Metro Transit working with group to make Route 5 friendlier

Updated: April 26, 2007 - 2:07 pm

Metro Transit has announced that a Downtown bus route may feel a bit friendlier over the next 14 months while outreach workers chat with riders to “improve civility” on the bus.

Four-person teams will ride Metro Transit’s Route 5 for 48 hours each month, staffed by the Minneapolis chapter of MADDADS (Men Against Destruction, Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder). MADDADS was founded in 1998 to offer role models to children and combat drugs, gangs and violence.

The 18 miles on Route 5 stretch from Brooklyn Center to the Mall of America with stops in North Minneapolis, Downtown, South Minneapolis, Richfield and Bloomington.

Route 5 is the busiest bus route in the transit system, with 18,000 boardings each weekday. Transit police are summoned to Route 5 to respond to disorderly conduct or vandalism an average of once per day, according to Metro Transit.

The MADDADS will not serve as police officers, but they will work the aisles and interact with passengers to promote a friendly environment, possibly asking some passengers to improve their language or tone down their speaking volume.

“The mission of MADDADS is to bring about positive change by being a force to overcome social ills that plague our neighborhoods,” Director V.J. Smith said in a statement. “Our role will be to encourage respect among riders so that their transit experience is positive, welcoming and free from fear.”

The focus on Route 5’s atmosphere comes after two years of discussion about how to make people feel more comfortable using transit service.

Metro Transit and MADDADS are putting up $40,000 to pay MADDAD riders $15 an hour for their time.

The riders will appear in mid-June during peak afternoon hours and ride until 9 or 10 p.m. when most of the route’s behavioral problems occur.