MSA, students push to change bus routes

Ridership is up, but some students say campus bus routes need to change.

Kaitlyn Walek

The Minnesota Student Association Facilities, Housing and Transit Committee passed a resolution Tuesday urging the University of Minnesota to revise its campus bus routes.

MSA surveyed about 50 University students at a recent forum regarding bus route changes that were made in December. The survey found that students feel bus routes aren’t as efficient as they could be. Student government leaders now plan to work with the University’s Parking and Transportation Services to make changes.

David Busacker, one of the resolution’s authors, said many students wanted more frequent Washington Avenue Bridge Circulator service and more bus options for Dinkytown. Students also felt that the East Bank Circulator was underutilized, he said.

“Now that there’s three different buses, it makes it a lot more complicated,” biochemistry senior Lauren Anderson said.

Despite the route changes, University Parking and Transportation Services spokeswoman Jacqueline Brudlos said ridership is up for all campus bus routes.

The East Bank Circulator’s ridership in January was up by nearly 2,400 people from the same month last year, she said, and the Washington Avenue Bridge Circulator also had more riders.

Though routes are different from last year, Brudlos attributed the ridership increase to a number of factors, including a harsh winter and longer operating hours.

MSA also found that students were generally pleased with the campus buses’ extended hours, Busacker said.

But strategic communications junior Bridget Scott said she’s still concerned with how the bus routes are structured, primarily for safety reasons.

Bus stops at campus hubs such as Coffman Union and Willey Hall are helpful, she said, but Dinkytown is underserved.

“My primary concern is safety and what’s available. I know there’s Gopher Chauffeur and other resources, but they’re not always as frequent [as buses],” Scott said.

Brudlos said University-sponsored buses only focus on getting students transported around campus. For off-campus transportation, Brudlos said PTS recommends using the city buses with campus buses.

Many students have voiced concern about losing a campus bus connecting Sanford Hall and the recreation center, Brudlos said, so PTS is monitoring the new Weekend Circulator, which connects the buildings, to determine demand for reinstating a more frequent bus on that line.

Both MSA and PTS will continue seeking feedback throughout the spring and summer months to determine any necessary bus route changes.

“We are monitoring demand on the buses, feedback that we’re getting and considering the light-rail impact once that gets into service,” Brudlos said.