Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

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SamtheBusNerd
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Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby SamtheBusNerd » October 5th, 2015, 4:35 pm

I moved to Minneapolis earlier this year and regularly use transit to commute to work in Saint Paul. One thing that's really struck me is how much money is being spent here to provide really bad bus service. There are tons and tons of bus routes but it takes longer to get from Stevens Square to Summit Hill than it does to get to Brooklyn Park, and I have to do it on buses that stop every single block.

Has Metro Transit ever done any work towards better bus stop standards and route organization for urban service? Places like Seattle, San Francisco and Houston are all doing/ have done this sort of thing and it seems to have made a huge difference. If San Francisco, the most bureaucratic place in the country, can do it why can't we?

Wedgeguy
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Re: Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby Wedgeguy » October 5th, 2015, 4:49 pm

SamtheBusNerd wrote:I moved to Minneapolis earlier this year and regularly use transit to commute to work in Saint Paul. One thing that's really struck me is how much money is being spent here to provide really bad bus service. There are tons and tons of bus routes but it takes longer to get from Stevens Square to Summit Hill than it does to get to Brooklyn Park, and I have to do it on buses that stop every single block.

Has Metro Transit ever done any work towards better bus stop standards and route organization for urban service? Places like Seattle, San Francisco and Houston are all doing/ have done this sort of thing and it seems to have made a huge difference. If San Francisco, the most bureaucratic place in the country, can do it why can't we?
Mainly because so many here think that they should be dropped off at their front door. Why the 21 has to do a jump over to University for 6 blocks is crazy. I'd like a BRT of the 21 that skipped the Midway and just went over to St. Paul on Lake and Marshall with a drop to Sebly at about Hamlin for faster trip to the Downtown.

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Nick
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Re: Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby Nick » October 5th, 2015, 6:55 pm

SamtheBusNerd wrote:I moved to Minneapolis earlier this year and regularly use transit to commute to work in Saint Paul. One thing that's really struck me is how much money is being spent here to provide really bad bus service. There are tons and tons of bus routes but it takes longer to get from Stevens Square to Summit Hill than it does to get to Brooklyn Park, and I have to do it on buses that stop every single block.

Has Metro Transit ever done any work towards better bus stop standards and route organization for urban service? Places like Seattle, San Francisco and Houston are all doing/ have done this sort of thing and it seems to have made a huge difference. If San Francisco, the most bureaucratic place in the country, can do it why can't we?
I did respond to your comment the next day on that streets.mn post last week: https://streets.mn/2015/10/01/arterial-b ... ent-156214

But yes, there is a plan to gradually improve regular route bus service:

http://www.metrotransit.org/sip

Though it may be easier to skim this spreadsheet:

http://www.metrotransit.org/Data/Sites/ ... Table2.pdf

They're also working on rolling out these new, non-bad bus stop signs:

https://streets.mn/2015/06/01/metro-tran ... p-signage/

Tcmetro
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Re: Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby Tcmetro » October 5th, 2015, 8:32 pm

Stevens Square to Summit Hill is quite a long commute by local bus, seemingly a 3 bus commute, that would take about an hour or so. The best route IMO is the 2 to the 67 to the 63. The transfers might not be ideal, as the 63 and 67 are 20 minute frequency routes.

Overall, Metro Transit has significantly improved the route structure over the past two decades and has made major strides in frequencies. Frequencies could be improved some, and more crosstown routes could be created (and as mentioned above, are in the works). Stop improvements are finally underway after years of neglect.

There are three main categories that MT is considering for BRT routes but not local routes:

1. Transit Signal Priority on local routes
2. Off-board fare payment/Go To readers in the back door
3. Bus stop consolidation and placement.

I believe that expanding these programs in conjunction with the proposed bus upgrades, the system could be far more usable.

trigonalmayhem

Re: Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby trigonalmayhem » October 6th, 2015, 6:50 am

Can't improve bus service for people who actually use it, we've got trains through the woods to parking lots to build and those aren't cheap.

trigonalmayhem

Re: Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby trigonalmayhem » October 6th, 2015, 6:53 am

On a less snarky note, though, I have no idea why there is zero consideration of dedicated bus lanes for busy urban routes that get bogged down in traffic constantly. Like it's never proposed because it's too unthinkable to put bus lanes anywhere other than a highway or a few streets downtown.

mattaudio
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Re: Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby mattaudio » October 6th, 2015, 7:21 am

^I am all for this, and think it would be one of the easiest improvements we could make for local bus service. It wouldn't always need to be a dedicated bus lane for miles, but even having dedicated bus space for a block ahead of a crowded signalized intersection would make a huge difference. Bonus points if it could be created with enhanced bus stops at the same time.

And there are definitely streets where there should be miles of bus lanes: Hennepin and/or Lyndale to start.

Tcmetro
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Re: Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby Tcmetro » October 6th, 2015, 7:36 am

Queue jumps would be nice to have. Busy streets like Hennepin, Lyndale, Central could have them. Other main lines like Nicollet, Chicago, Emerson appear to perform just fine without bus lanes.

Extending the Hennepin bus lanes from 12th St to Lake St would be a great idea. Peak service spans four routes, providing around 30 buses in the most traveled hour.

In general I think that 4 lane streets should have their parking converted to peak hour bus lanes, if 10 or more buses per hour used that street. This would really make the bus a better option than driving.

trigonalmayhem

Re: Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby trigonalmayhem » October 6th, 2015, 7:42 am

Those things on hennepin downtown aren't bus lanes. When you have zero enforcement and it's used like a normal traffic lane by everyone it's not a bus lane.

Also why the hell did they detour all the nicollet buses on third without swapping the outside lanes to bus only for the duration?

Because they're afraid of real and properly enforced bus lanes here, of course. Won't someone think of the drivers!

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Silophant
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Re: Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby Silophant » October 6th, 2015, 7:47 am

I've heard that the Hennepin bus lanes actually can't be legally enforced, though I have no idea why that would be the case. Fixing that would probably be a good place to start.

mplser
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Re: Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby mplser » October 6th, 2015, 7:52 am

i feel like with the way people drive in this city, if we had dedicated bus lanes, they would just be used as if they weren't dedicated bus lanes, unfortunately. It would have to be heavily enforced....

mattaudio
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Re: Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby mattaudio » October 6th, 2015, 8:01 am

Hennepin lanes downtown probably can't be enforced because they're also right turn lanes. Anyone busted in there could just say they were getting ready to turn right.

One thing that would help in these situations would be if there were bollards separating the lanes except for the short distance they are actually RTLs as well (usually every other block downtown). I'd like to see 3rd Ave get this treatment as well, even on a temporary basis until Nicollet takes buses back. *idea credit: Trig

trigonalmayhem

Re: Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby trigonalmayhem » October 6th, 2015, 8:32 am

I'm all about those bollards

nate
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Re: Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby nate » October 6th, 2015, 11:46 am

Our bus system is built around connecting high-demand nodes rather than establishing a uniform, frequent grid of service. The 21 jogs up to Midway because that's where the jobs, shopping, and riders are.

I think encouraging bike use as a supplement/last mile transportation option is a better use of limited funds than creating lots of frequent crosstown routes to serve a relatively small number of non-downtown trips.

From Stevens Square, google tells me you can:
Take an 8-minute bike ride to Downtown East Station,
Take a 28-minute train ride to Western Avenue Station,
Take a 6 minute bike ride to Selby and Western (or somewhere else in Summit Hill).

That's a 45-50 minute end-to-end trip, with no transfer penalties. Not terribly bad and certainly better than a 90-minute, 3-bus trip.

trigonalmayhem

Re: Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby trigonalmayhem » October 6th, 2015, 11:55 am

While biking is a great last mile option that should be encouraged, you can't realistically assume all your riders are going to be willing or able to do that. If your bus system requires you to use a bike or car for part of your inner-city journey and not your own two feet, it's failed you as an urban user. There will always be situations where someone cannot connect by bike, be it bad weather, physical inability, or the two bike per bus limit on racks. You can't look at it through the lens of an able bodied young person and assume it's fine for everyone.

LakeCharles
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Re: Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby LakeCharles » October 6th, 2015, 11:58 am

Also it would be amazing if we could get a way to search for bus routes with biking as a option. If I wanted to get from South Minneapolis to St. Paul's North End, the only search I can make is either biking the whole way, or busing the whole way. But maybe I could bike up to the X bus, take it 4 miles, then make a quick mile bike ride to the Y bus, take it 3 miles, and bike the last 2 miles. Without exhaustively searching bus routes and schedules and trying to line everything up every time you go out, it's impossible!

EOst
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Re: Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby EOst » October 6th, 2015, 12:04 pm

Stevens Square -> Summit Hill is an 8- or 9-mile trip with a lot of physical bottlenecks. I strongly doubt the structure of our bus system adds more than 10-15% on what is going to be a long ride, no matter what.

FWIW: 9 miles no transfer on the average NYC subway line takes upwards of 45 minutes. Distance is distance.

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Re: Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby MNdible » October 6th, 2015, 12:17 pm

trigonalmayhem wrote:While biking is a great last mile option that should be encouraged, you can't realistically assume all your riders are going to be willing or able to do that. If your bus system requires you to use a bike or car for part of your inner-city journey and not your own two feet, it's failed you as an urban user. There will always be situations where someone cannot connect by bike, be it bad weather, physical inability, or the two bike per bus limit on racks. You can't look at it through the lens of an able bodied young person and assume it's fine for everyone.
I'll strongly echo most of what's written above, but I'll just point out that given the real world we live in, every transit system is going to "fail" some people. It's just not going to be possible to get everybody within a short walk from where they're gong in an efficient manner.

trigonalmayhem

Re: Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby trigonalmayhem » October 6th, 2015, 12:22 pm

I absolutely agree it's nearly impossible not to fail some people, but a goal of transit systems should always be to keep that number as low as possible. It seems like metro transit isn't even really trying very hard there because they're always chasing the elusive suburban commuter traffic.

nate
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Re: Improving Metro Transit's urban bus service

Postby nate » October 6th, 2015, 2:00 pm

trigonalmayhem wrote:While biking is a great last mile option that should be encouraged, you can't realistically assume all your riders are going to be willing or able to do that. If your bus system requires you to use a bike or car for part of your inner-city journey and not your own two feet, it's failed you as an urban user. There will always be situations where someone cannot connect by bike, be it bad weather, physical inability, or the two bike per bus limit on racks. You can't look at it through the lens of an able bodied young person and assume it's fine for everyone.
I agree completely, but we're talking about slightly different things here.

If bus service improvements means implementing aBRT-like changes to many more local routes (better shelters, off-board payment, consistent/longer stop spacing, signal priority, bus lanes at bottlenecks) then I am all for it.

If bus service improvements means adding frequencies to crosstown, off-peak routes to make trips like Stevens Square to Summit Hill simpler (as suggested by the first post) , then I hope there's a great big pile of money and political will to implement the changes. That's where my suggestion that a good bike network is a better investment comes in.


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