by Erik Rosvold
Everywhere you go, everywhere you look, there is going to be a Transit Bus roaming the streets of Duluth. From working class people, hospital employees, and college kids, this city runs off its bus services and offers a variety of routes. As stated by the Duluth Transit Authority Website the DTA is the third largest transit system in the state of Minnesota and 3.26 million people rode in 2011.
Looking for a livable city
When thinking of a city, and its overall needs to succeed, transportation is going to fall towards the top of that list. In order to accommodate everyone living within the city, you have to offer the basic needs and take the people’s opinions into considerations. After going out and riding the DTA first hand, the three types of frequent riders were working class, hospital employees, and college students.
This is some of the information I found.
University of Minnesota Duluth campus
I started with a place that is a frequent stop in my life — The University of Minnesota Duluth bus hub. The goal was to get an inside look at what everyday problems/issues college students face. Being that I ride the 13-U route on average three times a week, I asked around to some of the people that I ride with on a daily basis.
UMD Junior, Touyer Moua, rides the bus every other day and had some issues he would like to see fixed.
“The college routes have too many people, the bus is always crowded. Also I would like to see more routes later at night, I have a couple night classes and there is a limited number of routes that I am able to ride. Sometimes my class runs late and I miss the bus forcing me to walk home late at night," said Moua.
As of now, the Duluth Transit Authority offers a college-focused set of routes. These include the 13-U, 13-Mainline, 11-East 8th Street, and the 18-UMD/CSS. Some of these routes only offer one or two pick up times after 7 p.m. This puts students like Touyer Moua in need of finding other transportation. A 2011 survey done by the DTA stated that the U-Pass program (which includes UMD, CSS, LSC, and Wisconsin-Superior) accounts for 12 percent of all riders. That is 101,074 students taking advantage of the Duluth Transit Authority. Which puts future concern on the route times and frequency.
Green Mill Restaurant, Canal Park
The second stop was in one of the biggest tourist zones in the northland, Canal Park. Although this awesome waterfront attracts a large population of tourists, there is a large population of the working class in Duluth. A 2015 Duluth Tribune article stated that the poverty level in the City of Duluth was up to 17.7 percent, this means that a lot of the population is working minimum wage jobs to make ends meet.
I spoke with a man that works an average of 50 hours a week at the Green Mill restaurant located in the heart of Canal Park. His name is Isaac Wilson and most nights his mode of transportation is the city buses. I asked him what his biggest concern was about the DTA.
“Most days I don’t mind riding the DTA, It is an easy ride and makes it easy since I don’t own a car it saves a whole lot of walking. But nights when my shifts go to late I am forced to make the walk home,” Wilson said.
Other delivery drivers will often bring Wilson home to save him from that hour or so long walk to West Duluth. Wilson is not the only one making these walks and missing buses because of the DTA shutting down before local restaurants and bars close.
As you can see, this transportation issue strikes up some conversation among the residents of Duluth, Minn. It is something that affects us all and is in constant need of improvement.