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Mayo Clinic shuttle increase in Kutzky Park neighborhood is linked to parking changes

Fewer staff working downtown allowed west shuttle lot to be dedicated to Saint Marys Hospital staff

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Answer Man, 

I read about Mayo Clinic’s plans to change the number of buses cutting through the Kutzky Park neighborhood, which seems like a step in the right direction. 

However, I’m wondering what happened to get the neighbors so upset. I’ve been told the Mayo Clinic shuttles have always used the Kutzky Park neighborhood streets. 

Did something change or is this a case of new neighbors wanting to see change because they didn’t know they would be living on a bus route. 

Curious about Kutzky

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Curious,

Mayo Clinic has routinely used the neighborhood as a transit route. Reportedly it's been happening for at least two decades, but never to the extent seen in recent years.

It appears that the shuttle changes two years ago largely stem from parking changes that were made as more downtown Mayo Clinic employees started working from home.

As anyone who knows a Mayo Clinic employee knows, parking appears to be a hot-button topic for discussion. Who has it? Who doesn’t? And, most important for many, how far do you need to walk?

However, in the spring of 2020, Mayo Clinic was able to provide some flexibility since fewer people were needing daily parking spots.

Where downtown workers had been assigned to specific lots and parking facilities based on seniority, anyone with parking privileges was told designated downtown spaces were available on a first-come, first-served basis.

A Mayo spokeswoman told Post Bulletin reporter Randy Petersen that the change meant more downtown employees were finding parking spaces closer to their work locations.

They weren’t riding shuttles to connect to distant lots.

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Since that nature of their work means most Saint Marys Hospital employees continue to report in-person on a daily basis, their parking needs didn’t decline.

To better address the needs, Mayo Clinic limited the use of its west shuttle lot to Saint Marys employees, which ultimately meant those shuttles only traveled between the parking lot on Second Street Southwest and the hospital, rather than going downtown as they had in the past.

As a result, more shuttles are circling through the Kutzky Park neighborhood to reduce employees’ time on the buses after a work day.

Mayo officials have said the shorter routes are important to support staff members who work long hours in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Kutzky Park neighbors point out some of their fellow residents are also putting in long hospital hours and don’t need to spend the rest of their day listening to passing buses.

With plans to end shuttle bus traffic on West Center Street before 6 a.m. and between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., Mayo Clinic is offering a reprieve that officials say goes beyond responding to the neighbors’ primary concerns related to the buses that start running at 4:30 a.m.

Some neighbors say it’s still not enough, since spring and summer evenings will continue to be disrupted on a regular basis.

All parties involved, including Rochester city staff, have said they will continue to watch and see what happens.

Hopefully, if further adjustments can be made, they will happen quickly and create a balance that can be maintained until the anticipated long-term solution with the city’s rapid-transit plan is available.

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Until then, even I'm not sure there is a perfect answer that will make everyone involved happy.

Send questions to Answer Man at answerman@postbulletin.com .

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