Suspension of Route 494 Suburb-to-Suburb Bus Service Announced
Mar 24, 2016 01:17PM
● By Wendy Erlien
Less than six months after the service launched, the Suburban Transit Association (STA) announced it will be suspending bus service for the Suburb-to-Suburb Demonstration Route 494 between Shakopee and Maple Grove effective April 4, 2016.
Known as Route 494, the suburban bus service initially launched Jan. 19, 2016 to provide weekday rush hour trips between Maple Grove, Plymouth, Minnetonka, Eden Prairie, and Shakopee.
STA providers are working closely with Commuter Services to provide alternative commute options to existing Route 494 riders.
Among the guiding principles established when planning the demonstration project, the suburban providers agreed to a set of performance benchmarks to measure the success of the project and to make adjustments as needed. "Suburb to suburb bus service truly is a new concept for our region," said STA Chair and Plymouth City Councilmember Jeff Wosje. "In the first two months of service, we've already identified key learnings. Based on that information, the Board decided it was unlikely ridership would grow sufficiently to keep the route sustainable. We want to make sure we are spending tax payer money responsibly."
In the next several months, the suburban providers will conduct a review of the initial service before considering a service relaunch later this year. Topics of discussion include frequency of service, last-mile considerations, a more focused route and sustainability. The STA Board is expected to reconvene later this spring to begin discussion of route options using criteria learned from key findings of the initial launch.
Funding for the two-year project was approved through a grant from the Minnesota Legislature to the Suburban Transit Association (STA) to “demonstrate commuter express bus service in the I-494 and Highway 169 corridors,” according a project memorandum of understanding previously provided to the city of Maple Grove.
Editor’s note: What do you think of the suspension of the suburb-to-suburb bus Route 494 bus service? Share your thoughts in comments below.