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Community Engagement

Better Bus Stops Community Engagement

Project Focus Area

What is Better Bus Stops?

A project to enhance access to opportunity by investing in bus stop shelters, lighting, heat and pedestrian access.

A community engagement process, active from March 2016 – March 2017, based in areas of concentrated poverty where more than half of the residents are people of color.

Why focus on community engagement?

To bring the community into the planning, decision-making and implementation of bus stop improvements and to influence the criteria the agency uses to prioritize shelter investments.

Bus Shelter Better Bus Stops Overview (PDF)

Community Engagement Budget

Members of the community involved in the process.
Community Engagement Budget  $17,645 Nokomis East Neighborhood Association $21,313 Corcoran Neighborhood Organization**  $25,000 Dayton’s Bluff Community Council $11,750 West Bank Community Coalition $20,000 Minneapolis Highrise Representative Council $25,000 Hope Community $15,000 West Side Community Organization $18,600 St. Paul Smart Trips $21,792 West Broadway Business and Area Coalition* $25,000 Harrison Neighborhood Association $16,150 Jordan Area Community Council***   $86,750 Metro Transit  $332,250 CET (Nexus Community Partners, Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, CURA)  $3.26 million FTA grant (+local funds)  10% $419,000 devoted to community engagement    * partnered with Juxtaposition Arts  ** partnered with Central Area Neighborhood  Development Organization, Lyndale Neighborhood  Association, Lake Street Council  *** partnered with Hawthorne Neighborhood Council

“All the players ‘at the table’ were paid to be there, rather than paid professional staff and volunteer community members. This created the conditions for leadership development and community ownership of the process – which ultimately yielded high quality results.“
– Metro Transit staff

Community Engagement Model

Community Engagement Model

“Co-creation of this model with the CET involved Metro Transit giving up decision-making power in several ways, which was essential in creating the conditions and space for community leadership and ownership of the work and outcomes.

Examples of this include who and how community engagement subcontracts were awarded, along with empowering community organizations to build off their expertise and create their own customized engagement plans for their constituencies.”
– Metro Transit staff

Community Engagement Numbers

An estimated 7,000 people participated in community engagement.
2,013 Metro Transit surveys completed + 2,230 surveys customized by community organizations.
An estimated 7000 people participated in community engagement.

What did we learn?


  • Signage and information
  • Benches
  • Shelters
  • Lighting
  • Heaters
  • Safe street crossings
  • Maintenance at bus stops and shelters

“Bus shelters with lighting, heat, benches and maps are extremely helpful to those of us who rely on transit.”
– Survey participant


  • Where many people wait for the bus.

  • Near hospitals, healthcare clinics, social service centers, senior housing, housing and services for people with disabilities, where children are waiting.
  • Where residents don’t have a car, where residents have lower income.

“Even though ridership may not be as high, shelters are needed near senior housing.”
– Survey participant


  • Bus service and operations
  • Equitable distribution of resources
  • Fares
  • Safety

“When buses run late or too early, peoples’ livelihoods are at stake.”
– Community Organization

“Some people actually don’t have cars ... and they rely on the light rail and the bus every day they wake up.”
– Community Organization


  • A safe path to the bus stop, and safe environment at the bus stop
  • Design for all ages and abilities
  • Better weather protection

Safety must be addressed through an equity lens because of the different ways that safety shapes and defines bus riders’ experiences depending on their location, identity and other factors. We heard from the majority of subcontractors that safety was a top concern for their community members when using transit. The diversity of comments and suggestions on this topic show that safety is defined and addressed differently in every community.”

Community Engagement Accomplishments

  • Engaging and centering the people and communities who are traditionally under-represented in transit decision-making, but are most affected by these decisions.
  • Engaging the community in discussions focusing on equity and policy surrounding the investment of resources at the bus stop level to influence the criteria the agency uses to prioritize bus stops improvements.
  • Fostering greater transparency on Metro Transit decision-making and providing more information about bus stop improvements.
  • Creating opportunities to build capacity within the community on transit issues, by compensating community organizations as full partners.
  • Documenting and sharing lessons learned from this model of community engagement.

“[As a result of the Better Bus Stops project] we have closer relationships with individuals from Metro Transit itself, the Metropolitan Council, and from various neighborhood groups…”
– Community Organization

“A major success is that residents in the community feel that we are doing something positive by being out there in the streets engaging with them. We have heard comments such as ‘It’s nice to see people wanting to do something positive in the neighborhood,’ multiple times from the community.”
– Community Organization