Metro Transit seems to have quietly cut service on the express service route I have used to get to work for years.
I say “quietly” because it hasn’t been announced anywhere I’ve seen. There is no service announcement. But last week my bus just stopped coming. Did I miss an announcement? Is my bus service gaslighting me? I say “seems” because I only have my own experience to go by.
Here’s a representative screenshot of my transit app as I waited for the scheduled 8:11 departure of the 53 last week—the pictured bus is not on the 53’s route and won’t be arriving to pick me up.
Still, the bus was scheduled, so for several days last week I waited for it. And was rewarded by a more than half hour wait and being late to work. The next bus that came was the next-scheduled run—my bus was not running late due to weather, it wasn’t running at all. (To make things more confusing, one day it DID come about 15 minutes late, and I missed it because I had stopped waiting and concluded it wasn’t coming).
I say this is my bus, but it’s several dozen people’s transportation to work and school. This is a popular run with the kids of the Hiawatha Collegiate charter school in Longfellow. So popular that frequently the bus is packed, standing room only, with people shouting for riders to move back and make room for more passengers.
So it’s weird to just stop running this bus, right?
I complained to Metro Transit, and finally, today, I think they have come up with a solution—one that doesn’t bode well for the future.
I appreciate now knowing that there will be no 8:11 departure. But is this how Metro Transit is going to handle service reductions under their new leadership? Are there other runs out there silently being cut that riders learn about by the bus just not showing up?
In my complaint, I asked Metro Transit to respond. When they do I’ll ask streets.mn to update this post.
I am hoping to hear that this is just a temporary service reduction, but at this point it is unarguably a service reduction—and Metro Transit should be more transparent, communicative, and accountable about these things. They’ve already cut one early 53 run for want of funding, but at least they announced it.
Quietly cutting heavily used runs that commuters and students rely on, leaving them in the cold, is unacceptable. There should be signs for riders at every 53 stop explaining the disruption, and when it is expected to end.
I eventually learned not to wait for this bus that isn’t coming, but skipping scheduled runs without notifying riders will hurt confidence in the reliability of transit, which is the opposite of what we need. Cutting half-hourly service to hourly service on a heavily-used commuter route without an announcement or explanation is going to push people who can afford it into cars. When ridership declines, we can look to decisions and service quality like this for an explanation.
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