Tuesday July 5th 2022

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Transit News: Going Too Slow

by John Charles Wilson

(Note: Some concepts in this month”™s column are borrowed from a article titled “Metro Transit Service: Chicken or Egg”, posted 6 August 2021 by Andy Lewis, even though the opinions I will state are my own.)

Metro Transit is going too slow. By that, I don”™t mean the buses and trains are literally going too slow, or running too infrequently. (In some parts of the country, “fast” and “slow” are used colloquially to refer to frequency of transit service.) What I mean is, Metro Transit is going too slow at responding to changing conditions regarding changing transit needs as pandemic conditions keep changing.

We had light at the end of the tunnel, then it got extinguished by the Delta variant. With the even more threatening Lambda variant on the international scene, we may be in for another round of Stay-At-Home Orders. Or we may not, we just don”™t know.

Metro Transit typically adjusts schedules during something called a “pick”, when operators sign up for their piece of work for the next three months. During normal times, this quarterly schedule adjustment is plenty. However, in the rapidly changing world of COVID-19, perhaps a monthly adjustment would be wise.

Many people have quit using buses and trains, as either they”™re working from home or they are afraid of catching this horrid virus. However, some are just now sticking their noses out (figuratively), and trying Metro Transit again. Right now is the time they should run as many buses and trains as possible given their budget and available drivers. That may mean providing excess service for the time being, but I think that”™s a good thing because it helps with social distancing, and reminds people that Metro Transit will be there for them when they are ready to come back. Some routes aren”™t even running right now, putting their customers at risk of giving up on transit permanently.

For those who dare ride a bus or train right now, Metro Transit is offering a sale in September and October 2021: $1.00 rides on all routes at all times, 50 cents for those who now get discounts. Personally, I hope this experiment will convince the Met Council that having the same fare at all hours rather than charging extra at rush hour is the way to go for simplicity”™s sake.

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