The bus driver shortage is doing serious damage to Metro Transit service in southwest Minneapolis as elsewhere. Route 27 (26th/28th Streets between Hiawatha and I-35W) was suspended in October 2022, and we are getting other bus service cuts as of Dec. 3, 2022. Total cuts system wide are estimated at eight percent, which almost fits the ancient Roman definition of “decimation” – a grim thought.
Here is a list of cuts coming this winter:
• The Orange Line will be cut to once every half hour during midday weekdays instead of once every 15 minutes.
• Routes nine and 23 will be cut to once an hour when it’s not rush hour instead of once every half hour, and the 9B branch on Glenwood to Xenia Ave. in Golden Valley will be suspended.
• Route 115 will be suspended. Routes four, six, 17, and 18 are recommended as alternatives.
• Route 133, which is currently suspended, will be permanently canceled due to the only good news this season: it will be replaced by the new D Line, which is a Bus Rapid Transit line with limited stops.
Speaking of Bus Rapid Transit, the southwest area will eventually get the B and E Lines, which will supplement Routes 21 and six, providing a faster alternative. BRT has less stops than local routes, and stations with more amenities than a traditional bus stop. Other things like signal priority will help speed buses along. Tickets will be sold out of a vending machine at the station like they are for the light rail. Patrons will be able to board through any door since they will have paid before the bus gets there. This will also save time. Stations will be well-lit at night and have security call boxes. NexTrip automated signs will tell you when the next bus is coming.
Metro Transit is hiring drivers. Right now, they are paying hiring bonuses of up to $5,000, and I have information that wages are being raised significantly next year.
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