at the bus stop that’s useful.

    Hindsight is often 20/20, of course, but I’d just arrived here when decisions about the light rail route between Minneapolis and St. Paul were being finalized. I confess I paid no attention – I was still trying to figure out my own neighborhood, much less transit to other cities. A few years later, I’m inclined to agree with David Markle, at least about the light rail connection. A streetcar down the middle of University would make sense. Light rail does not. It will, of necessity, be severely speed-and-stop-limited, and the I-94/Soo Line seems in hindsight to have been a better choice. Too late now, of course, which is why more attention to side effects ought to be paid when planning these things.

  13. Submitted by chuck holtman on 01/21/2014 - 03:43 pm.

    Agree with commenters. Ms Harris, did you ask Metro Transit?

    I asked this precise question to the Metro Transit scheduling manager about 10 years ago, and he said that studies showed that folks won’t walk an extra block for a bus.

    Three more suggestions:

    (1) Locate bus stops after the intersection, not before. Locating before the intersection as at present almost guarantees that the bus will need to wait thru two cycles of every light, and creates uncertainty/hazard for cars/bikes from behind who wish to turn right, in front of the bus.

    (2) On high-frequency routes, eliminate those pauses that are solely not to get ahead of schedule at intermediate stops. On such routes, I don’t consult a schedule, I just go there and assume I’ll wait somewhere between zero and 12 minutes for a bus.

    (3) Educate and, as needed, BERATE passengers to enter in the front, EXIT TO THE REAR (except when crowding makes it impossible).

  14. Submitted by Keith Morris on 01/21/2014 - 07:34 pm.

    Amateur Hour

    The fact that there are so many stops only a block apart from each other for several blocks proves just how amateur, inexperienced, and unqualified certain planners are over at Metro Transit. You know what other city has a similar setup for bus stops and stations? Columbus, OH and having lived there and relied on COTA when I had to due to poor biking weather it was awful; it took forever to travel a relatively short stretch due to, duh, too many back to back bus stops every block. On top of that it has only a fraction of high-frequency routes with much a much looser definition of “high-fequency” (they don’t even designate the three lines that would qualify as such). Oh, and no rail transit whatsoever and bike lanes almost as non-existent. Even so, in a 2011 Brookings Institute study Columbus ranked 45 out of 100 and Minneapolis, despite its overall much more forward-thinking approach to car alternatives only ranked slightly above at 39. I think running buses in similar fashion has a lot to do with our rankings being much closer than they should be.

    http://www.brookings.edu/about/programs/metro/jobs-and-transit/metro-profiles

    As for the comment about this being the work of liberals trying to accommodate everyone, I think a stronger case would be made that this is a case of conservatives doing a bang up job to “prove” how inefficient buses are by purposefully slowing bus routes down a great deal more than they would otherwise run and use that to justify not raising the amount we can legally spend on mass transit because: look at how slow it is!

  15. Submitted by G Pleak on 01/21/2014 - 09:08 pm.

    Should the Bus or the Buck Stop Here?

    Dear Ms. Harris:

    I appreciate reading your opinion pages because your thoughtful commentary reflects your genuine concern for the betterment of our community. In spite of those occasions when you have chosen to prop up elliptical arguments with trivial citations, I continue to find your work engaging. At the very least, I am pleased that the MinnPost offers (at not cost to the readers!) voices like yours so that public concerns may be given a new or an alternative examination.

    I am not an exceptional person. Yet, I’ve chosen to add my voice to your recent commentary as public transportation is something that is not only vital to me but impacts the lives of so many individuals and families that seemed to have escaped your consideration. I realize that you have tried to provide a sympathetic stance on this occasion. Unfortunately, your short-sightedness and privileged status make your sympathies ring hollow and your presumed helpfulness nothing more than elitist babble. Were I your editor, I may have suggested that you revise the title of this piece to “The Buck Stops Here — As Long as Its Not Too Close to Me.”

    I am not an exceptional person. Yet, I know first-hand what it means for individuals to have to make sacrifices in order to function in their daily lives. I am thankful to live in a community that provides an adequate system of public transportation, and I feel fortunate that I can afford to utilize that resource on a daily basis. The many hours I’ve spent commuting has also furnished countless opportunities and/or occasions to benefit from the diversity of other individuals in a shared environment and/or experience. Using MetroTransit, in spite of all of its many detractions or shortfalls, benefits my life. And, in that regard, I’m not exceptional. Unfortunately, those seemingly well-intentioned self-appointed visionaries who seek redesigns based on limited tangental experience or outsider suppositions/hypotheses can never really appreciate or account for the daily miracle of functional transportation within our metropolitan area.

    I am not an exceptional person. Yet, my common experience informs my attitudes. I — for socioeconomic reasons — do not own a car. I’ve relied on MetroTransit for over 14 years. My work and obligations over the years have required that I take frequent, routine trips as close as to Uptown or as far flung as to Minnetonka, Plymouth, Edina, Veteran’s Hospital, the MSP International airport, Brooklyn Center, or downtown St. Paul. I’ve taken (and continue to take) routings that involve a mix of low-frequency and high-frequency stops. None of those routings are without the considerable sacrifices of time or convenience. It’s amazing how much time and distance it takes to get from here to there and back again via MetroTransit. In fact, it can often be maddening — particularly if the only routing is composed of buses that operate on a limited frequency and necessitate budgeting an extra hour or two out of one’s day. Nevertheless, for those unexceptional ‘others’ like me who need to take those kinds of routings, the terms “ease” and “easy” seem irrelevant. We’re making the best of the circumstances. We’re doing whatever it takes to make it work for us. So, please don’t presume that your idealized notions for “improvement” — regardless of a chorus of consensus — will actually, in real-life terms, benefit any other than those who merely dabble in taking buses/trams.

    I am not an exceptional person. I, like the many other regular riders I see every day, currently make the long commute from St. Louis Park/Uptown to St. Paul for my livelihood. This necessitates taking three buses (two transfers) and allotting between 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes (depending on the time of day) for the commute one-way. But, I’m not complaining. I, like all the other riders, make the adjustments. Sure, it’d be ideally “easy” to hop in a car (that is if one could afford a car or the $40 taxi fare) and drive the ±18 miles and get there, even during peak rush hour, in ± 20 minutes. But, for me, like the majority of public transportation users, that’s not feasible. “Ease” may seem to be a part of “f-eas-ible,” but spelling cannot account for the actual denotations for every day living in the Twin Cities.

    Coincidentally, you, Ms. Harris, and I are not that exceptional. I, too, have used the #25 bus between downtown Minneapolis and its terminus at France Avenue South and Minnetonka Boulevard. I live on the #17 route a few blocks west of France Avenue in St. Louis Park. It is an empirical fact that taking the shorter #25L route saves me only 3 minutes (including the six-blocks walking time) over taking the longer #17C/D routes. The #17 makes more frequent stops and carries a higher volume of travelers. The #25 via Kenwood — a corridor of posh residences off the beaten path — carries fewer riders and only operates during peak commuter hours in the mornings or evenings. Clearly, it is designed to be an exclusive conveyance for a very narrow (and, dare I say, elitist) demographic. If one feels inconvenienced by the quirks of the #25’s navigation of the warren of short streets and winding avenues along the Chain of Lakes, then I suggest that that individual take the more frequent and populous #17 and make the surely “easy” hike to one’s final destination. Or, perhaps one might test the relative “ease” of getting to the Kenwood area or to, say, the north end of Lake of the Isles during any midday. Because there is no bus service in that area during those hours, one must sacrifice the time it takes to walk the more than 1/4 mile from the nearest MetroTransit bus that makes frequent stops on Hennepin Avenue or Lake Street. But, enjoy the walk! It’s healthy, right!?

    I am not exceptional. Despite the fact that I have over 20 years of reliance on public transportation — not only here but in metropolitan areas like Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Amsterdam (the Netherlands), and Omaha (Nebraska) — I am not that unusual in the 21st century. If anything, then that experience allows me the not-so-unique perspective wherein the term “ease” becomes properly relegated to its highly subjective and relatively meaningless status as an indicator of individual and/or public benefit.

    I am not exceptional. I could digress further into waxing about public transportation functionality in terms of weather-ism, health-ism, eco-ism, traffic-ism, etc. But, those broad categories do not give any pass or ease to the more significant, on-the-ground, socioeconomic and/or populist factors. Nor would I dare to presume my needs as being a citizen within the Southwest Corridor are exceptional enough to sway the prevailing politicized “wisdom” of those who have designs to make moving within the corridor more “easy.” I do not have a grant from the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative or backing from the McKnight Foundation to afford me the exceptional opportunity to engage in banter about the assumed public good that speculatively arises out of public initiative. I am, like the majority Us — unexceptional. I can only suggest that, unless one becomes like the majority of unexceptional individuals who tailor their lives, in part, to navigating the most reasonable or expedient bus routing, irrelevancies and misrepresentations in the privileged name of the “public good” will crowd out any meaningful innovations.

    The demographics of public transportation only continue to grow in all areas of the world, and we here are not exceptional. Eventually, the public discourse that you, Ms. Harris, rightfully encourage will need to acknowledge that public transportation is less about maintaining a regional stasis and more about traversing and transmuting socioeconomic mobility.

    Perhaps, in the end, we will come to acknowledge our unexceptional commonality: our public transportation transportation system is inherently like any/all other public transportation systems throughout the world. Despite our well-intentioned interventions, moving people from-here-to-there is not inherently “easy” because of it’s essential civic nature. We are divergent peoples. We all are moving in different directions within the same space and time. That we move with individualized intentionality yet manage to come together for the collective good makes public transportation just that much more miraculous. Let’s not distract ourselves with pie-in-the-sky speculations but keep ourselves grounded in meeting the very real needs and demands that ultimately shape our transportation network and our regional identity.

    Despite our unexceptional differences, Ms. Harris, I am thankful for the opportunity to add my voice to the conversation. And, I extend my gratitude to you and the MinnPost for continuing to provide provocative writing that, in the end, benefits us all in countless ways.

    With every best regard,
    ~ Greg

  16. Submitted by Bjorn Awel on 01/22/2014 - 09:14 am.

    I’m surprised the article doesn’t mention the arterial bus service upgrades the Metro Transit has explored — and i believe a first corridor for snelling ave is in the governor’s bonding list for this session.
    http://www.metrotransit.org/arterial-study

  17. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/22/2014 - 09:46 am.

    And to add to Mr. Pleak’s observation

    I enjoyed reading Mr. Pleak, but his post could have been a tad shorter.

    My comment, and it kind of goes to Mr. Pleak’s point, is that by definition busses fill a hole in an already crappy transit system her in the US. Getting yuppies downtown in a hurry is not the function of this system and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. ( Thats right, I said: “yuppies”). I’m reading all this whining about the frustration the rough rides and what not… Do you think sitting in rush hour traffic on 394 (the other way of getting downtown from St. Louis Park) is less frustrating? Look, I got through college doing half my reading on those buss’s, if you can’t read on a bus you got some kind of other problem. As for the frustration, I’m sorry but your attitude is easier to adjust than the bus route, and a lot cheaper. Some people act like a bus ride is some of kind tour of Dante’s inferno. I don’t know what buss’s you people are riding but the ones I’ve ridden were just a little cramped on occasion. I’ve ridden all kinds of buss’s all over the world and our buss’s no different. At least you don’t have someone’s chicken on your lap.

    The whole idea that you want to eliminate or complicate transit options for others so you can speed up your own ride flies in the face of the whole notion of public transportation.

    Now if you want add routes with fewer stops great, but we have to pay for that and for decades Republicans have been trying to kill public transportation in any form from Amtrak to MTC. Instead of decreasing access for others, spend the money and expand the system where needed. The idea of hubs where faster buss’s can run is fine. I would add however that speed ought to be a premium that people pay for so maybe the fairs on those “fast” routes should be a tad higher, especially if you want them to run all day.

  18. Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 01/22/2014 - 02:34 pm.

    Fewer stops!

    Although I lived in car-happy Los Angeles, there were times when I’d have to take the bus because the car was in the shop. To get home from work I had to transfer at a point about halfway there. Unfortunately, the transfer only allowed about a two-minute window, so if even one passenger got on my bus and held up the driver by asking routing questions or quibbling about the fare, chances were I’d miss my connection and have to sit there for another hour. I’d have liked to sit behind the driver and slap anyone who dared to approach him but that wasn’t really practical.

  19. Submitted by Adam Platt on 01/22/2014 - 11:34 pm.

    Mental Masturbation

    Ms. Harris works from a flawed premise–that Twin Cities bus routes stop every block. Metro Transit ripped out hundreds if not thousands of bus stops some number of years ago. Most routes today stop every other block in the city and every quarter to third of a mile in the suburbs.

    Perhaps, rather than focusing on the theoretical, she might have contacted Metro Transit to ask about their experience after eliminating all the stops.

    Then the comments. Mix too little understanding with just enough intellectual hubris and voila! Enough mental masturbation to fill a double decker bus. (Which don’t run in the Twin Cities because the air pressure here is at times so great that people on the upper level could suffer the bends.)

    A.

  20. Submitted by Craig Foster on 01/23/2014 - 01:22 pm.

    Fewer Stops?

    It’s sad this article came on a week when the temperatures are so low that everyone who actually takes the bus is extremely grateful for every block they can get dropped off closer to their destination (i.e. not those who fondly remember taking it back when and therefore understand and can speak for the bus riding population). You might be able to cut travel time for buses down when you remove stops, but for bus riders you would be increasing travel time with the extra walking distance and the greater likelihood of missing the bus. If you aren’t happy to share your route with other passengers and lament that the bus also makes life convenient for their routes, perhaps you should take a cab, Ms. Harris. I’d suggest we all carpool and get fewer cars onto the street congesting traffic, thereby lowering transit times, but I’m sure it’s quite inconvenient to make a stop at someone else’s job and coordinate with them when to leave in the afternoon.

    I’ll only take the rest of this comment to respectfully disagree with Mr. Pleak’s assertion on the 25 route. Southbound 25 from Columbia Heights to downtown serves a very different demographic, many commuters working in industrial and mid-level office jobs, than the same southbound bus after it leaves downtown and picks up the downtown office worker headed through Kenwood.

  21. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/25/2014 - 08:54 am.

    By the way, duh.

    Obviously the fewer stops a bus makes the faster it will get to it’s destination, you need to study this? Seems to me we’ve had “express” buss’s for what? 30 years?

  22. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/25/2014 - 08:59 am.

    by the way…

    Marlys, for those of us who actually lived in St. Louis Park, getting to school was a lot easier. The school buses were a rough ride, but they were pretty fast.

  23. Submitted by errol mohan on 01/28/2014 - 01:41 pm.

    downtowns

    The downtowns bus stops are excessive .There are 4 stops within 3 blocks between 2nd Av to Henn on 4th St
    Henn Ave has 3 stops between lake and 28th .

    St Paul has 5 stops along Minnesota st.
    Wabasha 2 stops less than 1/2 block the one infront of MACY is across the street from 6th st.
    The bus also rob the cities of revenue from parking with excessive stops.

    For people with limited mobilty they can make accomadation for them stop near their destinations.
    To speed up boarding use only Go To card with a surcharge for transfer people paying with cash to encourage GoTo card.exist by back doors will save time except in the winter when there are snowbanks

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