Snelling Avenue getting 'rapid bus' route to connect light-rail lines
Jan 03, 2013 (Pioneer Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Metro Transit officials envision a new "rapid bus" route that would mostly travel along Snelling Avenue in St. Paul, starting at the 46th Street light-rail transit station in Minneapolis and ending at the Rosedale transit center.
The line is being called an important neighborhood connection between the Hiawatha light-rail transit line and the Central Corridor line. A budget and construction timeline have yet to be finalized, but officials are guessing that station work could begin in 2014. Vehicles and station costs could total $25 million.
The route beat out 10 other proposed bus rapid transit lines to become the Metropolitan Council's latest priority.
"Snelling is the one that scored highest, with West Seventh Street coming in second, and a mixed bag for third," said Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland.
The "arterial rapid bus service" would not be quite as fancy as the bus rapid transit (BRT) plans unfolding along Cedar Avenue in Dakota County, but "it's a modified form of BRT," said Metropolitan Council spokeswoman Bonnie Kollodge.
Among the differences, the Snelling Avenue bus would operate in regular traffic instead of enjoying its own lane. Among the similarities, low-floor, low-emission buses will offer preboarding fare payments at modern, heated transit stations and make no more than two or three stops per mile, as opposed to block-to-block service. Riders can expect faster, more frequent service than regular buses, according to the Met
"The goal is that the stylings and graphics, the look and feel of the bus, would be distinct from other transit buses," Siqveland said.
The Snelling Avenue route would be the region's first arterial rapid bus line, and officials hope it will be the first of several across the metro area.
"The basic premise of this service ... is to enhance speed and customer convenience on our highest ridership corridors," Charles Carlson, manager of transitways planning for Metro Transit, said in a statement.
The overall idea is to connect the service to light-rail and other connecting routes. "Wherever there are connecting routes, there will probably be a station," Carlson wrote.
Metro Transit studied other regions and found ridership increased 20 percent to 40 percent after BRT rolled out.
The locations of the stations on Snelling Avenue still are being determined. Transit officials are meeting with neighborhood committees and hosting public hearings to determine how best to design the bus route, including what to name it.
More information is available online at MetroTransit.org/rapidbus.
Frederick Melo can be reached at 651-228-2172. Follow him at twitter.com/FrederickMelo.
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