While some people had the day after Thanksgiving off as a holiday and others took it as a personal day, many people still had to work Friday, and they had to get there. That prompted this question from a reader:
Q: Why did Metro Transit (and other service providers) offer reduced service, or in some cases none at all?
A: Metro Transit officials ran what they called a "Saturday Plus" schedule because of expected lower ridership. The transit agency deployed buses following its Saturday schedules on which buses run less frequently than they do on weekdays.
On a normal weekday, Metro Transit operates 10,105 trips. On Friday, it ran 55 percent of its normal weekday schedule, or 5,519 trips. A trip is a bus that travels one route from the beginning of the line to its end.
In recognition that not everybody had Friday off, the bus company added extra trips on some popular routes during times when people would be more likely heading to or from work.
A few examples: Two extra Route 5 trips from downtown Minneapolis to the Brooklyn Center Transit Station were added for the afternoon commute. On Route 64, three morning trips from the Maplewood Mall to downtown St. Paul were added at 5, 5:50 and 6:45 a.m. Several trips were added on Route 94, which provides service between downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Some routes that don’t normally operate on Saturdays did have some service on Friday. Route 250 ran six express trips each way between the 95th Avenue Park and Ride lot in Blaine and downtown Minneapolis with stops at the County Road H Park and Ride.
Other routes, such as 716, 717 and 724 in the northwest suburbs followed a regular weekday schedule.
"Eighty percent of our rides are for work and school, and we’ve found over the years that we can serve lower numbers of commuters today with a reduced schedule," said Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland.
Since express routes don’t normally run on Saturday, Metro was able to use its larger 60-seat articulated buses reserved for those routes and use them on local routes to accommodate demand, and still run fewer trips, said Bruce Howard, director of Customer Services and Marketing.
One benefit riders did enjoy is that Metro Transit charged only Saturday fares, which are lower than regular weekday rush hour fares.
Metro Transit was not the only bus company to pare back service Friday. The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority did not operate most of its routes. It did add additional on routes 441, 444, 445, 446, 460 and 477. The agency serves commuters in the southern suburbs and provides rides to downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the Mall of America.
In Maple Grove, service was limited to Route 781, which provided nine trips to and from downtown Minneapolis on 66-passenger buses. The company normally runs eight routes on weekdays.
Southwest Transit, which serves riders in the southwest metro, offered no service at all on Friday.