Sneak peek at the future of buses


Metro Transit has a little-known program called Better Bus Routes. The primary purpose of this program is to simplify bus routes by trimming branches (versions of a route with the same number but a different letter) and eliminating little-used stops. This also makes it possible to improve the stops that are left by having more shelters and benches, and putting a hard surface at more stops so you don’t have to stand in the mud when waiting for the bus.
This treatment was already applied to Route 2 a couple of years ago. Several stops were abolished, making the route somewhat faster. Now, Route 17 is slated for a similar treatment in August 2023. In the Southwest Connector readership area, the following stops will be eliminated: Nicollet and 22nd, Pillsbury and Harriet on 24th, Lake and Thomas, and the eastbound stop at Lake and Drew. The stop at 24th and Nicollet by McDonald’s will move around the corner to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. The stop on Lagoon at Irving will be moved one block east to Humboldt.
A few minor changes to the route will be made outside the Southwest Connector area. On the northeast side, the route will be extended a few blocks east at the end to Central, enabling connection to Route 10. In Saint Louis Park, all trips will serve both the Knollwood Target and the area on the other side of Highway 7 in both directions. Currently, the Target is only served at certain times westbound, even though it is always served eastbound. The 17F branch will no longer serve Park Glen Apartments or 36th St. It will be only used for “reverse” commuters to the business area at Beltline Blvd. and Park Glen Rd.
These changes are scheduled to take effect in August 2023.

In other news, Metro Transit is finally doing something about security issues at its transit centers and light rail stations. The indoor portion of the Uptown Transit Center has been temporarily closed, awaiting the hiring of security guards. Security will also be added to the Brooklyn Center Transit Center, the Franklin Ave. and Lake St. light rail stations, the Chicago-Lake Transit Center, and the Central light rail station in downtown Saint Paul.
Hopefully, this will help bring back ridership that has given up on buses and trains since indecorous and nefarious behavior have been making travelers uncomfortable. Commuters don’t want to have to smell pee and poop on the elevators to the light rail, or struggle to breathe through clouds of cigarette smoke, or worry about being attacked. On the other hand, I fervently hope the new security force doesn’t go back to the old extremes of harassing people for falling asleep or acting a little strange. They really should focus on stuff that really scares or bothers other travelers.
State Senator Scott Dibble proposes making the Metropolitan Council an elected body. This is a very excellent idea.


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