U tests limited-stop Connector routes

Pamela Steinle

Soon, people traveling between St. Paul and the West Bank might not have to wait as long at Campus Connector stops.

The University started testing two new limited-stop routes Nov. 26. The new routes only stop at five of the 10 bus stops to accommodate those who travel between campuses.

“It really isn’t my brainchild. It came from listening to people on the streets who can’t get from Blegen to St. Paul,” said transit manager Bill Stahlmann.

The bus runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and stops at the St. Paul Student Center, the state fairgrounds, the West Huron parking lot, Moos Towers and Blegen Hall.

The limited-stop bus is expected to make a round trip in 35 minutes, compared to the regular route’s 45 minutes.

The bus discourages students from riding short distances, which is a major concern for transit officials and students alike.

For example, the bus doesn’t stop at Coffman Union, which prevents students who only ride over the Washington Avenue Bridge from slowing down the inter-campus commute.

Graduate student Brian Mueller, who rides from Blegen Hall to the St. Paul
campus every day, said he thinks the new routes will decrease his ride time.

“Too many people ride the bus across the bridge,” Mueller said. “The bus stops too often and it takes up to half an hour to get from West Bank to St. Paul.”

But some are afraid the new route won’t solve any of the Campus Connector problems.

Business management freshman Erich Dummer said although the route will help him and others who travel from Blegen to Moos Towers, he isn’t sure the overall system will improve with the new route.

“It seems the buses are so short-handed,” Dummer said. “There’s not that many. It’s just going to create a problem.”

But Stahlmann said the new route would not interfere with the five-minute service.

The two limited-stop buses add to the 21 buses that already run during peak times.

Sara Stearns, a human resources development junior, said she thinks adding more buses would decrease the frustration students experience when they wait for long periods of time and then see two buses arrive behind each other.

Stahlmann said additional buses would not help because the problem lies in the congestion on Washington Avenue.

During peak times, a total of 102 buses travel along Washington Avenue in one hour. Maneuvering around other buses, waiting while vehicles make right- or left-hand turns, and sitting at traffic lights contribute to bus delays.

Eventually, buses catch up with each other, he said.

“I could keep adding buses, but people don’t understand that they have nowhere to go,” Stahlmann said.