Connecting the dots for public transit

27Jan11

Last week, I took a day trip to the Minneapolis area for a customer meeting. The meeting was in one of the suburbs located northwest of Minneapolis itself, and I normally would have taken a cab there from the airport. However, I noticed that the region’s relatively new light rail system covered about half of the distance between the airport and the customer’s office. So, I decided to ride the train as far as I could go, and then take a cab the rest of the way.

Unfortunately, this was easier said than done. I looked at the websites for each of the downtown Minneapolis stops, and none of them mentioned how or where you could catch a cab near the train station. Sure, there was info on bus and commuter train connections, but nothing about finishing a trip by cab. I ended up making a few phone calls and locating the nearest taxi line at a nearby hotel, but the process was far more difficult than it should have been.

Assuming the goal of any public transit system is to encourage ridership and grow fare revenue, then they should really be more proactive about helping potential riders plan out as many trips as possible. This includes providing relevant information about which stations are ideal for catching a cab, or even going a step further and arranging for a formal taxi line at some of the stations. This is especially important when introducing a new mass transit system to a population that’s never had one before, or rolling out a rail network that only spans a limited distance.

By helping riders see how they can use mass transit in combination with other transportation options, more people will ride the train. And as ridership increases and financial performance improves, more funding will be allocated to growing the rail system — which ultimately makes it possible to complete a larger percentage of trips using the train alone.



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