This is a report on some work my colleagues and I have done evaluating accessibility on the soon-to-open Metro Transit A-Line BRT running from Rosedale to the Blue Line in Minneapolis. The line improves speeds on the local bus line through various improvements, most notably all-door boarding. Most notably, it increases frequency and reduces the number of stops.
The results of the research are not surprising. Accessibility increases at the retained stops (more buses per hour, so less wait time), and decreases at the stops not served by the A-Line (which continue to get some local bus service, but at reduced frequency). This nets out as a positive increase in accessibility for the region as a whole at the 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 minute thresholds. (It should be noted, that the 10 minute accessibility actually drops a fraction of a percent, as the reduction in service at some bus stops means that walk distances are greater for some people. There is a coverage/frequency tradeoff. However, because this is a well-designed net increase in service, there is a net increase in accessibility).
Palmateer, Chelsey; Owen, Andrew; Levinson, David M. (2016). Accessibility Evaluation of the Metro Transit A-Line.Accessibility Observatory, University of Minnesota. Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy, http://hdl.handle.net/11299/180900.
Very cool. I do notice a few areas shaded light brown in the Falcon Heights area, indicating a slight reduction in the number of 30-minute jobs. Are those people who had short trips on the #84, and are impacted by the reduction in frequency of that line, or have to walk further to reach an A-Line stop?
Those are people who have to walk longer to get to transit or wait longer because there are fewer runs per hour on the 84.
I wonder if it would ever make sense to extend the A-line westward across South Minneapolis, possibly with a transfer to the Orange Line. Is there an ideal service length (in miles, minutes, etc) for this type of service, before you get diminishing returns due to unreliability or other efficiency losses?
I say this selfishly as someone who lives in South Minneapolis but too far west of the 46th Street Blue Line station.
I agree, though I think the land uses along 38th (the 23’s route) justify this level of service more than 46th does. It’s too bad there isn’t a station planned on I-35W at 38th. With stations in downtown, at Lake St, 38th, and 46th, you basically have 1 mile spacing – not crazy for a grade-separated, Metro branded service in an urban area with headways of 10-15 minutes (for example, the Blue Line stops at all 3 of those cross-streets).
But yeah, I’ve felt for a while that an extension of this along over to the 46th St Station, then down to 50th St at Nicollet and continuing west to 50th/France (or beyond, to Grandview) would make a lot of sense. I’d be interested to see an analysis of if ~0.5 mile stop spacing with the off-board efficiency would allow a route of that length to run reliably or not. You’d be looking at 16-17 miles at that point.
If 46th were a through route, I am sure the connection would have been made. However there is a pesky lake in the middle. Still, aside from avoiding a transfer, is there much advantage to through routing on these? Think of it more as a multiple hub and spoke system, with the Blue Line stations (and Orange Line stations) being mini-hubs. I don’t think too many people are seeking a same seat ride from South Minneapolis on 46th to Highland Village.
My apologies if I missed this, but was this ever done for the green line? I’d be curious to see whether there is any tan due to the spacing, particularly east of Lexington.
It was, but the methodology was slightly different. http://access.umn.edu/publications/other/greenline2015/documents/CTS15-06.pdf
It used different buffer zones, so the results (weighted average increases in jobs accessible) are not perfectly comparable.
Rode the A line this morning, but a bit circuitously so I could enjoy most of the route. Took the #553 downtown from Diamond Lake, then the #264 to Rosedale. Both of those are Express routes that each cover 6-7 miles in about 15 minutes.
Taking the A-line from Rosedale was really a nice continuation from those express routes (especially after a couple of frustratingly slow trips I’ve had recently on local buses). Even though the A line is serving a local route it *feels* almost like express service. It REALLY zips along. The only other local route I’ve experienced here that seems comparably fast is the #54.
I was expecting to be a bit underwhelmed because the schedule didn’t appear to shave that many minutes off the old #84 service, but WOW it sure feels faster. Bravo, Metro Transit! Looking forward to a lot more aBRT in the coming years. (And I’ll be sampling Calgary’s service next weekend, for comparison).
Also, as another south Minneapolis resident I sure wish I could get to 46th St/Hiawatha station more easily. As it is I have to take either the #5, #14 (or, at the right time, the #111) north to pick up the #46. Or, more circuitously but not necessarily much slower is to go all the way downtown and come back down on the Blue Line. Or for a lot of A Line destinations it’s quicker to go all the way downtown, then east on the Green Line and transfer to the A Line at Snelling. Frankly, in nice weather sometimes I instead take Nice Ride bike between Highland and either Midtown Market or the new Seward Co-Op on 38th, connecting to/from home with the #5.
As for the #46 vs the #38, I do often find that either one may be better for getting to Highland (where I’m writing this), and I’m interested in the argument that #38 might make a better case for A Line extension than the #46. Anyone know the relative ridership figures, and the thinking behind the decision to put a station on 35W at 46th instead of 38th? Obviously I like the idea of 46th because it’s closer to my house, but I imagine ridership demand must be greater to Uptown than it is to lower SW Minneapolis/Linden Hills.
As much as *I* would like to see a future A-line extension replace the #46, potentially at least as far as France Avenue, I can understand that replacing part of the #38’s route might make more sense in terms of ridership. The lack of a 38th Avenue station is a huge problem, though one that might be addressable when 35W gets its total rebuild from 42nd to downtown in a couple of years. OR … what if an A-line extension followed the 38th Avenue route as far as Chicago Avenue, then up to Lake Street (connecting to Midtown Global Market) and took Lake out to Uptown, accessing the 35W/Lake Street station (thereby replacing much of the core demand on the #21 route)?
On a (related) side note, I know I’m not the only one frustrated by the lack of crosstown buses between 46th/50th and 66th. I realize this is mostly due to geography, of course, but the impact of this is about to be cast in sharp relief by the Orange Line. By far the biggest gap in Orange Line service this side of the Minnesota River will be the ~3 miles between 46th street station and 66th street station (which are almost as far apart north-south as they are east-west). For me, a South Minneapolis resident below 54th Avenue who lives literally within easy earshot of 35W, it will be frustrating to have all those Orange Line buses running by, but the nearest station two miles (or 1 local bus trip plus 2/3 mile walk) away.