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Rider's Almanac Blog

Service Changes

Service improvements are another sign we're moving in the right direction

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, November 22, 2023 2:31:00 PM

Customers board a Route 21 bus in Saint Paul.

From Director of Service Development Adam Harrington

A year ago at this time we were explaining why we'd have to further reduce service as we worked to hire more bus operators. Since then, we've hired hundreds of new operators and been able to gradually add trips back into our schedules.

In December, we'll continue this trend by adding more trips to segments of two of our busiest routes, the 21 and 724, and restoring express routes that carry riders directly between Woodbury and the two downtowns.

With these changes, we'll be offering 10% more service hours compared to last year and be providing close to 90% of the local and Bus Rapid Transit service we did before 2020.

We'll also be making several route and schedule adjustments that account for the end of some impactful construction detours.

Our latest round of service improvements comes as we take a closer look at how we should approach this important work in the coming years.

After hearing from riders and other stakeholders through our Network Now project, we've developed a set of five principles that will guide our efforts to meet the region's changing travel behaviors and expectations. These principles include: 

 - Adapting service to changes in transit markets and travel patterns. We continue to track changes in travel patterns and will be looking in the near future to determine what should happen next with suspended routes and dormant facilities, and what new options we can introduce to maintain transit access across the region. We'll also be looking to grow ridership by adding service when and where people are using it the most.

 - Maintaining the reliability of scheduled service consistently over time. Reducing service was never an easy thing to do. But having scheduled trips we couldn't reliably provide was even less ideal. While we've had success hiring operators, numerous open positions in our maintenance areas and future retirements are limiting factors we'll have to keep in mind moving forward.

 - Preparing for new METRO and high-frequency routes. By the end of 2027, we'll open five new Bus Rapid Transit lines and the Green Line Extension. Each of these new lines will largely replace existing local service or lead us to adjust connecting routes so people who don't live directly along these corridors can access them using transit.

 - Providing access to opportunities and services with a focus on advancing equity and reducing regional disparities. We work hard to make sure our service changes don't disproportionally impact people with lower incomes, communities of color, renters, and households without access to vehicles. We will continue to evaluate network changes with an equity lens and with a goal of retaining access to key destinations like grocery stores, schools, and medical facilities.

As always, we also remain committed to listening and responding to riders and staff whose experiences and feedback help us appreciate the impacts of our decision-making.

Ultimately, it's our job to apply these principles, to listen and learn, and to use our resources in a way that makes transit as convenient and attractive as possible. Thank you for helping us continue to move in this direction.

Service improvements being proposed through the Network Now project will be shared next year. Stay up to date at