This morning traffic has switched over to the north side of the street all the way down to Syndicate, so I wanted to take a moment to welcome our eastern Segment 1 friends to the party. In your sleepy commute mode you might be wondering where the heck your eastbound bus stop is (this is still the most common question I hear when I'm on the avenue). Two hints: look in the middle of University, and look for the big orange and white plastic barricades. For some reason those little blue bus stop signs get lost in all the construction craziness. Here's what the waiting area at Raymond looks like:
Beautiful spring day, huh? And at Vandalia:
You get the idea. A little awkward but doable once you find them.
Yesterday, Central Corridor LRT passed its biggest hurdle yet - securing full federal funding to the tune of $478.45 million. I was hoping for a giant check, but we'll accept this poster thingy instead. Suitable for framing.
I got an exciting email from a fellow transiteer today:
"I just thought I'd point out that when I Googled my local hardware store to get hours (along with any number of other businesses along CCLRT), I got a link for "Train", and the closest stop (10th Street). It may not just yet be technically guaranteed funding by the federal government, but Google in fact thinks it's already there..."
If your bus is running late (which it did most of the winter due to apocalyptic snow) real-time lets you know that you have time to make a cup of tea before leaving the house, find that overdue library book you meant to return, or tie your shoes before running out the door (a luxury). There's really nothing worse than running for the bus and then standing at the stop for 10 minutes thinking about everything you didn't do in order to be there on time.
With NexTrip, Metro Transit lets you pull up your bus stop and see what's coming, but only if you are one of the major stops listed. My stop, Emerald, is the only place between Oak Street and Fairview that has a time point. This worked out great, until the Emerald stop closed a month ago. Now when I bring up the NexTrip for Emerald, there is no real-time info. My new little stop to the west, Bedford, isn't a choice.
But looking at the static info and waiting in the cold is for amateurs! It will not do. It does not allow maximum laziness on my part.
So for the last month, I have been trying pinpoint the exact travel time between Oak Street and Bedford, and adjusting my scurrying accordingly. You would think it would be fairly straighforward. Not so. It seems that the bus is usually behind schedule when approaching Oak Street. So it may be 4 minutes behind schedule on the West Bank, leading me to believe I have 4 extra minutes in my life to, say, pack a lunch or scrounge for a granola bar. But it turns out, when the bus is late, it might make it up in that Oak to Emerald stretch and still arrive on time. Hence my +4 minutes become zero, and I miss the bus. Worst of all, you have no idea if you are a minute early or a minute late, so you stand there, like a schmuck, seeing a bus mirage in every UPS truck. Being one minute late is just a less depressing way of saying you are 14 minutes early for the next bus.
Just as really getting tired of all this bus chasing, Metro Transit quietly unveils the magical stop identification number:
"Each transit stop has a unique number. Use the number to get NexTrip times for your particular stops. Find Stop Numbers with Services Finder or the Interactive Map. "
I can get ALL route departures for ANY bus stop? No more fuzzy math and running for the bus in heels? Maybe I am the last transit rider in the TC to figure this thing out...but in any case, it is very exciting! Laziness and procrastination are back in business!
Like many, I'm looking for TOD in the Central Corridor. A Transit-Oriented Dentist.
I chose my dentist based solely on location - Snelling and University, the transit epicenter of my little world. Anywhere in St. Paul that is served by 5 bus routes is a veritable hotbed of access. It's unheard of. I can quickly get there from home or from work, by local, limited stop, or even express bus service. I never have to look at a bus schedule.
So you can imagine my horror when I got the letter: We're Moving. To a newer and shinier building and all that. More modern, more accessible, blah, blah, blah. More parking! Great. Just what I need is more parking.
They're moving to a freeway frontage road with no sidewalk. Oh, but the letter tells me, we are only one block from the 16 bus! This is true, but that one block is 1200 feet long and comprised almost entirely of sad, poorly-configured parking lots.
Seriously? I mean, I have more than once taken the bus to the grocery store (in that same sad, empty block) and walked through Pavement Land, kicking away the trash tumbleweeds to obtain of a few necessary pantry items. But you have to think - surely these people have never ridden the bus, or they would be a little more embarrassed to tout transit access at the new location. I was thoroughly annoyed.
I went in to my appointment today ready to dump them, and of course, I chickened out. I was already late to a meeting, and I decided it's much easier to break up via phone. There was lots of chatter about the LRT construction and the nice weather. They poked around at my teeth. They took some x-rays. And then my dentist said something that made me kind of speechless.
"See you in six months - drive safely!"
This is definitely not TOD. Can anyone recommend a good dentist?
When I studied abroad in Australia, there were a few dicey traffic moments from looking the wrong way for oncoming cars. Luckily, I had a pack of Aussies to remind me (read: mock me) that Americans need to look both ways before crossing the street.
I walked over to South St. Anthony Rec tonight and had a little Brizzie flashback. I was on the southeast corner (or what used to be a corner) at Eustis, inching up to the construction barriers to cross University. Now, I am hyper aware of the traffic configuration - one lane in each direction all pushed to the north side of the street. But for some reason, my brain was still surprised to see eastbound traffic on the north side of University. So please please keep your eyes open out there. And looking both ways is not a bad idea...
I have to say, when I started to understand the construction phasing schedule, I got really anxious about how long my bus commute would get. The 50 doesn't do detours - it just sits in traffic.
And the first week or so of traffic being switched over was rough. Drivers were delayed and aggravated, and were taking it out on the neighborhood by slamming on the gas as soon as they could turn onto a side street. Prior west was a parking lot. The honking was ridiculous, like when I used to commute on the Crosstown (62 is devoid of any semblance of Minnesota Nice). The craziness was in full force.
But a strange thing has happened as people start settling into the dance of construction. Traffic started moving again. There's still a lot of it, but cars clip along at a pretty steady pace. Buses are running on time. Pedestrians aren't being mowed down at stop lights. It's like people have (gasp) accepted construction?! Is that possible?
Whatever magical capacity tour we're on, I'm really really enjoying getting home on time.