New bus transfers give riders two-way tickets

by Heather Fors

By summer, students who ride Metro Transit buses will have the Twin Cities at their fingertips without having to dig too deep into their pockets.
Riders will be able to get their hands on a ticket to anywhere in the metro area for the price of a one-way fare after June 30. Currently, if a student wants to go to downtown Minneapolis, they must pay to get there as well as to come back to campus.
With the new Metro Transit transfer system policy, passengers need only pay once to have unlimited rides, in any direction, for about two hours.
Robert Gibbons, director of customer services and marketing for Metro Transit, said the change was inspired by the need to make busses operate more efficiently.
It now takes three seconds to print the bus route number, travel time and travel direction on the back of a transfer ticket. The new transfers would only take one second to come out of the fare box.
Metro Transit is also looking for other ways to make better time. Within the next two years, officials will look for ways to improve bus route efficiency by evaluating every route and possibly implementing new types of fare payment at park and ride lots.
For extension student Janeen Lau, who takes the city bus to work downtown daily, fairness to the passengers is more important than timeliness.
She said riders shouldn’t have to pay more than once if they are only going somewhere for between 15 minutes to an hour.
Psychology student Miayumi Ebihara said this new transfer system would be a great advantage.
“I don’t have a car so the city buses are really important,” Ebihara said. She rides the city buses because they are cheap and can get her anywhere. She added, however, that she will definitely ride the buses more often once the new transfer system is in place because of its convenience.
Institute of Technology freshman Jill Iverson frequents the downtown public library but does not like the current system of paying for the bus twice. She said she usually walks to the library from her house just east of Interstate Highway 35W and then rides the bus home.
“The bus is really the only option for me,” Iverson said. She also said she cannot afford a car or the parking and insurance costs that go with it.
Iverson added that with the new transfer system she might be inclined to go to the library more often.
Gibbons said although Metro Transit hopes to increase ridership, the success of the program isn’t guaranteed.
Right now Metro Transit can’t predict whether they will lose money in additional bus rides or make a profit from increased ridership. Therefore, the new transfer system will be implemented on a trial basis until June 1999.