Bus stop surveys could change transit accessibility

Metro Transit will use the survey data to improve stops in various areas.

Raj Chaduvula

Bus stops in Cedar-Riverside and other Minneapolis neighborhoods could get a facelift based on information from a new user survey.

This year, Metro Transit began an extensive community engagement project to survey several different neighborhoods to find how to improve bus stops in the areas. Recently, Cedar-Riverside officials started the surveys in their neighborhood.

The survey is part of a $4 million federal grant awarded to Metro Transit.

Howie Padilla, Metro Transit’s public relations manager, said the project aims to make the bus stops more user-friendly and inviting.

“[The project] is to get people used to the bus stops and also get people who have not previously used the stops … engaged,” he said.

The project is focused in areas of concentrated poverty where the population of people of color is 50 percent or more, Padilla said.

Metro Transit hired contractors to work with community organizations on the survey, Padilla said. The contractors include the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability and Nexus Community Partners.

Joan Vanhala, coalition organizer for AMS, said community organizations looked for small, grassroots groups to help the project.

These groups would have the best knowledge of their neighborhoods’ needs, she said.  In Cedar-Riverside, Metro Transit partnered with the West Bank Community Coalition to complete the task. 

Mohamed Mohamed, WBCC’s former executive director, said the group got $23,000 from Metro Transit for the surveys. WBCC began conducting them recently with the help of volunteers, including some University students.

The project will eventually improve amenities and equity of bus stops in the area, he said. According to Mohamed, the survey will make sure no neighborhood lacks quality bus stops.

Padilla said the survey asks transit-users to judge bus stops in terms of location, number of stops and design.

Mohamed said another factor the survey looks to improve is accessibility and, in particular, language translations. The majority of people in Cedar-Riverside are Somali, Mohamed said, and language translations at bus stops could prove useful.

Padilla said Metro Transit has also participated in similar language barrier training before. Many employees of Metro Transit have learned Somali and Spanish to be more welcoming, he said.

He said the eventual physical changes to bus stops are  included in the $4 million grant.

The main goal of the project is to add up to 150 bus stops and improve another 75 in the areas, Padilla said. Padilla said Metro Transit has worked with communities and neighborhoods in the past on different engagement projects.

“But [this project] is more extensive than anything Metro Transit has done … [and] is unique and new,” Padilla said.

The project will run until next March, he said.