Better Bus Stops Program
“Improving our transit service by reducing travel times and upgrading YOUR bus experience.”
The Twin Ports community has expressed a strong desire for improvements to travel times, reliability, and bus stops. The Better Bus Stops Program will address two high-priority objectives – investments at targeted bus stops to improve the passenger experience and a bus stop balancing initiative to consolidate and optimize the number of stops.
Balancing stops means adding and removing current stops based on feedback and data to improve the DTA’s efficiency, reliability, travel times, and safety. While we can’t feasibly improve every stop, the bus stop balancing effort will help us make strategic investments with the limited funding available.
Recently, the DTA invested in several bus stop improvements to make your experience waiting for the bus more enjoyable. Thirty-five aging shelters, over 40 years old, were recently replaced, and another 18 shelter replacements are already planned in 2021/2022. In addition, solar lights were successfully piloted in 10 shelters and the DTA anticipates adding this feature to more locations soon.
There are several more investments planned in the coming years. Over $2 million in funding has been programmed for bus stop improvements over the next 5 years. Investments will improve:
- Accessibility – Improvements to the boarding and waiting area surfaces
- Amenities – Seating, new and replacement shelters, bike storage, real-time bus arrival information
- Safety – Solar lighting where there is limited lighting
- Bus Stop Signage – Better visibility of every sign and additional information
- Park and Ride/transfer points – Improved surfaces, lighting, and better waiting areas
Bus Stop Balancing
Less Stop, More Go
Through community surveys, we’ve learned that most people want to get from point A to B faster. Taking trips by mass transit can inherently take longer than a personal car would because you are sharing your trip with several others. If stops are too close together, the time spent on the bus can take even longer and lead to a frustrating journey. Studies have found that boardings can take about 32% of a bus’s operational time. We understand that to increase ridership, we must rebalance our bus stop spacing and have more reliable service. Within the DTA’s service area there are about 1,600 bus stops that are often as close as one block apart.
Consolidation of bus stops can significantly improve on-time performance and the ability to effectively invest in amenities (shelters, lighting, larger waiting areas, benches, bike storage, heating, and more). Additional benefits include improving the rider experience by increasing the overall speed of the system to be more efficient. Cleaning and maintenance are other considerations. Having so many stops to maintain makes it very difficult for our staff to respond to cleaning and maintenance needs. Stopping every block also puts strain on our buses, leading to additional maintenance costs, and creates more safety risks when weaving in and out of traffic.
The Bus Stop Balancing project has examined every bus stop for usage, safety for all users of the street, the distance between bus stops, elevations, sidewalk accessibility for persons with disabilities and mobility impairments, route transfers, and more. The objective when locating bus stops was to find a balance between speed (your riding time) and convenience of access (your walking distance to a bus stop). Balancing bus stop spacing should result in faster travel times for most, but it may require traveling slightly longer distances to access bus stops for some
Bus stops are the gateways to the Twin Port’s transit system, and we’d like to make them better. In accordance with industry best practice, the DTA is aiming for stops ¼ mile apart or every 2-3 blocks.
How do we decide which stops to keep and to remove?
In 2019, the DTA Board of Directors approved a Bus Stop Policy that set a direction for spacing and amenity improvements. For spacing, the policy states, “Generally, bus stops should be spaced every 1/8th to 1/4th mile (660 to 1320 ft.) (4-8 stops a mile). The DTA will make exceptions when unique circumstances exist.” There are many needs and factors to consider with bus stop spacing. Some of the considerations when balancing is:
- Mobility of passengers
- Average daily ridership at the stop
- Steep hills
- Climate and snow management
- Major trip generators
- Nearby multi-family senior or disabled residences
- Proximity to major employers, schools, health care, services, grocery stores, civic centers, and voting locations
- Safety – Waiting areas and sidewalks, traffic (speed, volumes, proximity), and the pedestrian network to the stop
- Transfer Points
What do These Changes Mean for Riders?
The Bus Stop Balancing project began with a thorough review of bus stops by DTA staff members. The review considered many things that are known through data and experience, however, there may be other circumstances or conditions we are not aware of or have overlooked. That’s where you come in! We need feedback from the community to make sure we are on the right path and have a solid plan moving forward. We thank you and appreciate the feedback you provide.
You may notice that some neighborhoods have more stops proposed for consolidation than others. This comes as a result of earlier balancing efforts connected to recent major roadway projects like Hwy 23 and Woodland Avenue, or the DTA felt that certain roadways posed too much of a safety risk presently to remove the stop but may do so if the pedestrian environment improves. Other areas have reduced routing with the Better Bus Blueprint plan, those stops are not shown because they will be removed since they will no longer have bus service.
Bus stop improvements will be prioritized and will gradually be completed based on the DTA’s available resources. As the Better Bus Blueprint is implemented, select stops will require additional infrastructure improvements if they are inadequate to be used as a stop today. If improvements can’t be made before implementation, the stop may need to be moved elsewhere temporarily or installation may be delayed. Plans for improvements and investments will be made over the next several years. Bus stops will be evaluated on a continuous basis and the DTA welcomes comments about stops at any time.
Go Lines Vs. Local Routes
You will notice two tiers of bus stops – Go Lines (Blue Line and Green line) and local routes. The Go Lines provide service every 15 minutes or less, while local routes run less often and may come every 20-60 minutes. The Blue Line (routes 101) and the Green Line (route 102) are designated high-frequency routes, as part of the Better Bus Blueprint, and will have farther bus stop spacing than local routes. Bus stops on the Go Lines will be spaced approximately every 2-6 blocks to ensure that service on those routes is fast and efficient.
We appreciate all of the feedback and the impact it has made in shaping the bus stop locations of the future. The DTA invites you to explore the Board-approved and officially revised bus stop locations reflecting the changes that will be implemented as part of the Better Bus Blueprint, an all-new bus network to better serve the community. Bus stop changes will happen concurrently with the launch of the new network. Signs will be posted at the stops proposed for relocation. An example of that sign below.
Opportunities to provide your feedback on our bus stop locations are always available, and we are always accepting comments via e-mail to [email protected] or at 218-623-4315.