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Hopkins Schools: Metro Transit Routes Should Better Serve Students

With Metro Transit identifying possible Minnetonka busing changes, the school district wants routes closer to the high school with better times for families.

officials are encouraging residents to ask Metro Transit for bus routes that work better for students and parents.

In an e-mail notice last week, the Legislative Action Coalition urged the public to ask Metro Transit to redirect Route 615 around Hillside Lane to pass and expand hours of operation so students and parents can attend evening events. 

The LAC’s notice follows criticism School Board Director Steve Adams made about the routes at the May 31 School Board meeting.

“It really doesn’t benefit students that may have to take the Metro Transit to school or want to stay after school for extracurricular activities or go to athletic events or plays or band concerts or whatever in the evening,” he said.

Metro Transit, in cooperation with Minnetonka, is reviewing bus service in the city in order to consider possible service changes. The organization hosted an open house May 23 to solicit opinions on bus service within the city. The organization is considering several route changes—including an extension to Route 615—but the changes school district officials want were not among them.

Adams said the current route doesn’t work because the nearest stop is two to three blocks away from the high school and buses only run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those limitations make it difficult for families to use public transportation for school events.

“Bus service isn’t close enough and it isn’t at hours that are convenient for students at the high school—or junior high, for that matter,” he said.

As part of the study, Metro Transit is reviewing demographics and how frequently people use the bus. A 2011 Minnetonka residential survey found that transit service in the community is focused on express service to downtown Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota—with the highest boarding activity on the two Interstate 394 Park and Rides.

Only about a fifth of residents have taken a bus in the past two years, according to the survey. Of those, 13 percent are daily riders and 55 percent ride less than monthly.

However, special events, the state fair and sporting events were the most popular reasons for riding the bus—accounting for a combined 51 percent of ridership. By contrast, 28 percent of those who rode the bus used it for work.

Metro Transit aims to have its report complete by the end of June, said Bruce Howard, a spokesman for the organization. It will then meet with Minnetonka to review the work and get a sense on whether there is agreement on the plan. If there is, the plan will go before the Metropolitan Council in late summer or early fall.

Actual implementation will not take place before March 2013.

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Click here to view full details about Metro Transit’s Minnetonka study and to offer feedback.

 

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Lisa Gignac June 12, 2012 at 01:15 PM
When I was a kid, we had to walk 5 blocks to get to the bus stop. I don't think it's financially responsible for parents to demand a bus to make extra stops, unless there are extenuating circumstances (child with disabilities), all of which would add extra expense to the school district and taxpayers. I am a parent and live in Hopkins so obviously I'm an interested party.
James Warden June 12, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Just so it's clear, the proposal is looking at Metro Transit bus routes, not school bus routes. While extra stops would cost Metro Transit more, it would not cost the school district more since the two entities are separate.
Chris June 12, 2012 at 06:06 PM
It is a catch-22. The current routes only serve live-in-Hopkins, work-in-Minneapolis, and rider surveys show this. I would love to ride the bus to work, but there is no easy way to get from Hopkins to New Hope. It takes 2 hours by bus! Perhaps we need some circulator routes in the outlying cities, and some connector routes that *do not* connect via downtown Minneapolis. Serving the schools and local communities would be a great start to that.

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