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Frequently Asked Questions

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Q: Why do the buses always wait 5-10 minutes every time they pass through the bus stops outside of Carlson?

A: The Carlson bus stop is the designated layover (or “catch up” time) for the 4th Street and University Avenue Circulator buses. A complete loop for each of these circulators is designed to take 30 minutes, but often it takes 20-25 minutes. The layover allows the driver to complete loop and take any necessary break. If the buses were to continue, there would be no convenient point for correcting timing issues (like bus bunching) and faciliating driver swaps/breaks. There will always be a wait at the Carlson bus stop.

Q: What does it mean when there are buses already waiting at the stop when my bus arrives?

A: If the bus at the stop is on the same route, it is most likely a layover point (see question above). If you move to the bus in front, you will be on your way faster! The driver typically announces this to riders.

Q: Why isn’t the texting app always accurate?

A: The texting application is a predictor for when the buses arrive. It uses information from previous cycles, which is why it is usually more inaccurate in the beginning of the semester, as it takes time for predictions to update. It is not connected to GPS tracking on the buses.

Q: What is the difference between the NextBus app and texting the number at the stop?

A: The texting application uses information from previous rides, like the day or week before, to estimate where the bus is in its cycle and when it will arrive at the stop. Real-time GPS tracking for buses can be found on the NextBus application.

Q: Why aren’t campus buses set in a similar time schedule as Metro Transit?

A: Metro Transit manages its bus system by the morning and afternoon rush hour. Due to campus class schedules, there are random fluctuations at different times of the day on campus.

Q: Why did the campus bus stops on Oak Street move back toward University Avenue, but the city bus stops stay closer to Washington Avenue?

A: The campus bus stops on Oak Street were moved as part of the Fall 2015 campus-wide bus route update. In order to alleviate traffic congestion, campus buses were moved back. Campus buses will not stop at the Metro Transit shelters near Oak Street and Washington Avenue.

Q: When do I press the “Request Stop” button?

A; The “Request Stop” buttons are commonly used on city buses at all times. By pressing the button, it tells the driver that you wish to get off at the next designated bus stop.

During the busy school day, campus buses will usually stop at every stop regardless if someone taps the button or not. For less busy times (like evening and weekend hours), riders should press the button to alert the driver of a desired stop.

NOTE: Buses will not stop in places where there is not a designated campus bus stop.

Q: What are the “OPEN” clock cutouts on the front windshields of certain buses?

A: Beginning in spring semester 2016, cardboard clocks were placed at the front of windshields to be set by the driver when a bus will be lingering for a longer period of time at a certain stop. Riders are encouraged to ask the bus driver when the bus will be leaving.

Q: Previously (during construction), campus transit buses would stop in front of McNamara Alumni Center, while city buses stopped at the corner of Oak and Washington.  Now, ALL buses stop at the corner of Oak and Washington, which is causing major disruption to the flow of traffic and greater potential for accidents.

Additionally, when the eastbound traffic on Washington has a green left-hand turn signal, it would be helpful for the southbound traffic on Oak to have a green right-hand turn signal.  This would encourage buses moving out of the bus stop location to proceed with their turn onto Washington Ave, allowing the next bus into the Oak St bus stop.

A: PTS is aware of the situation of the bus stop on Oak Street and Washington Avenue.  We combined both Metro Transit and Campus Connector stops for two reasons.  First, there is very little room to install two bus shelters on each side of the street on Oak Street.  The second reason is that Metro Transit Routes 16 and 50 will be going away when Light Rail begins operation.

With reference to the signal timing, the university has been working with the City of Minneapolis Traffic Department to improve it.~ Feb. 2014

Q: Why don't buses stop at Weaver-Densford Hall now that Washington Avenue is re-opened? It gives many of us access to the University Clinics where we see our doctors.

A: The purpose of the new Washington Avenue Mall is to provide a car-free zone for bicycles, pedestrians and transit. The design calls for transit vehicles to ride on the rail lines with the light rail cars; the road way is narrow and designed for a bikes and emergency vehicles only. This design does not accommodate a stop at Weaver-Densford because, if attempted, it would not be safe. Buses are not able to share the platform with trains because their doors are on the wrong side for boarding and deboarding.  ~ Dec. 2013

Q: Why do I see buses stacked next to each other?

A: Many things can cause “bus bunching” including timing of traffic lights, road conditions due to weather, and even the occasional accident on the road.  The most common cause is overcrowded buses. When everyone tries to get on the same bus at one stop, the result is that the bus becomes overloaded, it takes longer to pull out of the stop, and the bus actually slows down the entire shuttle system. It is at this point where you will see buses bunched together when they should be spaced five minutes apart.

Unfortunately, overcrowding can occur without notice or regularity, usually for one trip in one direction. This can be due to an early class break or an event, such as a summer camp outing that produces a large number of riders. It is understandably frustrating as a passenger if you need transportation during one of those timeframes.

Parking and Transportation Services strives to provide a frequency of service with a reasonable amount of spaced wait time between buses. Our statistics show that the current frequency of service is as efficient as possible given our ridership numbers.

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Park

Q: Please consider putting a contract parking entrance to the East River Road Garage near Yudof Hall. I come straight from the west side of the Washington Ave Bridge every morning and park in the ERR Garage. Having a contract entrance in front of Yudof would make sense for all drivers coming from that direction.

A: PTS will not be adding a contract reader to the East River Road Garage entrance at Delaware Street.  It's a safety concern for conflicts with the pedestrian crossing between Comstock Hall and Coffman Memorial Union.  The original garage design allowed for a public parking entrance to provide convenient access for those unfamiliar with campus, but it was never intended to handle a heavy flow of both public and contract parkers.  Since there is such a short distance between the crosswalk and the intersection, it could lead to traffic backing up to the intersection, waiting for pedestrians to cross at busy times.

Our staff will work with the City of Minneapolis to see if any improvements can be made to the East River Parkway and Delaware traffic signal with the hope that drivers can experience less of a delay when coming off the Washington Avenue Bridge with the left turn onto East River Parkway.  ~ Jan. 2014

 

Q: Who at Fairview should be contacted for parking questions?

A: Call 612-273-PARK (7275).

Q: Why does parking cost so much?

A: Parking and Transportation Services is a self-supporting department. We do contribute to the larger University through Internal Revenue Sharing, but we receive no central funding from the institution. Consequently, the majority of parking dollars support the services of the department (like the University Paratransit Service for those with disabilities and the intercampus shuttle buses) and the operation and maintenance of our facilities. We balance our budget in the same manner as a private company does - income offsets expenses.

A significant amount surface parking on the Twin Cities campus has been lost over the years due to construction. To replace surface lots using limited land, the department had to build both ramps and garages, which are ten to 20 times more costly than surface lots.

Additionally, structural repair costs have increased significantly in recent years. Despite limited resources and increasing debt payments, the department is determined to keep rate increases to a minimum to ease the burden on students, staff, and faculty.

Q: I'm a student and I don't want to pay special event rates! What can I do?

A: Special events such as concerts and athletic games often occur on campus, and several parking facilities do charge a higher special event rate.  Event rates go into effect two hours prior to the event, with the exception of the Church Street Garage and Lots 33 and 37, which are three hours prior to the event.

To avoid paying event parking rates in the future, the first step is to consult our online special events calendar (http://www1.umn.edu/pts/events.htm).  That will tell you if there is a special event that evening. 

Students can use the Weisman Art Museum Garage, East River Road Garage, Oak Street Ramp, or Nineteenth Avenue Ramp, which do not charge special event rates.  For these facilities, the off-peak parking rate would apply.

More "Frequently Asked Questions" Webpages

Automation of campus parking


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Why FAQs Are Important

This page is a living document. PTS will add more questions and answers as demand grows.

When we find a common question is being asked by multiple community members, we will add it here.