An odd solution to the bus burden on Bryant

For many decades we enjoyed bus service every 15 minutes on the No. 4 bus route between 46th and 50th streets on Bryant. Then about 10 years ago Metro Transit moved the No. 46 bus route, which formerly operated between 46th and 50th Streets on Nicollet, to this same stretch on Bryant. Two years ago Metro Transit moved still another route, the 146, off of Lyndale between 46th and 50th streets to Bryant. As a result of these changes made by Metro Transit, residents on Bryant complained to 13th Ward Council Member Linea Palmisano who concluded that we needed to “share the burden” of the buses. Unfortunately the “solution” to alleviating this “bus burden,” devised by Metro Transit and concurred in by Palmisano and other local government officials is truly bizarre.

On Dec. 12, 2015, the No. 4 bus on Bryant Ave. S. between 46th and 50th Streets was split to operate on both Lyndale and Bryant Avenues, with every other bus going down a different street. It goes without saying that this new system is much more cumbersome and confusing than when all the No. 4’s operated on Bryant. This especially true for riders, including many Minneapolis Public School students, who transfer from the east-west route 46 bus to the northbound No. 4 in this area.

These riders do not know if they should get off at Lyndale to catch the next northbound bus or stay on Bryant. If you get off on the wrong corner, you are in for a longer wait of up to a half an hour, one hour on Sunday. Hennepin County Commissioner Greene suggested that we use smart phones to track the buses, but this is not an option for all riders, especially for those of more limited means. Neither is carrying around a pocketful of bus schedules. Basically what has happened is that something that worked well for decades has been made needlessly confusing and complex. Why did Metro Transit elect to split the No. 4 route onto two streets instead of rescinding one of its earlier decisions and merely return the 146 to Lyndale or the 46 to Nicollet between 46th and 50th Streets?

The solution of splitting the No. 4 is universally disdained by every transit rider and bus driver that I have talked with. One bus driver told me that even their transit supervisors opposed the change. We all know that taking transit is far more cumbersome and time consuming than using a personal automobile. Making ridership even more difficult, such as was done on Bryant Ave. S., can only lead to further reductions in transit use.

Given that global warming is the major environmental issue facing the world today, do Council Member Palimisano, Commissioner Greene or Metro Transit feel that discouraging transit use will help reduce greenhouse gases? Not everyone in Minneapolis wants to use a car. We need to start looking as buses as an asset not as the “burden” felt by Council Member Palmisano. That type of thinking seems much more apt for an outer ring suburb.

John Gaertner