Metro Transit will adjust bus schedules across its system later this month, and some of the biggest changes will occur on Route 22.
More than 130 stops will be relocated or removed from the line, which runs between the Brooklyn Center Transit Center and the VA Medical Center in south Minneapolis, primarily along 28th, Lyndale and Cedar avenues. Two segments of Route 22 that branch off the main line will be cut and a third branch will be folded into a different route. Shelters will be added at some stops, and ramps to improve accessibility will be added at others.
It's all part of the agency's Better Bus Routes program, which hopes to "mimic bus rapid transit lines (BRT), but retain that local flavor," said project manager Michael Mechtenberg. "We take those [BRT] strategies and implement them at a slightly smaller scale."
Metro Transit operates four BRT lines in the Twin Cities and has had success retaining and attracting riders even as overall transit ridership has dropped since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. BRT lines operate similarly to light-rail trains, offering faster trips by stopping at stations spaced a quarter-mile or more apart.
A vast majority of Route 22 riders will continue to board at their current stop, but others will have a longer walk, Mechtenberg said. In return, riders should experience slightly faster trips and more consistency because service will be streamlined to where there is the most demand, he said.
When changes take effect Aug. 20, the G-branch that runs along 57th and 58th streets on the southern end of the line and the D-branch that runs along Dupont Avenue on the northern end will be eliminated. Metro Transit has modified Route 763 to cover a portion of Dupont Avenue in Brooklyn Center.
With its many branch routes, the 22 "was a single route trying to do a bit too much," Mechtenberg said. "When you have branches over a bigger area, it waters down service."
Some portions of the line saw service only once an hour. The remaining portions will now see service about every 20 minutes on weekdays and 30 minutes on weekends. The hope had been to increase frequency, too, but staffing shortages won't allow that now, Mechtenberg said.
Route 22, Metro Transit's 13th busiest line with about 2,600 riders a day, is the fourth to get the Better Bus Routes treatment. Metro Transit has completed Route 2 serving Franklin Avenue and the University of Minnesota, the 63 from the Energy Park area in St. Paul to the Sun Ray shopping center, and the 3 between downtown Minneapolis, the State Fairgrounds and downtown St. Paul.
Route 17 from Minneapolis to St. Louis Park could be next in line.
"A route is never set in stone," Mechtenberg said. "We make changes quarterly. We can add or reduce frequency or add a branch. We are trying to be more proactive and make changes people want to see."