Weigh in on Southwest’s bus rapid transit routes

A graphic of the planned B Line bus rapid transit route along Lake Street in Minneapolis.

An informational open house on two bus rapid transit (BRT) routes planned to run through Southwest Minneapolis will be held in Uptown this May.

Metro Transit is seeking feedback for the B Line, a BRT route planned for the Lake Street-Marshall Avenue corridor, and the E Line, planned to run along Hennepin Avenue from Uptown to Downtown. The open house will run from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on May 22 at the Walker Library.

BRT features several elements transit planners say boost speed. It offers more frequent service on larger vehicles than typical bus lines. Riders pay before boarding, like on light rail, and can enter through both bus doors. More developed stations are spread farther apart than standard bus stops. Signal communication with street lights allows BRT lines to get quicker or elongated green lights.

The B Line would largely replace Route 21, running from the planned West Lake Street Green Line station through Minneapolis along Lake Street and into St. Paul on Marshall Avenue. Metro Transit is considering expanding the route along Selby Avenue through to downtown St. Paul.

Route 21 is Metro Transit’s second busiest bus line, with more than 10,000 rides taken each day, according to the agency. But it’s also one of Metro Transit’s slowest routes, with average speeds of 8 mph during rush hour. The B Line aims to increase the speed of the route by 20 percent.

The line is expected to cost about $54 million, with $23 million in funding from the federal government and the Metropolitan Council already earmarked for the project, according to Metro Transit. Construction is slated to begin in 2022.

The E Line, a planned BRT service that would substantially take over Route 6 along Hennepin Avenue, is also in development this year. Planners are still working to determine the route of the line. Options include traveling on Hennepin past Lake Street before taking Xerxes Avenue to Southdale; traveling south on Hennepin past Lake Street then traveling west to France Avenue; or turning onto West Lake Street to link up with the planned Southwest Light Rail Transit station.

A graphic showing possible route options for the E Line outside of the Hennepin Avenue connection from Uptown to Downtown.
A graphic showing possible route options for the E Line outside of the Hennepin Avenue connection from Uptown to Downtown.

Metro Transit expects to complete the E Line corridor study in the fall, with a final station plan coming in 2020. Construction on the line could begin in 2023 if fully funded. A cost estimate will be made once the route is determined, according to Metro Transit.

Metro Transit currently has one active BRT route, the A Line, which primarily serves the Snelling Avenue Corridor in St. Paul with connection to the Blue Line’s East 46th Street Station in South Minneapolis. The C Line, which connects Brooklyn Center to Downtown via North Minneapolis, is set to begin service in June.

Although Metro Transit recorded lower ridership on its standard bus routes in 2018 the A Line has experienced steady growth since opening in 2016.

Metro Transit has three other information open houses on the B Line scheduled: May 1 at South High School (3131 S. 19th Ave.) from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.; May 2 at Merriam Park Library (1831 Marshall Ave., St. Paul) from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.; May 4 at Oxford Community Center, (270 Lexington Parkway N., St. Paul) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Additional E Line open houses are scheduled for May 20 at Southwest High School at 47th & Chowen from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and May 21 Mary Open School (415 4th Ave. SE) from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.