Metro Transit plans to suspend several bus routes and reduce service on others on December 4, owing to an ongoing driver shortage, according to an internal email to staff sent on October 29 and corroborated by several agency sources.
The routes being suspended, which include the 12 Excelsior, 16 University, 19 Penn, 84 Snelling, 134 Cleveland, 223 Roseville, 579 University to Southdale connector, and 604 Louisiana, are based on ridership, access to alternative routes, as well as “reliance on transit service,” general manager Wes Kooistra said in the e-mail.
The agency also plans to extend Route 87 Cleveland to serve South Highland Park, reduce service on the A and Red Lines, as well as Routes 2 Franklin, 5 Chicago-Fremont, 6 Xerxes/France, 10 Central, 17 24th St-Uptown, 18 Nicollet, 21 Lake-Selby, 250 Blaine Express, and 270 Maplewood Express, suspend weekend service on Route 46 46th Street, and eliminate Routes 535 I-35W Normandale College express and 597.
The agency pledges to operate core local routes every 10 to 15 minutes; the A-Line will operate every 12 minutes, for example.
The 16, 19, and 84 have seen significantly depressed ridership since parallel, faster traveling routes—the A, C, and Green Lines—opened in the past decade, which signals the desire for transit riders to get to far-flung places faster.
Responding to this desire, Metro Transit plans to open the Orange Line, a freeway rapid bus connecting Downtown Minneapolis to Burnsville on I-35W replacing the 535 and 597, as well as restore the Route 94 stop on Snelling Avenue for the first time since 2014 when the Green Line opened.
To prepare for the Orange Line, which will operate every 15 minutes during the week and every 30 minutes on weekends, the agency will also realign Routes 7 Plymouth-Minnehaha, 515 66th Street, 537, 538, 539, 540 76th-77th Street, and 553 Portland.
The agency will also restore Route 542 American, which was suspended since the pandemic began, as well as introduce several new routes, including Route 501 to connect workers with opening shifts at FedEx at the airport, as well as 534, 546, and 547 to better connect the Orange Line with southwest Bloomington and Normandale College.
The agency plans to publish details about changes on the first week of November, as well as updated schedules on their website on November 20.
List of service changes Metro Transit plans to make on Dec. 4:
Suspended: 12, 16, 19, 46 (weekends only), 84, 134, 223, 579, 604
Eliminated: 535, 597
Created: Orange Line, 501, 534, 546, 547
Reduced: A Line (every 12 minutes), Red Line (every 30 minutes), 2, 5, 6, 10, 17, 18, 21, 250, 270
Realigned: 7, 87, 94, 515, 537, 538, 539, 540, 553
Henry Pan is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.