City bus shelters to be removed

City bus shelters to be removed

Benjamin Farniok

Metro Transit is working on removing bus shelters citywide — including two near the University of Minnesota — due to low ridership at the stops.
 
Metro Transit began taking down about 20 relatively unused bus shelters on Friday, though buses will still pick up passengers at those stops. Experts say the change could force riders to migrate to different stops, and students have mixed feelings.
 
At the University, the shelters scheduled for removal sit on University Avenue Southeast near the Recreation and Wellness Center and on Fourth Street Southeast near Ridder Arena. 
 
The shelters are coming down due to few riders at their locations and because they’ve reached the end of their 20-year lifespans, said Metro Transit spokesman Howie 
Padilla.
 
In Minneapolis, buses must pick up at least 40 passengers per day at a particular stop for that location to be eligible for a shelter. Once the structure is up, more than 20 riders need to visit the spot every day to keep the shelter going. 
 
The shelter near the Recreation and Wellness Center housed eight passengers daily, Padilla said.
 
Metro Transit officials monitor ridership at the city’s bus stops year-round to ensure all sheltered locations remain economical and efficient, he said.
 
Bus shelters can reduce the perceived time a rider spends at a specific spot, make the stop seem safer and provide riders with a way to hide from wind, rain and snow, said Humphrey School of Public Affairs research fellow Andrew Guthrie.
 
Removing shelters can cause riders to use different stops that do have shelters, though some will endure poor weather conditions in exchange for taking the shortest route to their destination, he said.
 
Students who frequently board buses at the University’s two shelters slated to be removed have differing outlooks on the change.
 
Physics graduate student Ryan Marshall said he recently made the stop near Ridder Arena with a shelter his first choice. He said he doesn’t plan on looking for an alternative,
despite plans for the shelter’s removal.
 
“Personally, I don’t really care. It doesn’t affect me,” Marshall said. “I plan on using the stop a lot in the future.”
 
In contrast, political science senior Sara Larson said the removal of that shelter would make her bus wait unpleasant.
 
“It kind of sucks, just because it gets cold during the winter,” Larson said. She uses the Fourth Street stop when traveling to and from work every day.
 
Still, removing rarely used bus shelters could open the door for stops with greater ridership to become potential candidates for a shelter, Guthrie said.
 
“With more than 12,000 bus stops … [we have to consider] which of those most benefits the largest population of riders and the community at large,” Padilla said.