Posted at: 04/01/2013 8:53 PM
Updated at: 04/02/2013 10:34 AM
By: Mark Albert
On the lightly-traveled 664 Express from downtown Minneapolis to St. Louis Park, Hopkins, and Minnetonka on Monday, about two thirds of the seats remained empty.
Chris Thompson occupied one of them, as she does every day to and from her St. Louis Park home.
"Very convenient," she said at the beginning of her afternoon commute. "I like to get home early and I don't like waiting for the later buses."
But soon, she and her fellow riders may have to start looking for alternatives, since the 664 Express in the afternoon and six other routes are on the chopping block.
The next bus on the 664 route is a half-hour later.
"That's too long of a wait," said a fellow rider who identified herself as Kay, but declined to give her last name. "We're business people. We need to get to work and get home."
The changes are part of the largest realignment of transit routes in the west metro in a decade, which Metro Transit officials outlined for residents Monday night at the first of two planned public hearings.
"We're always tailoring our service to try to match the demand with our resources," explained Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland.
Seven routes face changes. They are: 9C/9N, 615, 664, 665, 667E, 670, and 671. Click here to read more about the proposal and to see detailed proposed route maps.
Some riders would face longer travel times, while others would get faster commutes.
Naomi Walker and her husband are long-time believers in public transportation, having used Metro Transit for the past 14 years from their home in St. Louis Park.
"When we bought our house, that was our top thing, was - it had to be on a transit line," Walker said as she arrived the hearing.
While she may have to walk a bit farther to catch a bus if the proposed changes go into effect, she said that isn't what worries her about the plan.
"I am concerned about the people that live down, further down the route."
The next public hearing on the issue is Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 7p at the Hennepin County Ridgedale Library. Click here for more information.
According to Metro Transit, 2012 was the third straight year of ridership growth for its buses and routes.