Changes to the Plymouth Metrolink bus service, as recommended by the Plymouth Advisory Committee on Transit, were approved on June 26 by the Plymouth City Council.
The council voted 5-1 to increase the Metrolink express bus frequency during peak rush hours between Station 73 Park and Ride lot, located at Highway 55 and County Road 73, and downtown Minneapolis.
Mayor Kelli Slavik cast the lone dissenting vote, and Council Member Judy Johnson was absent.
All other Metrolink routes, including local shuttles and Dial-A-Ride, will remain the same. The changes will go into effect January 2013 for an 18-month trial period.
Currently Metrolink express buses run approximately every 30 minutes during peak rush hours between Station 73 and downtown Minneapolis.
In a June 27 interview, Jeffry Wosje, city council and PACT member, said that having to wait 30 minutes for the next bus could be difficult for passengers and affect ridership numbers.
Wosje contrasted Metrolink's express service to Metro Transit's express service, which runs every 10 minutes during rush hours between Hopkins Crossroad Park and Ride lot, located at I-394 and County Road 73, and downtown Minneapolis. Metro Transit is operated by the Metropolitan Council.
PACT is projecting that an increase in the frequency of express bus service will result in an increase in bus ridership and utilization of Station 73.
"The goal is to see 10 additional passengers per quarter over a 18-month time period," said Wosje.
He said that the average utility rate at Station 73 is 28 percent, which is less than the Met Council lot.
"If you go to Hopkins Crossroad, they're packed," he added.
Station 73 can accommodate 288 vehicles, according to the city of Plymouth website. Hopkins Crossroad can accommodate 750 vehicles, according to the Met Council website.
The increased express bus service will cost an estimated $100,000 above the current operating budget annually, according to a PACT's report.
If the transit plan meets its ridership goal of 10 additional passengers per quarter, in the final quarter of the 18-month trial period, there would be an additional 60 passengers.
The potential fair revenue increase for the quarter would be $23,040. This assumes two passenger trips per day at the peak fare of $3 and 64 days of travel in the quarter.
PACT will review the numbers and goals quarterly and report to the city council. The city council has the option of adjusting the transit plan if the passenger goal is not being met.
Wosje said that the transit plan "will not roll out for a full 18 months if it's not attracting additional riders."