A construction crew working this summer on shelter for Route 63, now with Better Bus Route upgrades implemented at the start of the September service change.
Since 2018, the Better Bus Route program has sought to improve the customer experience with adjustments to improve not only speed and reliability, but also comfort and accessibility by adding new bus shelters and ADA pads.
After the pilot program on Route 2 and the recent upgrades to Route 63, the Service Development team is ready to tackle a more complicated service, Route 3.
"This route has three branches and many shortline trips," Michael Mechtenberg, manager of speed & reliability said. "It can be confusing to a customer when a trip splits directions or doesn't go to the expected terminus."
Route 3's current alignment is the result of merging a few different routes. At the time, those decisions made sense. As the years progress, however, route design and service needs evolve.
"We are taking lessons we've learned from our first two projects and applying them here," Mechtenberg said. "That allows us to start off on the right foot and work from the same playbook that has already proved successful."
Like Route 2 and 63 before, Service Development is investigating spacing between stops, shelter upgrades, bus stop accessibility, and potential alignment and schedule changes to simplify the route. A simplified route not only improves speed and reliability, but also makes navigation easier for customers.
Due to this program, 85-90% of Route 2 customers have a shelter at their stop and more Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) pads. Both routes have seen better on-time performance than before implementing service upgrades.
As the Route 3 crosses city and county boarders, project partners from Ramsey and Hennepin counties, Minneapolis, and St. Paul have taken an active role in the project.
“As part of the City’s Comprehensive Plan, we're partnering with the Better Bus Route program,” said Mark Finken, engineering technician supervisor for Saint Paul Public Works. “This will help buses run faster and on time, improving the customer experience for all users. Consolidating stops, simplifying routes, and improving connections create a better bus network to attract new riders."
During the winter of 2021, the project team will begin to engage customers about these potential changes to the route. The team plans to implement Better Bus Route upgrades during the August 2021 quarterly service changes.