North Minneapolis resident Charles Hallman is well acquainted with public transportation. But now in addition to boarding Metro Transit buses and light rail trains he’s become a fan of the more personalized door-to-door rides available through Metro Transit micro.
Metro Transit micro is a new option that provides on-demand service. It uses mini-buses to pick riders up and drop them off at an exact destination within the North Minneapolis service area.
“I don’t have a car anymore and this gives me a different level of service. I used it yesterday to pick up my prescription,” said Hallman, 67, a retired teacher and working writer. “I live a few blocks from the closest bus stop and this closes a gap for me.”
The bright blue and white minibusses can travel on city streets to make easy customized pickups at homes, churches, stores, businesses, and other transit route stops in North Minneapolis.
Riders can summon a Metro Transit mini-bus using the Metro Transit app similar to the way they connect with app-enabled ride-share services like Lyft and Uber—but at a far lower price.
Metro Transit micro rides cost the same as regular local bus fare and transfers are free to regular buses and LRT. Riders can pay with cash, a Go-To Card, or the Metro Transit app. TAP cards and reduced-fare cards are also accepted. To transfer to an express bus or Northstar, you must purchase an additional express or Northstar ticket.
A fleet of five microbuses is available to the North Minneapolis service area so wait times are minimal, usually under 10 minutes. The mini-buses are operating between 5 am and midnight.
“We wanted to focus on improving access to the existing transit system, especially to low-income and BIPOC communities who can benefit from service on demand,” said Victoria Dan, transit planner with Metro Transit.
“Some people are using the microservice regularly but others ride occasionally if they miss their bus or their car isn’t working. Some riders like it when they’re shopping and their arms are full of grocery bags,” she added.
Using a smartphone is not the only way to access Metro Transit micro. Hallman, who said, “I’m not an app person,” prefers to book the Metro Transit micro mini-bus by making a phone call to 651-602-1170.
A pilot project, Metro Transit micro launched in September and will run for a year. Hallman hopes his fellow North Minneapolis residents will take advantage of the option to demonstrate its value so the service will continue and maybe even expand.
“Especially in winter, walking to the bus isn’t always senior-friendly. It’s not so easy to get back up when you fall in slippery weather,” he said. “This is really handy.”