Let’s welcome “Rapid Bus”

Metro Transit is studying 11 corridors for significant upgrades to bus service.  These corridors represent high-ridership, dense locations with high potential for service improvements.  Sharp-eyed readers might recognize these “rapid bus” corridors as something that is called “arterial bus rapid transit” in the 2030 Transportation Policy Plan.

So what designates a rapid bus route? Fewer stops, off-bus fare collection, all-door boarding – all equal faster service.  At the open house last week, project displays showed between 20 and 30% travel time savings, depending on the corridor.  Stops will become stations, with shelters, dynamic signage and possibly raised curbs and bumpouts.  These look like great improvements.

Metro Transit staff told me the next step is to identify first corridors for implementation by looking at what corridors have the most potential for service improvement (and probably which are most politically feasible).  The rapid bus concept will also be used in the alternatives analysis for Nicollet (sometimes called the streetcar study).

Creating Real Transit Improvements in Uptown: Part 1

The future? photo by flickr user: Mulad

The future? photo by flickr user: Mulad

The routing decision for the Southwest LRT is basically done.  I’ve previously bemoaned what seemed like the inevitable choice of Route 3A by the County because I (and others) had unanswered questions about ridership and the long-term logic of bypassing Uptown.  Critics of 3C suggested that a more appropriate transit solution for Uptown would be a Greenway streetcar, and that transit advocates in Uptown should really wait their turn for what was surely a better alternative.  However, this argument doesn’t make sense, because the major destinations LRT would connect are the U of M and Downtown with Uptown, not Hiawatha Avenue with Uptown.

After some disparaging for the future, I decided that I should try to be positive and proactive, rather than gloomy and snide.  So Uptown and south Minneapolis are not going to benefit from the new LRT line.  So what would it take to get substantial improvements to the transit system in the Hennepin/Lyndale/Nicollet corridors?  Is there a cost-effective way to overcome, or at least minimize, the limitations now faced by the bus system (traffic congestion, inclement weather and slow fare collection)?  Can we create a bus corridor that would rival LRT for speed and desirability?

I have some ideas, but I don’t pretend to be an expert.  So, in a Net Density first, I’ll be asking a few very knowledgeable (and gracious) individuals to describe how they would improve the existing system in the Uptown/LynLake area.  I will ask that they restrain themselves to improvements that could really be implemented, and are not wildly expensive (no subways). And, of course these improvements should have the potential to significantly increase ridership and make the overall transit experience in the area better.

The first guest post comes from a Metro Transit planner who has been involved in transitway planning throughout the region.  From the conversations we’ve had so far, his post promises to be intriguing and give clear strategies for greater ridership and better service.  He’ll also have some good real world examples of how improvements he is suggesting have been implemented in other cities.  Stay tuned.