A Vision For A Better Route 2/Franklin Avenue Transit Corridor

This past summer, Metro Transit announced that they were implementing a series of changes to Route 2 to improve performance. Changes that are being implemented include:

  • Playing an audio announcement that says “Please Exit The Buses Through The Back Door” at Franklin & Chicago and Coffman Union
  • Relocating and eliminating bus stops
  • Adding shelters and making the waiting areas bigger
  • Implementing the ability for buses to request green lights

The Twin Cities Transit Riders Union supports a transit system that prioritizes the needs of those most impacted and affected. However, we are concerned about Metro Transit’s ability to deliver this project that is inclusive of all transit riders. Our concerns that we wish to have addressed include community engagement, consideration of removing and retaining certain stops, as well as considering additional enhancements to improve Route 2 and Franklin Avenue corridor service.

Community Engagement

Metro Transit staff speak with Open House attendees about changes to Route 2 on June 6, 2018

Metro Transit has conducted inadequate outreach and engagement about this project, especially given that ridership on the corridor is heavily comprised of transit-dependent, immigrant, and BIPOC communities. Concerns about outreach have been demonstrated by the agency through its:

  • Failure to announce an open house of the project until a week before the open house was scheduled to happen
  • Failure to hold multiple open house meetings at different hours so transit riders of diverse backgrounds could participate
  • Failure to translate materials, including a project survey, in languages spoken along the corridor, including Spanish, Somali, Oromo, Amharic, and Dakota
  • Failure to make the project survey available in other forms aside from online and paper at the open house. During our canvasses on the corridor, some riders indicated they do not have internet or phone access.
  • Failure to make translated, pre-recorded announcements about this project onboard the buses
  • Failure to keep corridor organizations adequately engaged about the project, including choosing to release the final list of stops to Open Streets Franklin attendees, without reaching out to our organization, as well as at least two other neighborhood organizations beforehand

We have attempted to address these issues with the agency to little avail. Though Metro Transit has apologized for their inadequate community engagement, since they intend to move forward with these changes, the Twin Cities Transit Riders Union request that Metro Transit conduct quarterly meetings on the state of transit on the Franklin corridor, beginning in November, in order to provide a platform for transit riders to voice their concerns and ideas on making Route 2 and all Franklin Avenue routes better.

Bus Stop Removals And Relocation For Reconsideration

While we understand the purpose of removing bus stops that are one block away from other bus stops with heavier usage, we are concerned that some of these bus stops being removed serve important institutions along the corridor. These stops include:

  • Westbound Franklin and S 1st Ave. While a block away from the Nicollet stop, people who are blind and visually impaired have a tendency to offboard at this stop on weekday mornings
  • Franklin and Park in both directions. The stop serves a major park, and residents living adjacent to the stop are concerned about its removal.
  • Franklin and S 10th Ave. in both directions. This stop serves one of two Somali Malls in Minneapolis, located two blocks south

We ask that the agency reconsider eliminating stops that serve major institutions as outlined, and to engage with organizations and individuals who use these stops. If outreach and engagement has been conducted, we request that the agency reach out to us with the date that the outreach was conducted, and who their point of contact was.

We are also confused about the plans to relocate the westbound stop at Franklin & Chicago from the farside to the nearside. Franklin and Chicago was highlighted by Our Streets Minneapolis as one of the city’s most dangerous intersections. The current stop provides a seamless transfer to the southbound Route 5. Relocating this stop would necessitate crossing the street to transfer to both routes, as well as delay Route 2. While we understand that the relocation is to better facilitate transfers from the D-Line, we request that the westbound stop not be relocated until the project is complete.

Additional Recommended Bus Stop Removals

We also support removing the following stops for the following reasons that do not appear to be removed in the final plan:

  • Eastbound Washington Ramp, as this stop is about 200 feet from a stop at Cedar and S 3rd Street. From the map, we do not know whether or not this bus stop is staying or will be eliminated.
  • Eastbound E Hennepin and SE 7th Ave, as this stop is ½ a block from the eastern terminal
  • If the Electric Fetus stop is eliminated, we also support the elimination of westbound Franklin and Clinton, as this stop is one block away from the stop at Franklin and S 3rd Ave

Signal Priority

In 1986, St. Cloud became one of the first cities to allow buses to request green lights citywide. The technology has since expanded to allow emergency vehicles access to this feature throughout the State. Implementing this on the Route 2 corridor will allow buses to leave an intersection in a timely manner. The working group highly supports this change, and wishes that this is expedited before any bus stops are removed.

Wider Sidewalks

Typical sidewalk conditions on Franklin Avenue during the winter.

Every transit rider begins and ends their journey as a pedestrian. On most of Franklin, the sidewalk is 4’ wide, the bare minimum standard for the ADA. During the winter, people with limited mobility are often forced to walk on the street due to inadequately-maintained and inaccessible sidewalks. Wider sidewalks, or at least bumpouts, on all of Franklin Avenue, combined with better sidewalk maintenance, will make walking easier for all, and make bus stop elimination more manageable.

Regarding the proposed stop at 10th Ave and 5th St SE, the City of Minneapolis plans to convert 10th Ave to a protected bike lane in 2019. To avoid conflicts with bicycle/vehicle traffic, we propose that a floating bus stop be considered. Current conditions at the intersection with the marked crossing and high pedestrian/bicycle traffic would also benefit from a floating stop.

Queue Jump Lanes

Mission and 24th in San Francisco. The red painted lanes are transit-only lanes. At this intersection, all traffic except for buses are forced to make a right turn. Source: Google Street View

On most of Franklin, buses often have to wait behind traffic before they can cross an intersection to get to a bus stop. As a result, buses often get delayed significantly. Some cities in the United States address similar issues by creating a dedicated lane for a short distance that allows enough space for buses to bypass traffic, allowing it to get to an intersection faster. At the most congested intersections, Metro Transit should install queue jump lanes at intersections with enhanced signaling to evaluate its effects on Franklin Avenue transit travel time. Locally, only one example of a queue jump lane exists, at the N 4th St and N 1st Ave offramp.

Waiting Amenities

Finally, we are excited to see that there will be more shelters installed along the corridor. Shelters are immensely helpful in the winter for keeping transit riders warm. As a request, we would also like to see shelters installed with light and heat at every remaining stop.

Take Action!

Have more ideas to make Franklin Avenue Transit better? We invite you to join our Working Group. Our next meeting is at the Member Meeting, which is this Wednesday, September 26th. If you’re on our mailing list, please update your preferences and indicate that you are interested in “Franklin Avenue Transit”.

Also, please contact Metro Transit staff and all officials involved. Their contact information can be found below:

Metro Transit Staff:

  • Brian Lamb, General Manager, brian.lamb@metrotransit.org
  • Cyndi Harper, Director of Planning, cyndi.harper@metrotransit.org
  • Michael Mechtenberg, Senior Planner, michael.mechtenberg@metrotransit.org

Met Council Members:

  • Cara Letofsky, Cara.Letofsky@metc.state.mn.us
  • Gary Cunningham, gary.cunningham@metc.state.mn.us

Hennepin County Commissioners:

  • Peter McLaughlin, District 4, commissioner.mclaughlin@hennepin.us
  • Marion Greene, District 3, marion.greene@hennepin.us

City of Minneapolis Councilmembers:

  • Cam Gordon, Ward 2, cam.gordon@minneapolismn.gov
  • Steve Fletcher, Ward 3, steve.fletcher@minneapolismn.gov
  • Abdi Warsame, Ward 6, abdi.warsame@minneapolismn.gov
  • Lisa Bender, Ward 10, lisa.bender@minneapolismn.gov

We will also be working with Metro Transit to get the word out about stop changes in the coming weeks. Details to come.