Metro Transit, MVTA, Maple Grove route changes, March 20th

March 21, 2010

Service on bus routes 3, 7, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18, 25, 50, 59, 223, 350, 351, 420, 437, 438, 440, 441, 442, 444, 445, 446, 465, 467, 477, 480, 535, 539, 568, 589, 664, 665, 667, 668, 670, 671, 672, 674, 675, 677, 679, 705, 716, 755, 756, 783, 824, 825, 829, 850, 854, and 888 will change. See this page for detailed information and new schedules:

Here is an overview:

Nicollet Mall: Buses now stop every other block on the mall, and express routes have moved to Marquette and 2nd. Routes 10, 11, 17, 18, 25, 59, and 568 remain. Northbound Route 18 trips are free if you board north of Grant St. and Southbound Route 10 & 59 trips are free if you board south of Washington Ave. Routes 10 & 59 now serve the Convention Center, Route 11 now turns off of Nicollet Ave. at 16th St, and Route 25 trips to Leamington Ramp use Nicollet Ave. to 16th St to 3rd Ave instead of 10th St.

Marquette & 2nd Avenue: Routes 589, 664, 665, 667, 668, 670, 671, 672, 674, 675, 677, 756, (B/H stops) and 825 (A/G stops) now use Marquette Ave and 2nd Ave bus lanes instead of Nicollet Mall or Hennepin Ave. Routes 824 & 854 now serve “G” stops on 2nd Ave.

Route 25 Limited Stop trips renumbered to Route 825: Buses now use Marquette and 2nd Aves instead of Nicollet Mall. There will be 2 more PM trips on Silver Lake Road limited service (Route 825), 1 less PM trip on local service (Route 25). 1 PM Route 25 trip will now end at Silver Lake Village.

Route 59 replaces Route 829: Service on Route 829 has been renumbered to Route 59 and several new trips from Leamington Ramp to Central Ave/53rd Ave have been added so Central Ave now has 10-15 minute limited stop service during peak hours.

Route 250: All reverse commute service will now travel to Medtronic.

Route 351: 1 new reverse commute trip will be added and reverse commute service will now travel to Rasmussen College in Oakdale.

Cedar Grove Transit Station: Most local MVTA routes will change to add service to a new transit station near Highways 13 & 77. Routes 440, 441, 442, 444, 445, and 477 will now serve Cedar Grove Transit Station and so will new routes 437 and 438.

Route 437: New peak-hour reverse commute route from Mall of America to Eagan Transit Station via Cedar Grove Transit Station, Kennebec Road Industrial area and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. 3 trips each way.

Route 438: New midday route from Cedar Grove Transit Station serving Nichols Rd, Diffley Rd, Rahn Rd, Cliff Lake Rd, Blackhawk Rd, back to Diffley Rd, Nichols Rd, Cedar Grove Transit Station every 60 minutes from 8:50 AM to 3:50 PM.

Route 440: Service will now operate every 90 minutes, and will now serve Pennock Ave from 140th St to 147th St instead of Galaxie Ave. Service will end at Cedar Grove Transit Station, except for 2 SB and 3 NB reverse commute trips to Mall of America and Downtown Minneapolis.

Route 442: Buses will now serve Cedar Grove Transit Station and 7 new weekday trips will be added. Route will now travel on Cedar Ave instead of  Pennock Ave between 140th and 153rd, and buses will only stop at 142nd St, 147th St (NB), 149th St (SB), and 155th St (Apple Valley Transit Station). Buses will no longer serve the Days Inn loop.

Route 444: Buses will now serve Cedar Grove Transit Station and 2 new weekday trips will be added. Buses will now travel on Travelers Trail from Nicollet Ave and Parkwood Ave instead of Highway 13, Portland Ave, Burnsville Pkwy, Parkwood Ave.

Route 445: Midday and Southbound AM weekday service will now end at Cedar Grove Transit Station. Route will no longer serve Blue Cross/Blue Shield canopy and Yankee Dr, use Route 437 for alternate service. 2 weekday trips will be eliminated.

Route 477: 2 SB 477R trips will now serve Cedar Grove Transit Station.

Other minor MVTA routes changing: Routes 420, 465, 470, 480.

Route 783: Route will be extended to Bass Lake Rd & Lawndale.

Route 824: Buses will no longer serve Fridley Station.

Route 850: 2 new SB trips will be added.

Twins Service: New Route 679 will serve County Road 73 P&R to Target Field for all Twins home games, while Northstar trains will serve 53 home games.

Bus route changes for Dec. 12

December 6, 2009

Some bus and light rail changes happen on December 12th. For new schedules and a detailed summary look here, for a summary of major changes look below:

Route 4: Buses will return to Lyndale Avenue over 494.

Route 5: Some weekday 5F (26th Ave Branch) trips will become 5M (Brookly Center) or new 5L (33rd-Fremont) trips. Schedule times will also change because the Chicago Avenue detour is ending.

Route 6: Buses will follow a new routing in the Centennial Lakes area of Edina.

Route 14: Frequency will be reduced to every 20 minutes during midday and Saturday periods, every 15 minutes during peak hours, and every 30 minutes during evenings. Service along 38th Street will be moved to 42nd Street, Cargo Road service will be eliminated, and most 14A trips will become new 14H trips, with an extention to a new terminal at 56th & Chicago.

Route 55 (Hiawatha Light Rail): A new station at 34th Avenue & American Boulevard in Bloomington is expected to open on Dec. 12th.

Routes 68 & 71: Weekday service will be extended from Inver Hills Community College to the Arbor Pointe retail district south of 80th & Cahill. Route 71 will have an added NB trip leaving Concord & Concord Exchange on weekdays at 11:20 pm.

Route 146: 146C trips will become 146A trips. Use route 578 or 587 for alternate service to Benton Avenue or Tracy Avenue.

Route 264: This new rush hour route will travel between the Twin Lakes Park & Ride near County Road C & 35W and Downtown Minneapolis, with 7 AM trips and 8 PM trips.

Route 275: An added trip to Downtown St. Paul leaves Cub Foods Park & Ride at 7:16 am.

Route 535: Buses will once again serve 35W & 46th Street.

Route 542: Buses will serve Penn, 76th/77th, and Lyndale, back to American Blvd instead of serving American Blvd and Newton/76th. 542B trips will serve Knox Ave Park & Ride for connections to route 576.

Route 576: 576B buses will use 76th/77th to Lyndale Avenue instead of Penn Ave. and American Blvd.

Route 579: This new route will begin 1/19/2010 and will offer 4 peak hour trips each way from Southdale Park & Ride to the University of Minnesota.

Route 597: Three new trips will be added each way.

Route 824: Trips began serving Fridley Station on November 16th.

Route 888 (Northstar Commuter Rail): Afternoon trips leave 5 minutes later than previously scheduled.

Routes 20, 805, and 811: Trips were retimed for connections with Northstar trains.

Plymouth Metrolink: Routes 743 and 747 were combined. Routes 773 and 777 were combined. Routes 791 and 792 were combined. Midday trips on Route 774 were combined into Route 795. Route 776 was extended further north in Plymouth.

BlueXpress: Reverse Commute trips renumbered to Route 491.

SouthWest Transit: Various changes take effect including less service on Routes 603, 684, 685, and 697 and more service on routes 690, 695, 698, and 699. Service to Victoria is eliminated and service to Market Park & Ride is reduced to service on Route 685 only, as this Park & Ride will close for construction of a ramp soon.

Marquette/2nd Avenue: Marquette and 2nd Avenues have been reconstructed and will reopen on Dec. 14th. Buses will make less stops in Downtown Minneapolis. These routes are affected: 133, 135, 146, 156, 250, 260, 261, 264, 270, 288, 460, 464, 465, 467, 470, 472, 476, 477, 478, 479, 490, 535, 552, 553, 554, 558, 576, 578, 587, 597, 673, 680, 684, 685, 690, 691, 697, 698, 699, 742, 747, 760, 761, 762, 763, 765, 766, 767, 772, 774, 776, 777, 780, 781, 782, 783, 784, 790, 793, 795, 824, 850, 852, 854, and 889. Route 829 will move to Nicollet Mall.

On March 20, 2010 routes 589, 664, 665, 667, 668, 670, 671, 672, 674, 675, 677, 756, and 825 will move to Marquette and 2nd.

Central Avenue Signal Priority: Routes 10, 118, and 829 will have faster trips due to new signal priority on Central Avenue NE.

Northstar Line Opens in 2 days; associated route changes

November 14, 2009

The Northstar Line grand opening is today and revenue service will begin on Monday, November 16th. The grand opening festivities are at all stations, however tickets were given out a while ago, so if you don’t have one you will have to wait until Monday to ride. The Target Field Station in Downtown Minneapolis will have the largest festivities, and tours will be provided of Northstar trains. For more on the grand opening and on Northstar service and fares see Metro Transit’s Northstar page at (I have to figure out the link function better).

Route Changes (11/16/09):

Route 20: This new downtown shuttle connects weekday Northstar trains to 9th and 10th Streets from Target Field Station.

Route 55: Light Rail trains will be extended 3 blocks north from Hennepin Avenue/Warehouse District to Target Field Station. This change will happen on November 14th, 2 days before the other changes.

Route 811: This new shuttle will connect riders of Route 851 in Coon Rapids and Anoka to Coon Rapids-Riverdale Station.

Route 824: Route 824 buses will be rerouted to provide connections to Northstar trains at Fridley Station.

Route 851: Route 851 buses will be replaced by Northstar trains and Routes 811 and 889.

Route 887: This new route will provide weekday service from Big Lake Station to the Northstar Link Park & Ride in St. Cloud and the St. Cloud Metro Bus Center. This route will require a $1 introductory fare, fares will be raised to standard levels in 2010. Northstar or Metro Transit tickets cannot be used on this route as it is operated by St. Cloud Metro Bus.

Route 888: Route 888 buses will be replaced by Northstar trains.

Northstar Line (Route 888): This new commuter rail line will travel between Big Lake and Downtown Minneapolis, stopping at Elk River, Anoka, Coon Rapids, and Fridley. 6 (5 commuter and 1 reverse commute) weekday and 3 weekend round-trips will be offered. This line will require a new set of fares, and certain passes will require surcharges or will not be allowed for payment. Bus and light-rail transfers will reduce the cost of a ticket by $1, if a transfer upgrade ticket is bought. Northstar tickets will be valid on all buses and light-rail trains.

Route 889: This new route will provide an extra trip leaving 3rd Ave. at 7:10 pm on weekdays to Coon Rapids and Anoka Stations.

Night Owl Service

July 19, 2009

Metro Transit currently offers Night Owl bus service on 4 routes (5, 14, 16 and 19). Routes 5 and 19 are interlined and provide service on Chicago Ave. (Rt. 5) in South Minneapolis and form a loop on Emerson/Fremont, 44th Ave. (Rt. 5), Penn Ave. and Olson Memorial Highway (Rt. 19) in North Minneapolis. Route 16 operates along Washington and University Avenues between Downtown Minneapolis and Downtown St. Paul. Route 14 has one trip leaving downtown at 3:10 am that is designed to serve airport cargo terminal workers. Most Minneapolis bus routes start between 4 and 6 am, and end between 12 and 2 am, leaving a 2-6 hour gap in bus service.

Night owl bus service should be viewed as an asset, and less subject to elimination from low ridership or performance. People will be more willing to use public transit if they know that there will always be a bus, no matter the time of day (or night). It would also provide access to jobs that start or end early in the morning, provide 24 hour service to the airport and serve bar-goers who do not have an alternative to driving.

Metro Transit had a more expansive Night Owl bus network between 1998 and sometime before 2003. Routes that had night service were the 5, 6, 7, 10, 16, 18, 21 and 64.

In my proposal most of these routes would come back, and would operate hourly. Here they are:

  • 5: Trips on the south end of the route would extend to the Mall of America.
  • 6: New Owl service between Downtown Minneapolis and Uptown via Hennepin, 36th, Bryant, 31st, Lyndale, back to Hennepin into downtown.
  • 7: Would not come back, replaced by LRT owl bus.
  • 10: New Owl service from Downtown Minneapolis and Central/41st.
  • 16: no changes
  • 18: New Owl service from Downtown Minneapolis to Nicollet and 46th or Nicollet and 66th.
  • 19: no changes
  • 21: New Owl service from Uptown to Downtown St. Paul.
  • 54: New Owl service from Downtown St. Paul to the Mall of America and the Airport along W. 7th St.
  • 55: New Owl service replacing train service at night. Would serve all stations, and could potentially operate along Cedar, Riverside, 27th Ave., Minnehaha, 46th St., 34th Ave., 54th St., to the VA, then back to the normal route between the VA, the Airport and the MOA. The local routing would provide night service for 7 and 27 riders, and would likely attract more riders than a Hiawatha alignment.
  • 64: New Owl service between Downtown St. Paul and Hillcrest via Payne, Maryland and White Bear. In Downtown St. Paul would continue as Route 74 Owl.
  • 74: New Owl service between 46th St. LRT and Downtown St. Paul via 46th/Ford Pkwy., Cleveland, Randolph, W. 7th.
  • 84X: New Owl service between 46th St. LRT and Snelling/University via 46th/Ford Pkwy and Snelling Ave.

Most routes would have timed transfers, at Downtown Minneapolis, Downtown St. Paul, Uptown, Lake-Nicollet, Lake-Chicago, Lake-27th, 46th St. LRT, Snelling/University, and the Mall of America. In the future routes could operate every 30 minutes at night, and some could be extended further out.

Midtown Greenway LRT if 3C is Chosen?

April 14, 2009

If the 3C route is chosen for the Southwest LRT, it will cover about half of the Midtown Greenway, from Lake/Excelsior to Nicollet. A proposed streetcar on the Midtown Greenway would have very little chance of being built if the 3C route is chosen. How about an LRT line that would continue from Nicollet to Hiawatha?

I think a line connecting Uptown to Hiawatha could do very well. The corridor is grade-separated and Lake Street is becoming closer to the Midtown Greenway through new developments (i.e. Midtown Exchange, LynLake). Only about 3 miles of new dual track would need to be built, and only 3 new stations would be needed (Nicollet, Chicago, Bloomington, Hiawatha).

The main problem is getting the Nicollet-Lake station correct. A well designed station would need to take advantage of redevelopment opportunities at the K-Mart site. At Blaisdell the lines could turn slightly south and a station would be put under a new development between Blaisdell and Nicollet, and the Midtown Greenway and Lake Street. The SW Line trains to Downtown could turn north on a sharp curve, and would have to room to build a new tunnel between Lake Street and 27th Street so that Nicollet Avenue could be opened between 28th and 29th Streets (the 3C route will close this portion of Nicollet). The 28th Street Station could be moved to 26th Street, and would be underground. The Midtown Greenway trains would move back to the Midtown Greenway ROW between Nicollet and 1st Avenue.

A Midtown Greenway line could be extended to the Midway area to attract more riders. It could potentially run from Hiawatha-Lake to the Midway via Lake Street, Marshall Avenue and Snelling Avenue and would connect Hiawatha and Southwest riders to the Midway area. MG trains could theoretically continue to St. Paul on the Central Corridor track. This would effectively make a much faster version of the very high ridership 21/53 bus lines.

Improving Transit Maps

April 4, 2009

Many cities don’t have small network maps, but it could be a worthy investment. What I’m talking about is London-style bus spider maps like this:

Image from Flickr, by Oran

Image from Flickr, by Oran

These maps would help improve wayfinding in areas like Dinkytown, Midway, Uptown, Nicollet-Lake, etc.

Also a pocket sized map (maybe about the size of a bus schedule) showing the major all-day routes would be useful. Frequent routes would have thick lines while less frequent routes would have thin lines similar to this:

Image from Flickr, by Oran

Image from Flickr, by Oran

Posting individual maps in bus shelters would be useful. There is currently a pilot project like this on Route 27.

Reducing Operating Costs by Using Articulated Buses

March 26, 2009

In September 2008, Metro Transit replaced standard 40′ buses with articulated (accordion)  60′ buses on route 16 in the midday periods. Frequencies went from every 7-8 minutes to every 10 minutes. The capacity of the route didn’t change, but Metro Transit saves on operating costs because less drivers are needed and less fuel is needed. One problem with this kind of set-up is an increased risk of bus bunching. Less vehicles and high amounts of boarding don’t mix well with traffic.

Below are some routes that I’ve identified and evaluated for articulated bus service. The main criteria is that they run every 10 minutes or more frequent. Here they are:

Route 5: Route 5 is Metro Transit’s highest ridership line, and one of the longest local bus lines. It runs from Brooklyn Center Transit Center or North Memorial Hospital to the Mall of America. There are 2 branches on the north end of route (G-North Mem., M-Brooklyn Center) and 2 short-turns (F-26th/Broadway, K-44th/Penn). There is 1 branch on the south end (E-Mall of America), and 3 short-turns (A-Chicago/38th, B-Chicago/56th, C-Chicago/66th). The proposal is to reduce frequencies to 10 minutes from 6 am-6 pm, Weekdays. This would mainly affect the A, B, E, F, and M trips. Service would be reduced from 15 minutes to 20 minutes on each of the branches/short-turns. The main line from 38th/Chicago to 26th/Emerson will run every 10 minutes. The Hi-Frequency service between 38th and 56th would have to be eliminated unless all A’s became B’s. This would require an increase in service from every 15 minutes to every 10 minutes.

Route 6: I’ve chosen not to evaluate this route because a reduction in frequency would have detrimental effects on the branches.

Route 10: Route 10 runs from Downtown Minneapolis to the Northtown Mall in Blaine via Central Avenue NE. On the north end it has 2 branches (N-Central/Northtown, U-University/Northtown) and 2 short-turns (C-Central/40th, H-Central/53rd). Southbound service is 1 branch, 10 to Downtown Minneapolis. Service would be reduced to every 15 minutes between DT Minneapolis and Central/53rd. Each branch (N & U) would operate every 30 minutes (same as now). This would mean all C trips would be eliminated and N & U trips rescheduled. This proposal would change all trips from 6 am-6 pm, weekdays. This is however unlikely because route 10 uses Nicollet Mall which requires hybrid buses, and Metro Transit does not have articulated hybrid buses or any plans to purchase any.

Route 18: Route 18 runs along Nicollet Avenue from DT Minneapolis to 98th Street, and continues to 106th St on other Bloomington streets. On southbound trips there is 1 branch (E-Devonshire/104th) and 3 short-turns (A-Nicollet/46th, C-Nicollet/66th, D-Nicollet/American). Service would be reduced to every 10 minutes between DT Minneapolis and 46th, increased to every 10 minutes from 46th to 66th, decreased to every 20 minutes from 66th to American, and will stay the same at every 60 minutes between American and 104th. This proposal would change all trips from 6 am-6 pm, weekdays. This is however unlikely because route 18 uses Nicollet Mall which requires hybrid buses, and Metro Transit does not have articulated hybrid buses or any plans to purchase any.

Route 21: Route 21 runs along Lake St, Marshall Ave, and Selby Ave between Uptown and Downtown St. Paul. Service would be decreased to every 10 minutes between Uptown and 27th, increased to every 10 minutes between 27th and Cretin, and would stay the same at every 20 minutes between Cretin and DT St. Paul. Lake Street is probably the most sensitive route to bus bunching and it is better to stay with the higher frequency.

By this evaluation it seems that it would decrease service to the farther out areas of routes, and is only compatible with route 5. There is also the problem that there is not enough articulated buses for local service, most of them are on express routes or the 3, 16 and 50. It works for the 16 and 50 because those routes have simple schedules.

I think that it is not worth it to put articulated buses in service on local routes to save on operation costs. The decreased service makes the bus system poorer and less reliable.

Expanding Limited Stop Bus Service

March 20, 2009

Limited Stop bus service (like routes 50, 53, and 54) can easily be expanded by changing the ratio of local to limited stop buses in a given corridor. For this post we will use the Lake Street corridor and routes 21 and 53.

Currently during midday periods (EB from Uptown 11:20 am-5:40 pm, WB from Hiawatha 11:22 am-6:09 pm) route 21 runs every 6-7 minutes (9 buses per hour). The route 53 limited stop does not run during middays, only rush hours every 20-30 minutes (2-3 buses per hour). However limited service can be increased by changing the ratio of local buses to limited buses (currently 9:0 per midday hour) to 5:4/4:5 (depending on the hour, due to the irregular number of buses). This would provide faster service to those who are transferring and going to major stops, and provide less service to stops that only attract 1 or 2 riders for each bus.

Here is an example of a possible schedule of Lake Street bus routes from the Uptown Transit Station:

11:00 am – 53A (St. Paul)

11:06 am – 21A (St. Paul)

11:13 am – 53C (Midway)

11:20 am – 21D (St. Thomas)

11:26 am – 53A

11:33 am – 21A

11:40 am – 53C

11:47 am – 21D

11:53 am – 53A

12:00 pm – 21A

To simplify the schedule to 10 buses per hour (a ratio of 5:5) could be done but it would cost extra money for service that isn’t already at 100% capacity. The schedule is already costing extra money because 5 buses go to St. Paul verses the current 3 (this is to keep a similar level of local service between 27th and Cretin). The proposed schedule already cuts Selby Ave. service to 26-28 minute frequency. Unless more locals are added between St. Paul and Marshall/Cretin or Lake St. Limiteds (53s) become locals at Cretin, St. Paul will see a decrease in bus service. During shoulder hours buses run every 10-15 minutes, so additional buses will need to be added to maintain the balance of local and limited buses throughout the day. The local/limited mix should run from 6 am-7 pm to see if something like this will attract more riders to public transit in the corridor.

Welcome to the Minneapolis Transit Blog!

March 20, 2009

Welcome to a new blog about public transit in the Minneapolis area! The aim of this blog is to get more people involved in solving the issues of public transit in the area. I look forward to see the Twin Cities area more friendly to public transit, and blogging as a medium has been ingnored up until now.

Welcome Aboard!