From General Manager Wes Kooistra
Over the past several years, we've implemented two arterial Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines, providing faster, more reliable service and a more comfortable ride to some of the region’s busiest corridors. We’ve also added evening and weekend service to several bus routes, and upgraded others to high-frequency service so customers can expect a bus to arrive, in some cases, as often as every 10 minutes.
These improvements have helped us better serve people who work non-traditional hours, reduced wait times and made it easier to take transit to key destinations like St. Louis Park's West End.
They've also led more people to ride, helping combat a broader decline in bus ridership.
To build on this work, we're embarking on an ambitious planning effort called Network Next that will identify and prioritize improvements to our local, express and arterial BRT networks over the next 20 years.
Network Next will also address how our facilities and fleet will need to evolve to support these improvements and give direction for providing more reliable service, expanded access to real-time information and customer facilities and integrating shared-mobility options.
Network Next will provide a path for expanding access in our region and for ensuring our customers have an exceptional experience every time they ride – both essential to growing ridership.
To develop a unified and supported vision, we'll be inviting input from customers, local officials and staff. We'll be especially interested in feedback on our goals and the trade-offs we encounter in our work. For example, we could provide more routes with fewer transfers and less frequent service or have fewer routes with more transfers and more frequent service.
Based on what we hear, we’ll develop a draft plan that we expect to share in about a year and to be adopted by the Metropolitan Council by the first quarter of 2021.
While we're excited to hear from our community, we're not setting out with a completely clean slate.
The plan will be informed by the Metropolitan Council's high-level, regional transportation goals, previous research on potential BRT corridors, existing customer feedback and the Service Improvement Plan (SIP) that was adopted in 2015.
Combining all this information into a coherent plan will create a critical roadmap for our organization. But just as importantly it will become a vision our entire region can rally behind.
How can I get involved?
We are looking for organizations, community groups, individual community leaders and artists from around the region to host and facilitate a community conversation around transit network tradeoffs and priorities. These conversations will be designed by the host to best meet the needs of the community they are focused on and will help us better understand the transit priorities of the communities we serve. Funding is available to support this work.
Stay up-to-date on the project by signing up for the Network Next newsletter or contacting us at NetworkNext@metrotransit.org.