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Posts in Category: METRO Green Line

Bus METRO Green Line Route of the Week St. Paul Suburban Transit

Route 262: Sharing laughs while sharing the ride 

| Monday, March 31, 2014 12:00:00 AM

A Route 262 bus at the 95th Avenue Park & Ride in Blaine.For the last two years, Jeanine Wilson has used Route 262 to get from Blaine to her job in downtown St. Paul. The daily commutes have given her plenty of time to make friends and collect stories.

“If all of us are awake, this is a very interesting bus,” Wilson said during a recent southbound trip. “It’s unlike all the others. This is more of a community, actually.”

Wilson, who boards at the 95th Avenue Park & Ride, has been collecting stories in the hopes of creating a Route 262-themed comic strip tentatively called Bus Buzz. Take just one trip on the route and it’s easy to see where the material would come from, too.

While many customers spent their early morning commutes buried in a book or phone, several also laughed, joked and shared stories about their work life. The friendships created on the bus have even led to off-board meet-ups for dinner or drinks.

The camaraderie between passengers helped put Mollie Henefin's mind at ease when she she got a new job in St. Paul and began riding the bus last year.

“The only time I ever rode the bus before was when I was in school, but now I feel pretty good about it,” Henefin said.

Sue Maxey lives and works within a block of Henefin and has become one of her trusted “bus buddies.” Maxey has been riding the bus since 1996 and said she enjoys not just the friendships but also the convenience and cost savings.

Customers board a Route 262 bus on Rice Street in St. Paul.She's put just 100,000 miles on her 1996 vehicle by taking the bus instead of driving to work.

“I appreciate the bus because it’s cheaper and there’s a lot less wear and tear on the vehicles, especially with all the potholes,” she said.

Cost is what drove Karl Rosenquist to Route 262 seven years ago. The Shorview resident initially drove to his job in St. Paul but turned to transit when he realized he could save money and get there in roughly the same amount of time.

With limited-stop service on Rice Street, the trip from Shoreview to St. Paul takes around a half hour.

“And in rush hour I can get there even quicker (on the bus),” Rosenquist said.

For Jan Kinney, the motivation to take the bus came when she broke her foot this winter and could no longer drive. Her foot has since healed but she’s still taking the bus to work each day.

“Ever since then, it’s just that I don’t want to drive,” said Kinney, who was spending her time on the bus knitting a pair of socks for her granddaughter.

Whatever led them to transit, Route 262 customers all agreed that they’ve stayed because the experience is preferable to driving. For many, the alternative would be driving on Interstate 35E, frequently congested during rush hour.

After three years riding the bus, Mary Locht doesn’t like the idea of getting back behind the wheel. Besides saving money to spoil her 14 grandchildren, she says her commutes are considerably more relaxed.

“When I’m driving, there is more honking than laughing,” she said. “I think my stress level is much better when I’m not driving.”

A Route 262 bus at Union Depot Transit Center in St. Paul.Route 262 At a Glance

Type: Limited stop

ServiceRoute 262 buses run between the 95th Avenue Park & Ride and downtown St. Paul, serving commuters in Blaine, Shoreview and Little Canada. Buses run along Hodgson Road and Rice Street. There is limited-stop service on Rice Street between County Road C and University Avenue. There are three trips each weekday morning (departing the 95th Avenue Park & Ride at 5:54 a.m., 6:21 a.m. and 6:50 a.m.) and three trips each weekday evening (departing Union Depot at 4:07 p.m., 4:37 p.m. and 5:07 p.m.). Route 62 provides complementary local service on Rice Street between St. Paul and Shoreview.

Route Length: Approximately 19 miles

Stops: 76 southbound, 77 northbound

Vehicles: Standard 40-foot buses

Ridership: 36,224 total passenger boardings in 2013 with an average of 143 rides per weekday.

History: Transit service on Rice Street dates to 1888, when horse-drawn streetcars operated between downtown and Maryland Avenue. Electric streetcars arrived three years later and were eventually replaced by buses. North Suburban Lines, the last of the private suburban bus companies, ran a bus line on Rice Street to Circle Pines, which is now served by Route 262.

Future: Route 262 will connect with the METRO Green Line’s Capitol/Rice, 10th Street and Central stations. The route's southern terminus is Union Depot, which will also be served by the Green Line's Union Depot Station.

METRO Green Line St. Paul Station Spotlight

Green Line brings Capitol connections 

| Wednesday, March 26, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Image of METRO Green Line train in front of Minnesota State Capitol. Kevin Frazell and his wife typically carpool from their home in downtown Minneapolis to their jobs on University Avenue in St. Paul.

Beginning June 14, they’ll have another way to share the ride – the METRO Green Line.

“The nice part about it is that if we drive together and one of us needs or wants to go home early, it’ll be really easy to do that,” Frazell said. “We’ll have a whole new set of options.”

Frazell is one of more than 100 employees who work at the League of Minnesota Cities, which is located just north of the Green Line’s Capitol/Rice Street Station. His wife works near Hamline Avenue Station.

The League’s offices are just one of the destinations near the Capitol/Rice Street Station, which sits at the intersection of University Avenue and Rice Street.

The Minnesota State Capitol is located just east of the station while the Western Sculpture Park and Minnesota History Center can be found a few blocks to the south. North of the station is the Rice Street business corridor, the Capitol Heights neighborhood overlooking St. Paul and the Oakland Cemetery, where some of St. Paul’s most prominent early leaders are laid to rest. Also north of the station is the state-owned Ford Building, where the Ford Motor Co. briefly produced cars in an unusual multi-level factory.

Don Grundhauser has lived in Capitol Heights for nearly 50 years and is just two blocks from the new Green Line station. Grundhauser said he plans to use light rail to avoid parking hassles when going to Minneapolis for Twins games or shopping.

“Usually I drive and pay for parking in a ramp but this will be a lot more convenient,” he said. “It will be kind of a different adventure.”

Not everyone boarding the Green Line at the Capitol/Rice Street Station will be traveling all the way to Minneapolis, though.

Employees at HealthEast will be able to use light rail to travel between several of the health care provider’s various St. Paul locations.

Image of Capitol / Rice Street Station on the METRO Green Line. Besides Bethesda Hospital, which is north of Capitol/Rice Station, HealthEast owns St. Joseph’s Hospital, near 10th Street Station, and has its headquarters at 1700 University Ave., near Snelling Avenue Station. It also recently opened the Midway Clinic, near Hamline Avenue Station.

“Whether it’s for employees, patients or family members of patients, this is an option that we’re all very excited about,” said Jodi Ritacca, Senior Public Relations Specialist for HealthEast.

Ritacca said the Capitol/Rice Street Station will be used by hundreds of employees who work at Bethesda and by visitors to the hospital, which specializes in long-term care.

The most visible destination for the Capitol/Rice Station, though, is in the station’s namesake – the Minnesota State Capitol.

St. Paul-based visual artist Seitu Jones used the Minnesota Bill of Rights translated into multiple languages. A poem written by John Minczeski is also featured in the station’s railings.

“Folks getting off at the station all need to be reminded of Minnesota’s organizing document and that we have a whole slew of rights guaranteed under the constitution,” Jones said.

While much of the area around the station is owned by the state, additional development could replace large surface parking lots in the years to come.

Plans to redevelop the Sears property south of University Avenue have been floated and the League of Minnesota Cities is in the early stages of planning mixed-use development on the land it owns surrounding its offices.

Jim Miller, the League’s executive director, said he is “keenly interested in the impact the station will have” on land use in the area.

“Anything that can help increase the vibrancy of the Central Corridor is positive for everybody who works in the area, lives in the area or owns property in the area,” he said. “The excitement is building.”

Image of Capitol / Rice Street Station on the METRO Green Line. Capitol/Rice Station At a Glance

Connecting bus routes: Route 3, with service between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul along Como Avenue and Rice Street; Route 16, with service every 20 minutes between downtown St. Paul and the University of Minnesota along University Avenue; Route 62, with service between Shoreview and St. Paul along Rice Street; Route 67, with service between downtown St. Paul and the METRO Blue Line’s Franklin Avenue Station along Minnehaha and Franklin avenues. Route 262, with service between Blaine and St. Paul along Rice Street.

Public art: St. Paul artist Seitu Jones has created aluminum scrolls that will wrap light columns at the station and feature elements of the Minnesota Bill of Rights, such as the freedom of the press and right to own property. A poem written by John Minczeski is also featured in the station’s railings. Learn more

Area landmarksMinnesota State Capitol, Western Sculpture Park, Minnesota History Center, Rice Street, Capitol Heights neighborhood, Oakland Cemetery.

Bike-ped connections: East of the station, there are bike lanes on Park Street and John Ireland Boulevard. There are also bike lanes on Como Avenue, north of the station. This summer, St. Paul will construct a bike boulevard on Charles Avenue between North Aldine Street and Park Street. Nice Ride kiosks are also located nearby.

Neighborhood groupsFrogtown Neighborhood Association; Summit University Planning Council

Bus METRO Green Line Route of the Week St. Paul

Route 63: From Grand Avenue to the Green Line 

| Friday, March 21, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Bruce Pedalty hadn’t boarded a bus in 20 years. But this week, assigned to jury duty in downtown St. Paul and wanting to avoid parking costs, he decided to give it another try.

“It was just too easy not to,” Pedalty said as he traveled east on Route 63.

Unlike Pedalty, many of the passengers recently interviewed aboard Route 63 have spent years if not decades using the bus to run errands, get to work or make their way to class.

The route serves a mix of commuters, students and residents as it moves along Grand Avenue, past the University of St. Thomas and Macalester College, retail nodes and residential areas. East of downtown St. Paul, buses travel on 3rd Street East and McKnight Road, serving additional residential areas and shopping centers.              

Chris Wood is among those who have long used Route 63. For the last 20 years, he has commuted by bus between his home near Snelling and Grand avenues and his job downtown. Wood characterized his decision to rely on transit as a rationale response to the responsibilities and high cost of owning and maintaining a vehicle.

“Driving is a choice. It’s not mandatory,” he said. “When I’m making a choice to do something I need to have a reason and I just don’t have a reason to drive.”

Jamie Wersal was also motivated by simplicity and cost savings when she elected to buy a Metropass and start commuting to her new job downtown a few months ago. She spends her time on Route 63 browsing Facebook or simply looking out the window and relaxing.

“I like looking at the sights,” she said. “I know I see them every day but they’re still pretty.”

East St. Paul resident Kassie Church has a similar motivation for using Route 63. Instead of looking out the window, though, she spends her time on the bus buried in a book. “I like to read and obviously, I can’t read when I drive,” she said.

The convenience of Route 63 will be further enhanced when the METRO Green Line opens June 14.

On the west end, the route will be extended north on Cretin Avenue to connect with the Raymond Avenue Station. Service will also be increased with trips every 10 to 20 minutes during rush hour and every 20 minutes midday, nights and weekends.

John Hershey, the neighborhood liaison for the University of St. Thomas, said the new Green Line connection will make it easier for students, faculty and staff to take transit to downtown Minneapolis.

While many of the school’s 6,000 undergraduates live on or near campus, they frequently travel across the Mississippi River for entertainment and shopping, he said. The university’s law and graduate business schools are also located in downtown Minneapolis.

“The more options we have, the more it opens things up and allows people to think more creatively about using transit,” Hershey said.

For Kate Westfall, who lives in Summit-University and has commuted for years on Route 63, the Green Line is all about entertainment. Westfall and her friends are already making plans to attend baseball games at each end of the Green Line. The St. Paul Saints stadium sits at the east end, in Lowertown, and Target Field is at the west end in Minneapolis.

“We’re all kind of excited about the idea of making that a super day and going to two games in one day,” she said.

The Green Line’s arrival comes nearly 124 years after St. Paul’s first electric streetcar line opened on Grand Avenue, encouraging a wave of residential and business development.

Noreen Farrell, a self-professed transit advocate who has used Route 63 since moving to St. Paul in 2000, is glad to have rail service back in the mix. Farrell lives near Grand Avenue and Dale Street and plans to use the Green Line to get to shows and other events in Minneapolis. “We do a lot of things in Minneapolis so there’s a good chance we’ll use the light rail,” she said.

Pedalty, the customer who returned to the bus after a two-decade hiatus, said he too would be open to making trips on the bus and train a more regular part of his routine. “My wife and I are talking about it,” he said.

Route 63 At a Glance

Type: Urban Local

Service: From the University of St. Thomas, Route 63 buses continue to downtown St. Paul along Grand and Smith avenues. The route travels into St. Paul’s east side on Kellogg Boulevard and 3rd Street East. Buses stop at Sun Ray Transit Center and then continue south on McKnight Road South. Buses operate approximately every 13 to 30 minutes during rush hour, every 20 to 30 minutes midday and every 30 minutes in the evening and on Saturday. Buses operate every 30 to 60 minutes on Sundays. Weekday service runs from approximately 6 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Route Length: Approximately 11 miles

Stops: 92 eastbound; 88 westbound

Vehicles: Standard 40-foot buses; all buses on the route are hybrids

Ridership: Nearly 1.24 million customer boardings in 2013, with an average of 3,384 passengers per day

History: St. Paul’s first electric streetcars operated on Grand Avenue beginning in 1890. The streetcar line led to residential development and drew several schools to the corridor, including St. Thomas College, St. Paul Academy and Macalester College. Prior to the electric streetcars, horsecars ran on Grand Avenue between Dale and Victoria streets beginning in 1883. Streetcars were replaced by buses in 1952.

Future: On the west end, Route 63 will be extended north from Grand Avenue to University Avenue to connect with the METRO Green Line’s Raymond Avenue Station and routes 16, 30, 67 and 87. The route will also connect with the Green Line’s Central and Union Depot stations. Service will improve to every 10 to 20 minutes during rush hour, and every 20 minutes midday, evenings and weekends. The A Line (Snelling Avenue Bus Rapid Transit) will include stations at Snelling and Grand avenues.

Bus METRO Green Line Midtown Corridor Minneapolis Route of the Week St. Paul

Route 53: Limited stops from Lake Street to Lowertown 

| Thursday, March 13, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Jeff Nelson likes to be productive – even when he’s commuting.

That’s why, for nearly a decade, he’s been taking the bus to his job at the Department of Employment and Economic Development in St. Paul. In the summer months, he combines short bike trips with a ride on Route 94. In the winter, when his routine includes morning visits to a gym near Nicollet Avenue and Lake Street, he catches Route 53.

One of the main reasons: he can use the time on the bus to squeeze in a little more work at the beginning and end of each workday, reading and catching up on e-mail while moving to and from the office.

“One of the biggest reasons I take the bus is that driving on I-94 can be such a pain,” Nelson said during a recent morning trip on Route 53. “Sitting in traffic, I’m just burning gas and wasting time.”

Nelson’s philosophy was shared by many commuters on Route 53, which travels between the Uptown Transit Center and downtown St. Paul along Lake Street, Marshall Avenue and Interstate 94. The route includes stops at the Chicago/Lake Transit Center and the METRO Blue Line’s Lake Street/Midtown Station.

Between Uptown and Snelling Avenue, Route 53 covers much of the same terrain as Route 21. But it offers a quicker trip with around one-third the number of stops and also non-stop service on I-94 between Snelling Avenue and downtown St. Paul. Route 53 buses run only on weekdays, with eight eastbound trips each morning rush hour and ten westbound trips each evening rush hour.                   

Liam Moore, who boards at Otis and Marshall avenues, appreciates the efficiency of his limited-stop trip to downtown St. Paul, where he works at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Moore and his girlfriend share a vehicle, so he takes the bus to work every day.

“It’s nice because it’s such a direct route to downtown St. Paul,” Moore said.

Other eastbound commuters who travel shorter distances use the Route 53 and Route 21 interchangeably, based on their schedules.

Among them is DeAndre Lindsey, who takes Route 17 from his home in St. Louis Park and transfers to Route 53 or Route 21 at the Uptown Transit Center to get to work near Lake Street and Blaisdell Avenue. Though he could drive, Lindsey has been commuting by transit for the last eight years because he sees it as a cheaper and easier way of getting to work.

“And it forces me to stay on time,” Lindsey said.

Audrey Blanchard, who also boarded at the Uptown Transit Center, said she too could drive but prefers to take transit. Blanchard rides Route 53 to the Chicago/Lake Transit Center, near her workplace at the Midtown Exchange, and appreciates not having to pay for parking while on the clock.

“I could drive, but this is just much more convenient,” Blanchard said. “I’ve got my schedule down so this is easy.”

For Linda Griffin, riding the bus is also about convenience. Griffin takes Route 53 three times a week to the Division of Indian Work, where she volunteers. “I like the fact that I don’t have to warm up my car in the winter, but even in the summer I ride,” she said.

Route 53 customers who travel to St. Paul will have another transit option when the METRO Green Line opens June 14. Route 53 buses will connect with the Green Line’s Central Station, at Fifth and Cedar streets, and the Union Depot, the Green Line’s eastern terminus.

Though not considered a major feeder route for the Green Line, employees who work north of downtown St. Paul on Lafyette Road could use Route 53 to get to the Green Line’s downtown stations.

Route 53 customers may also someday see changes to service on the Lake Street corridor. A recent study of transit in the Midtown Corridor concluded with a recommendation for Bus Rapid Transit on Lake Street and rail in the Midtown Greenway.

BRT would cut travel time by offering fewer stops and technologies like off-board fare payment and traffic signal priority. Route 21 will continue to operate alongside BRT but Route 53 would be replaced. Select BRT trips could continue from Snelling Avenue to downtown St. Paul during rush hour.

Route 53 At a Glance

Type: Limited stop

ServiceRoute 53 runs between the Uptown Transit Center and downtown St. Paul, along Lake Street, Marshall Avenue and I-94. Eight eastbound trips depart Minneapolis each morning between approximately 6 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. In the evening, ten westbound trips depart St. Paul between approximately 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. The Chicago/Lake Transit Center and METRO Blue Line’s Lake Street/Midtown Station are major transfer points along the route. Route 21 covers similar territory as Route 53, but has more stops. Route 21 also makes stops at University Avenue and Snelling Avenue and on Selby Avenue in St. Paul.

Route Length: Approximately 12 miles

Stops: 33 eastbound; 33 westbound

Vehicles: Standard 40-foot buses

Ridership: More than 216,000 customer boardings in 2013, with an average of 859 passengers per day. Ridership grew more than 8 percent between 2012 and 2013.

History: The Selby-Lake streetcar line operated from 1906 until 1953 and was among the most important crosstown connections in the burgeoning streetcar system, with more passengers per mile than any other route. An express bus also traveled on Lake Street to downtown St. Paul in the 1920s, competing with the Selby-Lake streetcar. Route 53 is the successor of that express bus service. 

Future: When the METRO Green Line opens June 14, Route 53 customers will be able to transfer to the train at the Union Depot and Central Station. The Midtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis also recommended Bus Rapid Transit on Lake Street, between the METRO Blue Line’s Lake Street/Midtown Station and the proposed West Lake Station on the METRO Green Line Extension (Southwest LRT). BRT features could be continued on Marshall and Snelling avenues, connecting with the Green Line’s Snelling Avenue Station.


Bus METRO Green Line Route of the Week

Route 65: Ditching the drive on Dale 

| Monday, March 10, 2014 10:03:00 AM

Every weekday morning, Fran Crisler boards a Route 65 bus with his daughter and travels with her to Barack and Michelle Obama Elementary, a block west of Dale Street.

“They don’t let me get on the school bus so she won’t get on either,” Crisler said this week, returning home after seeing his daughter off at the St. Paul school.

Crisler doesn’t mind the ride. In fact, he regularly uses Route 65 to travel the Dale Street corridor and to get to downtown St. Paul.

On a recent weekday morning, he was joined by plenty of others traveling to work, school or appointments and using the bus as a way to avoid the hassles and costs of driving.

Among them was Abdi Teferra, who has commuted on Route 65 for the last three years. Teferra boards at the Rosedale Transit Center, at Roseville’s Rosedale Center, and rides to work in downtown St. Paul.

Teferra saves money by using a Metropass that allows unlimited rides instead of paying for gas and facing parking costs of up to $9 a day.

“I have two kids so saving that money means a lot to me,” said Teferra, who uses his time on the bus to read, catch up on e-mail or simply relax.

Traveling southbound, Teferra’s end-to-end trip takes around 40 minutes. From Roseville, Route 65 buses run south on Snelling Avenue and east on County Road B to Dale Street, where they continue southbound to Selby Avenue.

Buses travel through the Summit-University neighborhood and enter downtown St. Paul via Summit Avenue, with rush hour trips terminating at the Union Depot. Midday and evening trips going as far as Jackson and Sixth streets.

South St. Paul resident Dave Campbell takes Route 65 the other direction, using a Route 68 bus to get downtown and transferring to Route 65 to get to his job at Rosedale Center.

Campbell turned to the bus after his vehicle broke down three months ago. While he may go back to the car eventually, he has appreciated having the bus there during his time of need.

“It has been a real blessing that I’ve been able to take the bus,” he said.

When the METRO Green Line opens June 14, Route 65 customers will be blessed with something else – a connection to the Dale Street Station. Service on the route will also be improved to every 20 minutes.

Erma Flowers, who boarded Route 65 near her home at County Road B and Snelling Avenue, said she is looking forward to the Green Line’s opening, which she hopes will make it easier to travel to Minneapolis.

“I can’t wait,” said Flowers, who uses transit to visit friends and go to appointments. “I think it will get me where I want to go a lot faster.”

Because Route 65 customers will be able to transfer to the Green Line, the route will no longer go to downtown St. Paul but instead continue south to Dale Street and Grand Avenue. The change will go into effect the same day the Green Line opens.

Tory Hart, who used Route 65 while at Roseville High School, said he'll start combining trips once the train opens. Hart lives off Dale Street and said he will take the bus to Dale Street Station and ride the train downtown any time he wants to get to an event.

“That will be a lot cheaper and easier,” he said.

Route 65 At a Glance

Type: Urban Local

ServiceRoute 65 runs between the Rosedale Transit Center in Roseville and downtown St. Paul. Traveling southbound, buses run on County Road B to Dale Street and Selby Avenue. Buses enter St. Paul via Summit Avenue and Kellogg Boulevard. In St. Paul, peak hour trips terminate at Union Depot while midday and evening trips terminate at Jackson and Sixth streets. Weekday trips run every 30 minutes beginning from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and every hour until 10:30 p.m. Trips run every half hour between 8:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on weekends.

Route Length: Approximately 9 miles

Stops: 64 northbound, 66 southbound

Vehicles: 40-foot standard buses

Ridership: More than 347,000 customer boardings in 2013, with an average of 952 passengers per day

History: Streetcars operated on Dale Street from 1914 to 1952. The Dale Street line intersected with several east-west routes and used shared tracks on Grand Avenue to downtown St. Paul. The line went as far north at Maryland Avenue, where it veered west and ended on the eastern shore of Lake Como and Como Park. Buses replaced streetcars in 1952.

Future: When the METRO Green Line opens June 14, Route 65 will connect to the Dale Street Station at University Avenue and Dale Street. Buses will no longer go to downtown St. Paul via Selby Avenue. Instead, service will continue on Dale Street to Grand Avenue as they did from 1953 to 2001. Service will be improved to every 20 minutes from 5 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday and from 6 a.m. to midnight on Sunday. More details can be found here.

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