Unable to hire enough bus drivers to staff its scheduled service, Metro Transit continues to downsize the system. The result is the weekday ridership profile seen above. Some of the heaviest routes in the system will see less frequent service beginning March 26. Here are the specifics.
Frequency on weekdays between downtown Minneapolis and Southdale will be reduced from every 10 minutes to every 15 minutes from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Frequency on weekdays between downtown the U of MN will be reduced from every 20 minutes to every 30 minutes.
“B” branch service via Wooddale Ave. will be suspended.
Frequency will be reduced from every 10 minutes to every 12 minutes during rush hours and to every 15 minutes during non rush-hour service for weekdays and Saturdays.
Morning and afternoon rush hour frequency will be reduced from every 15 minutes to every 20 minutes.
“L” branch service via Noble Ave. south of 36th Ave. will be suspended.
Weekday frequency will be reduced from every 10 minutes to every 12 minutes between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. and 15 minutes between 7 and 9 p.m.
Weekend frequency will be reduced from every 10 minutes to every 15 minutes between downtown and 66th St.
Frequency during morning and afternoon rush hours will be reduced from every 15 minutes to every 20 minutes.
Frequency will be reduced from every 20 minutes to every 30 minutes during morning rush hours on weekdays and on Saturdays to better reflect current ridership.
Frequency during the morning and afternoon rush hours will be reduced from every 15 minutes to every 20 minutes.
“D” branch service to Parkview Plaza in Mendota Heights will be suspended.
“E” branch limited service via Livingston Ave. and Colleen Loney Manor will be suspended.
“F” branch service to 54th St./Alta will be adjusted to operate every 45 minutes during the day.
Northbound Routes 62, 67 and 75 will move from Wabasha Street to Minnesota Street.
“C” branch via Excelsior Blvd. will be suspended.
Trip frequency will be reduced from every 20 minutes to every 30 minutes during non-rush hour times on weekdays and all day on Saturday and Sunday.
Why is this happening? In the most recent staff report to the Met Council, Metro Transit was 38 operators short of the level needed to run the service. It will get worse, because the attrition rate has averaged 16/month, but the hiring rate is only 8/month. Before the major service cuts enacted last December, daily lost trips ranged from 50-300 per day. Covid made it much worse. That number of lost trips has not been seen for the last 30 years and was bad enough to start causing riders to lose confidence in the system’s reliability. Since the service cuts and the ebbing of the Covid Omicron wave, daily lost trips have hovered around 10 per day—not great but not catastrophic either.
As the pandemic eases, ridership is edging back up. Local buses have regained half of 2019 riders, light rail 40 percent and express buses 15 percent.
Graph by Metro Transit.