On the Monday after the blast-off of the Green Line I stopped at a bus shelter for a quick transfer, rejoicing that I was making my way across town – by bus – in record time. As I waited on that sun-drenched morning an elderly gentleman stopped by the shelter to check the new bus route routes and schedules. After a quick perusal of his expanded transit options he declared, “I’m just going to ride ALL of those new routes, just to see where they really do go!”
He didn’t care so much about the train or the details of the bus routes – he wanted to explore the neighborhoods, malls, diners and parks that the new bus routes opened to him! I continue to applaud his commitment to experiential learning!
The fact is that the much-heralded Green Line is the tip of the transit iceberg that has been expanding and improving transit options these past months. The Green Line captures the limelight while some of the less glamorous – and less costly – bus options that recently came on line actually make more difference in the lives of public transit riders.
In recent months Metro Transit has published fascinating previews on their newsy blog (http://www.metrotransit.org/riders-almanac-blog) Still, like that determined gentleman at the shelter, some of us need the riding experience to make it real. My hope is that some of the highlights will lure readers to take a closer look at the new and revamped routes. A few examples give the flavor of the Twin Cities public transportation-work-in-progress.
- Take, for example the expanded Route 67 which replaces the old Route 8. The rehabbed 67 runs mostly on Franklin and Minnehaha between downtown St. Paul and the Blue Line Franklin Avenue Station, with a connection to Green Line stations at Fairview and Raymond. Better yet, the bus runs every 20 minutes Monday-Saturday with hourly runs on Sunday. It even takes a dip in the route to accommodate Augsburg College and the Fairview University Medical Center.
- Or consider Route 83, constructed to fill a gap in North-South service between Snelling and Dale. The run goes between the Roseville Super Target and Montreal Circle just South of West 7th The 83 travels for the most part on Lexington with stops at popular sites including the Ramsey County Library on Hamline and the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory. The bus connects with the Green Line Lexington Parkway Stations. with service every 30 minutes seven days a week.
- Or there’s my personal favorite, Route 30, which has expanded my transit horizons and saved me countless hours on the bus. The 30 connects North and Northeast Minneapolis riders with the Green Line at University and Raymond, entry point to the wonders of the Capitol City without the usual slow trek through downtown Minneapolis. Built with federal funds the route will be evaluated after one year of service – thus my high motivation to fill the seats of Route 30 which currently operates just five days a week.
These are three of dozens of bus routes and options that have been a sadly overlooked in the hoopla afforded the Green Line. Some day I would love to have the time to follow that gentleman’s plan to explore them all. Meantime, there’s much to be gleaned from the Metro Transit blog (http://www.metrotransit.org/riders-almanac-blog).
In fact, for months the folks at Metro Transit have anticipated the changes; the results are on the Rider’s Almanac where there are fascinating details about the routes, the riders, the schedules and the connections. Even more fun for the armchair bus buff are the brief histories of each bus route. Here, for example, is the history of Route 30:
The first horse-drawn streetcars appeared on West Broadway Avenue in 1883. Electric streetcars were introduced in 1891. The Broadway Crosstown streetcar line [ran] between Robbinsdale on the west to Stinson Avenue the east. Buses replaced streetcars in the corridor in 1950….
Though stressed-out drivers bemoan the frequent bus stops that slow their dash to premium parking spots they should instead calculate as they simmer that each of those public transit riders means one less vehicle at the next stoplight.
I choose to celebrate this welcome move towards liberation of those who choose to capitalize on the Twin Cities public transit system. There’s lots to learn about today’s transit options. In fact, hopping on could be easier than the vehicle-dependent realize. The first trip is the hardest – and bus drivers and riders alike tend to be patient with newbies.