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Transit, More Than a Ride—Improving Rider Experience.

Klion, Jessica.

In 2012, the District Councils Collaborative of Saint Paul and Minneapolis (DCC) partnered with Metro Transit in the Transit, More than a Ride—Trusted Advocate Pilot Project. The project sought to engage underrepresented communities in Metro Transit’s Central Corridor Transit Service Study, which focused on integrating existing bus service to the new light rail service. The project brought up a variety of issues with the bus system in the Twin Cities that went beyond the scope of the project. As a result of the Trusted Advocate Project, the DCC is further investigating these issues in their project, Transit, More than a Ride—Improving Rider Experience Project.

Bus networks are a key feature of public transit systems across the United States; however, these networks do not necessarily offer the best possible experience for all riders. Public transportation ridership in the United States and in the Twin Cities is on the rise, despite service cuts and fair increases. For a wide range of reasons, people are using public transportation more and more and will continue to use it, so engaging the community and making the bus riding experience as positive as possible is key.

This report looks into some of the more persistent issues of rider experience in the Twin Cities and attempts to provide examples, through case studies, of how other transit agencies and communities across the United States have tackled similar issues. In the Twin Cities, and across much of the United States, the most persistent problems associated with rider experience fall into three categories: safety, communication, and reliability and frequency. As the Trusted Advocates and outside research implied, safety and communication were multi-faceted problems. These issues, however, are fixable, as the case studies point out. The four selected case studies attempt to provide readers with a variety of different methods for community engagement and rider experience improvement. Ranging from local to national initiatives that are run by non-profits and transit agencies, the case studies all show the importance of open communication, a willingness to listen, and a commitment to changing people’s mind about the bus. As the case studies indicate, positive changes occur when community members are actively engaged in the decision-making process and transit agencies are willing to listen to rider complaints. Along with opening the lines of communication, other steps could also be taken in the Twin Cities to improve rider experience. These steps include adding additional lights and benches to bus stops, expanding the already existing Adopt-A-Shelter program, creating how-to materials for riders, and improving signage at stops and on the bus.

Publication date: 
Conducted on behalf of The District Councils Collaborative of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Supported by the Kris Nelson Community-Based Research Program, a program of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota.
29 pp.
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