Some Metrobus riders may be wondering what happened to their bus stops. The transit agency quietly eliminated 67 stops from four bus lines when it rolled out new "service enhancements" amid fanfare from public officials late last month.
But Metro spokesman Reggie Woodruff said the agency received 20 complaints from riders in the first 15 days after the service changes -- during the holiday season when the agency typically has lighter traffic.
More stops will disappear in the future, as the Dec. 19 rollout was the first phase of new guidelines calling for fewer stops per mile.
The changes are meant to improve and streamline bus service.
Metro has been studying how to make bus service more appealing as ridership has fallen. One solution was to consolidate stops to about four or five per mile.
The move speeds buses as they make fewer stops to get from one point to another. The agency estimates it can save 10 to 20 seconds for each stop it removes.
Long term, the change reduces the need to adjust schedules as traffic bogs down routes. Fewer stops make it easier for the agency to accurately predict bus arrival times since it has fewer variables to take into account.
But the transit agency acknowledges it faces tension.
"Metro often receives complaints that our buses stop every block, making travel times slow," officials wrote in an agency blog. "However, most times when we propose to remove an underused or poorly placed stop, the few people using the stop will mobilize, often lobbying their elected officials to have it reinstalled. Everyone wants faster service; they just don't want it at the expense of their stop."
In this first phase, Metro removed 26 stops on the G8 line, 18 stops on the U8 line, seven stops on the X2 line, and 16 on the 62/63. Those lines had the most stops per mile in the system.
But Metro found that more than 60 other lines also have more than five stops per mile.
The agency plans to examine the stops on every line over the next few years to make sure they have the proper amount of stops in the best locations.