Cities Area Transit, a federally and locally funded agency providing public transportation to Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, is working to adjust new routes it implemented in July to increase ridership.

The six-month-old bus routes were meant to improve time performance, offer more direct trips and expand on peak time and evening services, according to CAT.

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Since changing the system, a report CAT made public Feb. 1 shows drivers still need more time to complete some routes that have to pass time-consuming railroad crossings, large parking lots and school zones.

CAT staff will consider lowering average speeds and giving drivers more time to complete Routes 10, 11, 1, 2, 6 and 7, the report said. Staff also proposed changing timetables on Routes 8 and 9, which serve the UND campus among other South Columbia Road locations, to better match UND class and work schedules.

Passengers also have requested more direct routes from downtown Grand Forks and UND campus to Walmart on 32nd Avenue South and Choice Health and Fitness on South 11th Street.

Current options for the two destinations involve transfer points and longer wait times resulting from missed connections. CAT staff recommended the agency address this when considering changes.

Existing routes operate on 60 minute frequencies, which means passengers have the option to board any route at least once every hour. CAT is striving for 30-minute frequencies, the report said, to create shorter wait times and more travel time options.

CAT said it already has achieved this goal on three pairs of routes during peak and afternoon hours. Staff recommend offering 30-minute frequencies on Route 3 next, which serves downtown Grand Forks, Altru's main campus on South Columbia Road and midtown Grand Forks.

Balancing change with the past

The report ends with survey responses CAT has collected over the past six months on changes it made to the bus system.

There were 20 comments in the report asking CAT to reinstate the original system and 19 saying the newer system is better.

CAT received several requests to reinstate a bus stop previously at 39th Street, which had served people between Sixth Avenue and 13th Avenue north of UND campus before CAT changes its routes.

The report implies nearby residents use CAT heavily and would benefit from more service in the area.

Out of 80 surveys completed by residents of surrounding neighborhoods, 11 responders said they used CAT in the past year, with six saying they use CAT "regularly" or "multiple times per week."

CAT staff recommended in the report the agency increase service to the 39th Street area.

The CAT report also indicates ridership peaks at different times than city traffic, which usually experiences a rush from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. CAT modeled its changes in July after these rush hours.

"However, the most ridership actually occurs between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., and there is not a dramatic peak or dip throughout the day," the report said.

Staff will address ridership peaks while considering route changes, according to the report.

The CAT report is available online at CAT said it welcomes public input on the report as it works to develop specific changes to new routes it can introduce to the Grand Forks City Council for approval in 2019.