Friday, April 4, 2008

Multi-Modal Transportation

I've been envisaging this blog entry for a couple days, but it's not quite going to be like I thought.

This week (like most weeks) I went to and from work 5 times, for 10 trips. 2 of those I ran, 2 I biked, 2 I carpooled, 2 I drove, and after tonight, 2 I will have used public transit. This works out to equal usage of 5 different types of transportation, for a roughly 80% drop in my carbon footprint. I was pretty jazzed about that when I thought about it. I was all set to blog about how easy it is to compile a "toolkit" of multiple transportation options (of which car travel generally has to be an option). The key is to try each option and become comfortable with it so that each day, depending on what one needs to do before/during/after work, an appropriate decision on transportation can be made, hopefully with the end result that a less fossil fuel-dependent option is selected.

While that was the hope of the blog. That is NOT what's on my mind now. Basically, Metro Transit sucks. Big time. I live 10 miles from my office in Edina, and generally, it takes 15-20 minutes to drive, 40 to bike, 75 to run, and now, apparently, it takes 80 to take the bus. For the second time in 2 years, Metro Transit has changed the route that serves me to make it substantially longer. Of course, I didn't realize this until I was on the bus and wondering why we kept going back and forth across 494. I need to go WEST, not zig-zag north and south. If REI was open, I would have stopped for a while. I'm sure the bus would have waited for me while I shopped.

Seriously, Metro Transit, this is the 2nd time in 4 years you have changed my route and made it substantially LONGER. I used to be able to take the bus to work in 35-40 minutes via Southdale. That route was canceled so then I took the 45 minute route via Light Rail and the Mall of America. Now, apparently, the route I took needed to serve more areas of Bloomington, hence my longer commute and $2 tour of Bloomington this morning. Metro Transit, you wonder why ridership goes down in the burbs, I have the answer for you.

Obviously, I understand the economics of why routes are canceled when ridership is low. What I don't get is why a route will be changed to meander more. If ridership is low, making the commute even longer will kill ridership on that line. So, goodbye, 540C. I have a feeling this change will kill you. It's like moving a sitcom from Tuesday to Friday night. You can spin it as a positive change, but it really means the end is near.

Thank goodness for biking and warmer temps!

(editor's note: I just read on Metro Transit's site that there is a temporary detour due to a bridge being taken out. That still doesn't explain why the bus had to cross 494 so many times, or why they can't have 2 buses now to serve each area as quickly as before. They are going to kill ridership with this long detour.)


Ed Kohler said...

Sounds like you need to get your company to move their office downtown.

Ginger said...

Maybe the route isn't meant to serve commuters? Obviously it works best if someone needs to stop at one of the shops along the route - or even for people who work there. When ridership is low, one of the ways to raise it is to add stops to the route.

Nathan said...

Ed, I would LOVE that, but alas we've signed a lease for many moons. And not many civil engineering firms I know have offices downtown.

Ginger, adding more stops doesn't increase ridership, that's my point. It frustrates people like me who then give up on transit. This route isn't a major route, but I should be able to piece together 2 routes to get me to work in a reasonable time, especially since I live 2 blocks from LRT and have buses going down my street all day. Yet there's a disconnect. I also suspect the lack of coordination between the suburban lines and MetroTransit contributes to the frustration of a reverse commutor like me.