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Speed & Reliability Program

The Speed and Reliability Program is one of several Metro Transit initiatives for improving bus travel times and reliability. It was established in early 2018 with a goal of improving local bus service.

Improvements to Speed and Reliability

Better Bus Routes

The Better Bus Route program aims to improve high ridership local bus routes not identified for future Bus Rapid Transit investments. These projects take a more holistic approach to improving service, with goals to:

  • Make substantial improvements to speed and reliability of service, in part by eliminating bus stops with few boardings
  • Improve the customer experience by ensuring that all bus stops are ADA-accessible, and by installing level concrete pads that make it easier to board and exit buses and installing shelters
  • Where possible, simplify the route alignment and schedule to make the service more intuitive
  • Help buses stay on schedule and ensure operators have adequate rest time between trips

Since 2018, routes 2, 3, 22 and 63 have seen improvements through the Better Bus Routes program. Improvements to Route 17 will be made in 2023, and routes 4, 61 and 11 will be improved in future.

Bus Lanes and Corridor Improvements

Corridor-level projects focus on bus lanes, Transit Signal Priority (TSP) and strategies to reduce dwell time. For example, a three-day pilot of bus lanes that help buses move more quickly on Hennepin Avenue tested a concept that was permanently implemented in 2019. For example, bus lanes on Hennepin Avenue allow buses to bypass traffic during designated times. Other completed bus lane projects include 7th Street in downtown Minneapolis, a key transit corridor with combination of Bus Rapid Transit, local, and express bus service. Planned bus lanes include 10th St N, the Hennepin/Lyndale Commons, 1st Ave NE/Hennepin Ave NE, and portions of Lake St. and Marshall Ave. These projects will be implemented in the next 2-3 years.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

Arterial Bus Rapid Transit lines like the METRO A Line, C Line and D Line provide faster and more reliable service in the region's busiest transit corridors. When fully built out, a quarter of the region's residents will live within a quarter-mile of a BRT line.

Network Next

Network Next established a vision for the bus network of 2040. Focused on improvements beyond existing available resources, it charts the course for new BRT lines as well as more frequent service, longer hours, and better weekend service on existing local and express routes and new bus routes in areas without fixed-route service today. Building on these past efforts, plans to add back service as resources allow will be shaped by a new program, Network Now. Engagement around this new five-year plan will begin in 2023. More information can be found at

Transit Signal Priority (TSP)

At signalized intersections, traffic signals play a critical role in controlling the flow and movement of road users. Transit Signal Priority helps buses avoid being stopped by red lights at intersections, reducing delays. TSP works best on congested intersections along busy routes.

Bus Corridor Projects 

Metro Transit partners with cities and counties to improve transit speed and reliability along high-ridership corridors served by one or more urban local bus routes. These improvements are often coordinated with a city or county project to resurface or redesign a street.   

Common strategies include:

  • Installing bus lanes or other transit advantages to keep buses moving in congested areas

  • Implementing transit signal priority to give the bus more green time at select signalized intersections

  • We sometimes test the concept through temporary changes to allow planners to see effects on traffic, gather public feedback, and measure changes to route performance. If the initial results are favorable, the lessons learned are incorporated into the final plans for implementing permanent changes.    

  • Consolidating bus stops to provide a more consistent trip with the bus having to stop and start less frequently

  • Reducing time at the bus stop by adding ways for customers to pay their fares before boarding

Consolidate bus stops

It seems counterintuitive that removing bus stops would improve service.  But by spacing bus stops up to a one-quarter of a mile apart, buses don’t have to stop as frequently, which has the resulting benefits:  

  • Reduces overall travel time

  • Helps buses stay on schedule

  • Makes the trip more consistent and reduces delays

  • Provides a smoother ride with less starting and stopping

When working on a Better Bus Route project, Metro Transit planners carefully analyze each stop and consider the following factors to remove it or keep it:

  • Distance between stops

  • Ridership

  • Transfers to other bus or rail service

  • Adjacent destinations such as hospitals, schools, or grocery stores

  • Roadway design such as street crossings, signals, and sidewalks

  • Existing transit facilities

Improve accessibility

The Better Bus Routes program also makes improvements to sidewalks, pedestrian signage, and visibility. Metro Transit employees complete a detailed audit of the route to determine if any bus stops do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Most non-compliant stops can be fixed by adding a concrete boarding pad. In rare cases where it is not possible or practical to make a bus stop ADA-compliant, staff determine if the stop should be removed or if other mitigations are possible.

Improve the waiting experience

The Better Bus Route program continues the mission of Metro Transit’s Better Bus Stops program to increase shelter availability and transit information at bus stops. But unlike Better Bus Stops, Better Bus Routes focuses these improvements to stops along a specific route. Metro Transit uses these shelter placement guidelines to prioritize stops that get shelters.

Other improvement strategies

Project staff examine all aspects of the route to identify other areas of improvement. Additional strategies we consider include:

  • Increasing the frequency of service, as resources allow, to provide more trip times

  • Implementing transit signal priority to give the bus each green time at select signalized intersections

  • Changing the route alignment to improve directness or simplify complex branches

  • Installing bus lanes or other transit advantages to provide consistent travel times in congested areas\


Many projects and improvements are in coordination with other local government entities, including cities, counties, and MnDOT. Their contributions help transit improve our services and reliability. Oftentimes, transit projects can only be realized once these entities complete their projects.


To succeed, these projects rely on good data. Data sources common across all projects includes ridership, on-time performance, passenger delay, and travel speeds. We use this information, along with previous customer comments, input from operators, and additional data gathered from field assessments, to inform our recommendations.

We have seen very positive results from the four completed Better Bus Route projects. On Route 3 and Route 63, median travel times have decreased 3-7%, while the range of travel times have decreased 8-30%. So while these routes are modestly faster, they are significantly more reliable. We also have many more riders waiting at sheltered bus stops (up to 88% of all riders on Route 2), improved accessibility, and more service where demand is highest.