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Good Question: Why are certain routes operated under contract?

| Thursday, June 26, 2014 3:00:00 AM

Route 87 is operated under contract by Schmitty & Sons, Inc. The route runs from the Rosedale Transit Center to W. 7th St, with service to the University of Minnesota's St. Paul Campus, METRO Green Line's Raymond Avenue Station, and Highland Park.

While Metro Transit is the primary provider of regular route service in the Twin Cities, the Metropolitan Council contracts a small number of routes to private transportation companies.

Depending on service needs and staffing levels each quarter, Metro Transit operators provide about 3,000 to 4,000 hours serving customers each weekday. And each weekday, transit contracts between 500 to 600 service hours on a handful of routes to private transportation companies. This equates to about 14% of total service hours.

Most contracted routes operate in suburban areas and typically have fewer riders. These routes, however, provide important connecting service to other routes and destinations. Other routes may also be contracted to meet new service demands, demonstrate a new service type, or due to operational constraints.

Contracted buses look just like any other Metro Transit bus, except they're generally smaller because ridership does not warrant the use of a larger, 40-foot bus. Customers pay the same fares and use the same fare payment technologies (Go-To Cards, Metropass, etc.) as they would when riding a bus operated by Metro Transit. All contracted services are supported by Metro Transit's customer service department.

Some examples of contracted routes:

  • Route 80, and Route 225, are good examples of contracted routes that play important roles in the regional transit network.
    • Route 80 runs between the Maplewood Mall Transit Center and the Sun Ray Transit Center.
    • Route 225 provides service from Shoreview to the Rosedale Transit Center.
  • Route 83 runs along Lexington Parkway and is operated under contract because a railroad overpass near Como Park requires the use of smaller buses.

Routes have been operated under contract since transit service began in the Twin Cities. Private companies such as Medicine Lake Lines and Lorenz Bus Service received operating subsidies from the Metropolitan Transit Commission after the agency became public. The practice continued with the introduction of the BE Line in Bloomington and Edina and a Roseville Circulator in the early 1990s.

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