Days after a snowstorm clobbered the Twin Cities, many bus stops remained buried under a foot of snow. Others were still blocked by piles kindly left behind by plows.
Bus riders are frustrated that they have to climb over mounds of snow to board their buses, or even more dangerous, wait in the street. Mostly they wonder when their stops will get cleaned up.
“The stop at 66th and Lyndale is terrible,” Ann Harris wrote last week on the agency’s Facebook page. “The snow is piled so high that you can barely climb over it.”
Judging by the forecast — another cold snap is on the way this week — tall snowbanks blocking the Lyndale Avenue bus stop in Richfield and many others across the region won’t melt away on their own. Metro Transit says it will take a while to free the snowbound stops.
Metro Transit has 23 employees working around the clock to clear snow from rail and transit stations and as many bus stops as possible. But with thousands of spots to get to — some have to be done a second time when plows push snow onto stops and stations that had already been cleared — crews can’t clear them all at once.
“We are not immune to the effects that a heavy snowfall in a short duration has on a region,” said spokesman Howie Padilla. “We have made a ton of progress. We will continue all efforts to help dig out from the storm.”
The agency is asking riders for patience — and to stay out of the street. Bus drivers are instructed to stop only in places where riders can easily step on or off the bus, which may mean a driveway or space near but not at the actual bus stop.
“We want everybody to stay safe as they use our services,” Padilla said.
As to which stops get cleaned first, there is a hierarchy. At the top of the list are driving lanes at transit centers, park-and-ride lots and ramps, plus places where buses lay over or turn around. Next come platforms and sidewalks at rail stations and transit centers. After that, it’s on to obstructed stops with the highest number of passengers with limited mobility — wheelchairs, walkers — and, finally, to bus stops with Metro Transit waiting shelters.
In the suburbs, some municipalities use city crews and coordinate with Metro Transit. And just as cities appreciate people who clear snow away from fire hydrants, Padilla said Metro Transit welcomes help from nearby property owners and businesses to clear bus stops and sidewalks.
Play transportation planner
The Minnesota Department of Transportation has $400 million set aside for its Corridors of Commerce program, and it wants suggestions from the public on how to spend it.
“It’s your chance to play transportation planner,” said spokesman Kent Barnard.
Perhaps your wish list includes a third lane on I-694 between Snelling Avenue and I-35W through Arden Hills and Shoreview. Any idea that provides additional capacity on highways where bottlenecks form and that will improve the movement of freight and reduce barriers to commerce is welcome.
Past suggestions have ranged from low-cost small intersection improvements to highways that do not currently exist, said program manager Patrick Weidemann.
Ideas submitted online at mndot.gov/corridorsofcommerce are due by 11:59 p.m. Feb. 5.
Follow news about traffic and commuting at The Drive on startribune.com. Got traffic or transportation questions, or story ideas? E-mail email@example.com, tweet @stribdrive or call Tim Harlow at 612-673-7768.