I really can't remember that last time I rode the bus, but this was a great story by MPR the other day about bus ridership in the Twin Cities region. While the good news is that ridership is up, this story really demonstrates that how our 50 years of sprawl are making it difficult for some to use public transit.
Americans collectively make billions of trips a year -- to work, shopping, to the corner store. But the number of trips made via mass transit is still a very small piece of the pie -- just 2 percent, according to some national research. On a given workday in the Twin Cities, fewer than 10 percent of commuter trips are by transit, according to the Metropolitan Council. But the selective use of trip statistics irks Twin Cities Metro Transit spokesman Bob Gibbons. Gibbons says a more meaningful measure is to look at how many people ride buses at critical times -- at rush hour, for example.
Metro Transit says its surveys show lots of people want to ride the bus. But there aren't any bus routes close to them, or bus trips take too long, or buses don't run often enough. The excuses, of course, are often true. Laura Graves describes as "fantastic" the bus service from Edina to downtown Minneapolis, when she worked there. Now she lives in Minnetonka with a job way across town in Woodbury, a commute that is a transit desert. "I investigated the bus option and there's nothing, there is absolutely nothing. There wasn't a way to make it work," said Graves. So, every workday she endures a 45-60 minute commute each way.