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Metro Transit: December Disaster!

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON The latest news out of Metro Transit isn’t good. Thanks to a shortage of drivers, one of the worst cutbacks in recent years is coming soon. Unlike past cutbacks, this isn’t due to lack of funding, lack of riders, or a pandemic. It is literally because they can’t hire enough drivers. As of 15 October 2022, Route 27 (26th/28th Streets between Hiawatha and I-35W) has been suspended. People are recommended to take Route 21 (Lake Street) instead. In addition, the following cutbacks in the Phillips community will start 3 December 2022:The Orange Line will be reduced from once every 15 minutes to once every half hour during the weekday midday period.Route 9 is being reduced from once every half hour to once an hour except during rush hours.Route 67 is being reduced from once every half hour to once an hour except during rush hours. Many other transit routes in various areas of the Twin Cities are also being cut. However, the 9 and the 67 are pretty important to Phillips as they run along Franklin Avenue. The 9 provides access to downtown Minneapolis, Saint Louis Park, and the Longfellow area. The 67 makes it possible for people to go from Phillips to Saint Paul. It is hard to imagine what it will be like with these buses only running once an hour.I have information that Metro Transit is raising its starting wage from about $21 per hour to $26.65 per hour. Hopefully, this will help overcome the safety concerns and the better opportunities for Commercial Driver’s License holders that have made it difficult for Metro Transit to hire enough drivers. Driving transit used to be considered a desirable job. It should be once again. The only good news coming this December is the opening of the brand new D Line, which will run every 10-20 minutes and only stop at major intersections. Within Phillips, the Chicago Avenue stops will be at Franklin Avenue, 24th Street, 26th Street, and the Chicago-Lake Transit Center. (I thought this was [...]

Reliability vs. Scheduled Frequency

<strong>Reliability vs. Scheduled Frequency</strong>

METRO TRANSIT Reliability vs. Scheduled Frequency by JOHN CHARLES WILSON The Metro Transit service change of 20 August 2022 can be seen in two ways: First, as a service reduction, or second, as a reduction in promises to what Metro Transit can reliably deliver at this time. The driver shortage is making it so buses and trains don’t always come when they’re supposed to. Reducing how often they’re supposed to come is a realistic solution for now. Anyway, here are the changes affecting the Phillips neighborhood. Light Rail service is being reduced from once every 12 minutes to once every 15 minutes.Route 2 is also being reduced from once every 12 minutes to once every 15 minutes.Route 9 afternoon rush hour service is being reduced from once every 20 minutes to once every half hour.The 7:35 AM Route 14 trip which leaves 38th Street Station going northbound will instead leave from 66th and Richfield Parkway to make transfers from Route 46 possible.The Route 21 eastbound schedule on Saturdays will be adjusted slightly to improve reliability.Route 22 will have less stops so it will go faster.Route 467 to Lakeville, which was suspended for COVID, is being restored, with six trips one half hour apart during rush hour northbound in the morning and southbound in the afternoon. In other news, planning for the B Line on Lake Street is humming along. By 2024, we should have a faster, more reliable bus with a dedicated westbound lane, which is where the most traffic jams affecting Route 21 occur. My plan to have my own transit blog is coming to fruition. I am planning my first post at minneapolistransitblog.com for 19 September 2022, the 52nd anniversary of the Metropolitan Transit Commission’s takeover of Twin City Lines.

METRO TRANSIT

METRO TRANSIT

Safer and Smaller Trains? By JOHN CHARLES WILSON Metro Transit is in the midst of an experiment with running two-car, instead of three-car, trains on both the Blue and Green Lines. This experiment continues through 20 August. The purpose of the test is to see if two-car trains reduce the amount of cleaning necessary and increase the amount of “interaction” between the Metro Transit police and train riders. Three-car trains will still run on busy days, such as Twins game days. Personally, though it may not do much for the cleaning issue, I believe the best way to make train travel safer is to order “open gangway” light rail vehicles, as are used in Toronto. Instead of separate cars with no inside connection between them, open gangway trains fit together with an open corridor between cars, creating an effect similar to articulated buses. This means people in back don’t have the full separation from the front which seems to embolden troublemakers, and it also means that if someone in one part of the train feels bothered or scared, they can move to the other part without waiting for the train to stop. In other news, Metro Transit has quietly released information concerning the coming D Line, a Bus Rapid Transit line slated for Chicago Avenue. The D Line is scheduled to begin running in December 2022. One interesting tidbit that has been kept low-key is the fact that the 5 bus route will no longer run all the way to either Brooklyn Center or the Mall of America. The D Line, with its limited stops, will go the full route of the current 5, but the 5, which stops every block, will only run between Osseo Road and 47th Avenue North to 56th Street and Chicago Avenue South. And while the D will run every 10 minutes, the 5 will only show up once every half hour. (The change on the north end of the 5 won’t go into effect until the 47th Avenue Station is completed in Spring 2023). I sincerely hope that the D Line will make bus riding on the Chicago [...]

Metro Transit: Bus Service Changes, Coming and Planned

Metro Transit: Bus Service Changes, Coming and Planned

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON Metro Transit’s quarterly service changes on 26 Match 2022 that affect the alley readership area are as follows: The Orange Line’s 15 minute southbound frequency is being extended from 7 to 8 PM.Route 2 will have minor adjustments to better reflect current usage.Route 5 will have minor adjustments to better reflect real travel times.Route 14 will have less morning school day trips to South and Roosevelt High Schools, and will run every 20 minutes instead of every 15 minutes during rush hours.Route 22 will have minor adjustments to reflect real travel times downtown and will also be cut to once every 20 minutes instead of every 15 minutes during rush hours.Route 27 will have schedule adjustments for better connections with the Orange Line. In addition to this, Metro Transit is planning to make Route 22 more efficient, starting in August 2022, by simplifying the route and by cutting back on stops to increase speed. The simplifications include cutting back from four to two branches on the north end, and eliminating a minor route deviation at rush hours through a residential neighborhood on the far south end. These changes have little impact on Phillips residents. However, some of the planned stop reductions are in Phillips: The stops on Cedar Ave. at 27th St. in both directions are slated for elimination.The northbound stop on Cedar Ave. at Lake St. by the cemetery is proposed to be moved to the other side of Lake St. by the City Market. There is light at the end of the tunnel for those of us who don’t like wearing masks. The mask requirement may end 17 April 2022. This is something many have waited a long time for!

Transit: Happy New Year, People of Phillips!

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON Well, the year 2021 is drawing to a close and 2022 is just now starting. As a transit enthusiast, I have a lot to be disappointed in and a lot to look forward to, and I hope alley readers feel the same. What was disappointing was primarily that the pandemic has decimated transit usage to the point where many bus and train routes have been curtailed. I had hoped things would be back to normal by now, but I suspect this is the new normal. The rise in attacks on innocent transit users, especially on unsupervised trains, is very disconcerting. There are people who now eschew the light rail for slower buses because they are perceived as safer. The fact that there is a shortage of bus and train drivers doesn’t help any, either. However, there are reasons to be hopeful for a better future: Maybe even if humans don’t beat coronavirus, we may find a way to have an uneasy truce with it. Maybe we will find a happy medium with security/law enforcement where really harmful behavior is suppressed without them having to be so brutal about it. (Hint: the powers that be should study how other countries handle this stuff.) Maybe the Met Council will find a way to make driving a bus equally lucrative to what it was in the 1970s and 1980s. There have been some accomplishments in 2021: The Orange Line went into service, connecting downtown Minneapolis with Burnsville. Plans are chugging along for the E Line on Hennepin and the B Line on Lake Street. Construction is underway for the D Line on Chicago Avenue. Work is being done to expand Bus Rapid Transit to Saint Paul.  I have written 58 columns, one each month since March 2017. One thing I’ve learned is there isn’t always enough Phillips-specific transit news to justify a monthly column. Therefore, as of January 2022, this column will only appear in the alley when there is sufficient local transit news to justify it. That will be a minimum of once every three months, as that’s how [...]

Onward, Funding Transit!

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON  METRO TRANSIT  October 2020 has been an excellent month for Twin Cities transit enthusiasts. We are finally getting guaranteed funding for three and a half projects:  ● The Federal Transit Administration made a Full Funding Grant Agreement with the State of Minnesota for the Green Line extension to Eden Prairie. This provides $928.8 million towards the $2,002 million needed for the project, with the remainder being funded locally. Construction has been under way for two years, and completion is expected by 2023.  ● The Minnesota House passed an infrastructure bonding bill which provides funds to start construction of the B and D Lines, which are bus rapid transit. The B Line is planned for Lake Street as a faster version of Route 21, similar to Route 53 except for using Selby Ave. in Saint Paul rather than I-94. The D Line will be a faster version of Route 5, serving the Chicago Ave. S. and Fremont Ave. N. corridors. Construction is expected to begin in 2021 on the D Line and 2022 on the B line. It should take about two years for each line.  ● Included in the bill is funding for preliminary planning and engineering work for the E Line, which is intended as a faster version of Route 6. Assuming that full funding eventually comes, construction could start as early as 2023.  This is definitely good news and a reminder that our transit system isn”™t dead, it”™s just sleeping its way through the COVID-19 pandemic. Though I am personally mad at society for believing in forcing health on people, I will be glad when it”™s over so things go back to normal, like being able to dine in at restaurants, browse books at the library, or just sit down in a public place. 

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