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METRO Green Line University of Minnesota

East Bank Station tops 1 million boardings 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, April 23, 2015 12:00:00 AM

The METRO Green Line's East Bank Station. Without a vehicle, University of Minnesota senior Kelsey Decker relies on transit to get to school, work and go shopping. One of her primary boarding locations: the METRO Green Line’s East Bank Station, situated at the heart of the U of M campus.

Decker was at the station this week as she prepared to board a westbound train that would take her to downtown Minneapolis, where she could transfer to the Blue Line en route to her job at Ikea in Bloomington. Decker estimates she’s at the station at least four times a week.

“I’ve been using the Green Line pretty much since the day it opened,” Decker said. “It’s very convenient and comfortable.”

Riders like Decker have made East Bank Station the most popular boarding location on the Green Line. In March, it became the first of the Green Line’s 23 stations to top 1 million boardings since service began in June 2014. Year-to-date, there have been an average of 4,468 weekday boardings at East Bank Station.

“Being in the middle of campus and near several major destinations, we knew East Bank Station would be a popular boarding location,” Director of Light Rail Brian Funk said. “We’re excited to see students and others using the Green Line as part of their daily travels.”

East Bank Station’s popularity is just one sign that the U of M has fully-embraced the Green Line. More than 16,000 U-Passes, which provide unlimited rides for a per-semester fee, have been sold this spring semester.

Combined, the three stations that serve the U of M campus – Stadium Village, East Bank and West Bank – have seen nearly 2 million total boardings. That represents about 22 percent of the 9.1 million total rides the Green Line has seen since service began.

Like Decker, U of M student Ian Rapson is also at East Bank Station several times a week. Rapson rides the Green Line between campus and Nicollet Mall Station (the Green Line's second-busies station), where he transfers to a Route 10 bus that delivers him to and from him home in Northeast Minneapolis.

“I do a lot of biking, but this is just as convenient and I like that can read when I take transit,” Rapson said.

    > Good Question: How are light rail rides counted?

    > Learn more about East Bank Station's public art

    > University of Minnesota Transit Service

    > Washington Avenue Transit/Pedestrian Mall

Community METRO Green Line Minneapolis Safety St. Paul University of Minnesota

Strong ridership defines first six months of METRO Green Line service 

| Tuesday, December 16, 2014 2:41:00 PM

There were around 6 million rides on the METRO Green Line during its first six months of service.Strong and growing ridership is the hallmark of the METRO Green Line’s first six-months of operation.

Customers have taken about 6 million rides since service began on June 14, including more than 1 million rides in both September and October. Average weekday ridership in November was 36,240, near the 2030 projection of 41,000 rides. 

“The community response to the Green Line is even better than we imagined,” Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said. “In less than one year of operation, the Green Line has clearly had a major impact on the way people get around, interact with and enjoy the Twin Cities.”  

Combined ridership on the Green Line and routes 16 and 94, which also serve the Central Corridor, has nearly doubled from last year. The Green Line replaced limited-stop Route 50 that ran on University Avenue and service was enhanced on several routes that connect with Green Line stations.

The most popular stops have been East Bank Station, in the center of the University of Minnesota campus, and Nicollet Mall Station in downtown Minneapolis. Stadium Village Station, near TCF Bank Stadium, has also become a hub of activity on gamedays. Around 25 percent of Minnesota Vikings fans took the Green Line to and from the game this season, double the ridership from previous years.

Combined with other rail and bus service, the Green Line is expected to drive Metro Transit’s total year-end ridership to around 84 million, the highest it has been since 1981.

In addition to strong ridership, the first six months of Green Line service are noteworthy for the focus on public safety, enhanced performance and community development.  

Metro Transit continued to educate pedestrians, motorists and others about light rail safety through presentations and a robust marketing campaign, including a billboard on University Avenue.

Transit Police hired 22 new officers to patrol the Green Line and the neighborhoods it serves. Transit Police say there has been no significant change in crime along the corridor since the Green Line opened.

Light-rail operations have also improved through coordination with local partners. Technology called predictive priority has been successfully implemented at 18 low-volume intersections along the Green Line corridor. Predictive priority gives trains their best chance of getting a green light, reducing the amount of time trains spend waiting at signalized intersections.

Transit-oriented development has also continued along the corridor.

Project for Pride in Living started construction in August on its 108-unit Hamline Station Project, which replaces a vacant auto dealership immediately north of the Hamline Avenue Station. On Dec. 19, Surly Brewing Co. will open its new beer hall just east of the Prospect Park Station.

In November, seniors began moving into The Terrace at Iris Park at Episcopal Homes’ new Midway Village development immediately south of the Fairview Avenue Station. In December, move-ins began at Midway Pointe, the second of three new residences at Midway Village. The third residence, Episcopal Church Home – The Gardens, will be ready for occupancy in January 2015.

Residents of the entire campus began using light-rail as soon as it opened, CEO Marvin Plakut said.

“Interest in our community increased even before the Green Line’s opening and continues to grow now that the service is up and running,” Plakut said. “People are excited by the freedom that waits right outside their door. Episcopal Homes is the only senior community that can offer it.”

    > New York Times: Despite cheaper gas, public transit ridership is up 

    > Explore the Twin Cities using our Green Line A to Z guide

    > Green Line tops 1 million rides, again

Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Northstar University of Minnesota

Vikings fans bleed purple, ride Green 

| Tuesday, November 04, 2014 1:22:00 PM

Vikings fans board the METRO Green Line at Stadium Village Station.Vikings fans have long enjoyed traveling to and from home games on light rail. And while it’s been all about the METRO Blue Line in past seasons, the opening of the METRO Green Line and a move to TCF Bank Stadium has changed the gameday dynamic.

Fans traveling to the game on light rail now take the Green Line to Stadium Village Station, which sits just east of TCF Bank Stadium. Those traveling from Minneapolis or points south can ride the Blue Line to Downtown East Station – where the Vikings’ new stadium is being built – and make an easy transfer to the Green Line to complete their journey.

The expanded transit opportunities, which also include bus and Northstar services, have led to a major uptick in gameday ridership. An estimated 20 to 24 percent of fans – nearly 13,000 people – have taken light rail to each of the Vikings’ regular season home games so far this season. Gophers fans have also heavily used light rail on gamedays.

Ridership to Vikings games has nearly doubled from previous seasons, but careful planning is allowing fans to travel easily and efficiently to and from each game.

For the first time this season, Metro Transit is offering pre-paid, round trip light-rail fares online so fans can bypass ticket vending machines (Metro Transit police continue to check fares before customers are allowed to board). Ambassadors are also available to answer questions at the station. To help move fans safely and efficiently, extra trains provide additional service after each game as needed.

It’s hard to understand just how well the system works without seeing it in action. The below lapse, taken following Minnesota's win on Sunday, Nov.2,  does just that (the video compresses about an hour's worth of post-game boarding activity). The next time you head to the game, consider joining the crowd!

    > The easy way to Vikings games & events at TCF Bank Stadium

    > Plan your trip to TCF Bank Stadium

Bus METRO Green Line Route of the Week St. Paul University of Minnesota

Route 87: Connecting the University of Minnesota to University Avenue 

| Monday, April 14, 2014 8:27:00 AM

Route 87 passed the METRO Green Line's Raymond Avenue Station on University Avenue.JB Shank sat aboard Route 87, laptop open, putting the finishing touches on a presentation he was due to deliver later that day.

A history professor at the University of Minnesota, Shank said he frequently brings his computer out on the bus and finds ways to be productive while traveling to and from the office.

“It’s another 20 or 30 minutes more work I get to do every day,” Shank said as he recently traveled towards the U of M’s St. Paul Campus.

Shank is among a host of customers who have found benefits to traveling on Route 87, which runs between St. Paul's Highland Village and the Rosedale Transit Center in Roseville. Buses run largely along Cleveland, University, Raymond and Fairview avenues.

The route is used by residents traveling to and from work, shoppers headed to Rosedale Center or Highland Village and those traveling to the U of M’s St. Paul campus, where parking can be a challenge.

Will Secur, a graduate student studying applied economics at the U of M, is among those who take Route 87 to class.

Secur said he hadn't used transit before moving from Virginia to St. Paul last year, but that he found taking the bus to be the easiest, most cost-effective way of getting to class. Secur uses a U Pass that allows students to make unlimited bus and METRO trips for less than $100 a semester. 

"I like that I get to read, catch up on e-mail or just sit and relax before going to class," he said. "And it's pretty much door-to-door service."

Students exit a Route 87 bus at the University of Minnesota's St. Paul Campus.

Jade Erickson, who boarded near Como and Cleveland avenues, has also found Route 87 to be the easiest way of getting around. For two years, Erickson took the route to classes at the U of M; now she rides to her job as a librarian at St. Catherine University.

"I drove for a couple of weeks but it was just too stressful," she said. 

Elma Williams realized how simple and convenient it is to take Route 87 when her car recently went to the shop for repairs. 

Needing a way to get to work, Williams called Metro Transit’s Transit Information Center and learned she could board near her home at University and Prior avenues and ride directly to her job at the Dollar Tree.

“This basically picks me up at the door and lets me off at the door,” said Williams, who expects to continue riding even after her vehicle is fixed. 

When the METRO Green Line opens June 14, Route 87 customers will find it even easier to get around. The route will make timed transfers to the Green Line at the Raymond Avenue Station, which will also be served by routes 1663 and 67Service on Route 87 will also be improved from every half hour to every 20 minutes, seven days a week. 

Jessica Rains, who has used Route 87 for nearly a decade, said she is grateful for the increased service. When Route 87 doesn’t match her schedule, Rains turns to Route 84, which runs on Snelling Avenue and is further from where she needs to be. “When I ride the 84, I get a lot of exercise,” she said. “This will make it much easier to get back and forth.”

Kurt Sanderson is also looking forward to an easier commute. After taking a job at Ecolab in downtown St. Paul, he began taking Route 87 to University Avenue and transferring to Route 50, a limited-stop bus on University Avenue. Route 50 will be replaced by more frequent, consistent Green Line rail service.

“I think that will make it a lot easier to get in and out (of downtown St. Paul),” Sanderson said. “I’ll be able to walk less than 1/10 of a mile getting from my house to the stop, to the train to the office.”

A Route 87 bus travels through St. Paul's Highland Village neighorhood on Cleveland Avenue.Route 87 At a Glance

Type: Urban local

ServiceRoute 87 runs between the Rosedale Transit Center and Highland Village, along Fairview, Raymond, University and Cleveland avenues. The route runs near three major schools – the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul Campus, the University of St. Thomas and St. Catherine University. Buses run every half hour between approximately 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Route Length: Approximately 8 miles

Stops: 55 northbound, 56 southbound

Vehicles: 30-foot standard diesel buses 

Ridership: There were 160,502 rides on Route 87 in 2013, with an average of 614 customer boardings per weekday.

History: Buses ran from University and Prior avenues to Cleveland and Ford Parkway beginning in 1926. When streetcars replaced buses in 1952, the route was combined with bus service to downtown St. Paul via Minnehaha Avenue (today’s Route 67). A shuttle bus ran from Raymond and University avenues through the St. Anthony Park neighborhood, later becoming a rush-hour only branch of Route 16. This service was later combined with the route running south of University Avenue to Highland Village and a Roseville circulator route to create Route 87.

Future: When the METRO Green Line opens June 14, service will improve to every 20 minutes, seven days a week. Route 87 will also make timed transfers with the Green Line at the Raymond Avenue Station, which will also be served by routes 16, 63 and 67.

METRO Green Line Minneapolis Station Spotlight University of Minnesota

Getting to the game and more on the Green Line 

| Tuesday, April 08, 2014 12:00:00 AM

A METRO Green Line test train departs Stadium Village Station in Minneapolis.When the cost of gas skyrocketed in 2008, Wally Widlund and his wife decided to make a change.

The couple sold their car and relocated from south Minneapolis to Prospect Park, nearer to work at the University of Minnesota.The decision to go car free has meant more walking and almost daily bus rides to fetch groceries, stop at the library or go the gym.

Beginning June 14, they’ll have an additional option  – the METRO Green Line. The Green Line’s Stadium Village Station is just a few blocks north of their home and will provide convenient and reliable transportation to both downtowns and the University Avenue corridor. “I’m really looking forward to being able to easily go to St. Paul and accessing all that’s along University Avenue,” Widlund said recently, riding to the Minneapolis Whole Foods on Route 6. “It will make it a lot easier for us, and I just like the vibrancy it will bring to the neighborhood.”

Widlund’s enthusiasm is shared by business owners, residents and commuters who will use Stadium Village Station.

Located at University Avenue and 23rd Avenue SE, the station will provide immediate access to TCF Bank Stadium, which the Golden Gophers football team will share with the Minnesota Vikings while a new stadium is constructed in Minneapolis. Several other U of M athletic facilities, including Williams Arena and Mariucci Arena, the McNamara Alumni Center and the Biomedical Discovery District are also nearby.

“We are excited about the Green Line opening,” said Jacqueline Brudlos, communications manager for the U of M’s Parking and Transportation Services. “Its impact on gamedays as well as the average school day should offer...relief to drivers in the immediate vicinity of campus.”

Brudlos, communications manager for the U of M’s Parking and Transportation Services. “Its impact on gamedays as well as the average school day should offer some potential relief to drivers in the immediate vicinity of campus.”  

Just south of Stadium Village Station is the bustling Stadium Village commercial district, which got its name after businesses located near the U of M’s former Memorial Stadium.

Christopher Ferguson is active in the business community and owns two Stadium Village businesses, a Dairy Queen and Bywater Business Solutions. Ferguson said he and other business owners are largely optimistic about what the Green Line will mean for the area.

A METRO Green Line train near the Stadium Village Station in Minneapolis.The hope is that the Green Line’s convenience will bring community members to Stadium Village throughout the year, and that some train passengers will be compelled to stop while traveling along the corridor.

Stadium Village businesses are partnering on events like the April 24 Taste of Stadium Village and looking to activate public open spaces to make Stadium Village a fun place to visit.

“The next phase of work is to get people to use the train and take advantage of the opportunities it creates -- to get them to explore parts of the community they haven’t before just because they weren’t as easy to get to,” Ferguson said.

Laura Beeth, the system director of talent acquisition for Fairview Health Services, also sees promise in the Green Line. Fairview has several locations along the light-rail corridor, including outpatient and children’s clinics on University Avenue just east of Stadium Village Station.

Beeth said the new light-rail connection will not only benefit patients and employees but the thousands of students who go through clinical rotations at Fairview sites every year.

Fairview is actively working to attract students who live in the Green Line corridor and works with several schools that are connected by transit service, including the U of M, St. Catherine University, Augsburg College, Saint Paul College and Minneapolis Community & Technical College.

“Not all of these students have cars and this will be a very convenient, affordable, stress-free way to get here,” Beeth said.

The convenience of light-rail is also seen as a major boost for those attending a wedding reception or other event at Profile Event Center, located on University Avenue about halfway between the Green Line’s Stadium Village and Prospect Park stations.

Having an easy way to travel to and from the venue is important for out-of-town guests who don’t want to rent a car and will also make for a fuller, more enjoyable visit, owner Patrick Kellis said.

“A lot of people have relatives or friends coming in from out of town,” Kellis said. “Now they can stay in a hotel downtown and take light-rail right to our facility, as well as the Mall of America, the airport, lots of places. It will be more of a fun weekend experience.”

Duane Rohrbaugh, the general manager at The Commons Hotel, said the prospect of a car-free, hassle-free stay drawing guests to the hotel, a block south of Stadium Village Station.

“In the last three weeks, we’ve booked three groups for the MLB All Star Game and it’s all because of the Green Line,” he said. “They’ll get into town, get on light rail and be able to get right here.”

The Green and Blue light-rail lines will share stations in downtown Minneapolis, including Target Field Station, where the All-Star Game will be held on July 15.

While particularly beneficial during events and gamedays, Rohrbaugh said the light-rail connection will be a year-round asset for guests at the hotel, which opened in late 2012.

“This (the Green Line) is just going to be a major artery for people to get into Stadium Village from either downtown and any place in the Twin Cities really,” he said.

A METRO Green Line test train at Stadium Village Station in Minneapolis. Stadium Village Station At a Glance 

Connecting bus routesRoute 6U, with local service in Edina, Uptown, downtown Minneapolis and the U of M, will be extended further east to 27th Avenue SE to connect with Stadium Village Station and provide local service to Prospect Park. Route 16 will continue to provide local service on the University Avenue corridor but will not continue to downtown Minneapolis; westbound commuters can instead transfer to the Green Line at Stadium Village Station. Several express or limited-stop routes with service to the U of M will also connect with the station, including Route 111, Route 113, Route 114, Route 115, Route 118, Route 252, Route 272, Route 465, Route 652, and Route 579. The U of M’s Campus Connector (Route 121) and East Bank Circulator (Route 123) also connect to Stadium Village Station.

Public art: Artist Roberto Delgado created a collage of historic and current photos from around campus and the Twin Cities, transferring the images to tiles using a silk screen process. The collage includes several photos from the U of M archives and commencement. “I like to superimpose photos so it becomes like a puzzle and you have to get up close to see what’s going on,” he said. Delgado created similar artwork for the Snelling Avenue and Central stations. Learn more

Area landmarks:  TCF Bank Stadium, Williams Arena, Mariucci Arena, McNamara Alumni Center, University Recreation and Wellness Center, Biomedical Discovery District, Stadium Village, Prospect Park

Bike-ped connections: The Dinkytown Greenway, an off-road trail through Dinkytown, runs between the Mississippi River and just north of TCF Bank Stadium. The trail connects with the U of M Transitway, which connects to the U of M’s St. Paul campus and is open only to bicyclists, transit and emergency vehicles. The Washington Avenue Transit/Pedestrian Mall runs between Walnut and Pleasant streets. Bicylsts and pedestrians can cross the Mississippi River on the Washington Avenue Bridge. There is also a trail along East River Parkway, on the west bank of the nearby Mississippi River. The U of M Bike Center is located at 401 SE Oak St, on the west side of the Oak Street Parking Ramp. For more information on biking on campus visit the U of M’s biking website.

Neighborhood groups: Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association, Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association, Prospect Park 2020, Stadium Village Commercial Association

Bus METRO Green Line Minneapolis Route of the Week University of Minnesota

Route 6: A reliable ride from Edina to the Green Line 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, April 04, 2014 12:00:00 AM

A customer boards a Route 6 bus on Xerxes Avenue in Linden Hills.Minneapolis resident Iris Key has spent a lot of time on Route 6.

As a student at the University of Minnesota, Key rode the bus between campus and her Uptown residence. When she got a job near Edina’s Southdale Center, she used Route 6 to commute to and from work. Now, nearly 15 years after she began riding, Key continues to use Route 6 to get to appointments, run errands or go out in downtown Minneapolis.

“The 6 really is my bus,” Key said this week, returning home after visiting the dentist. “I love it because it’s so dependable and reliable. It’s always there when I need it.”

Key isn’t the only person who has come to see Route 6 as a reliable way of getting around. Several Route 6 customers said in recent onboard interviews that the bus is a mainstay of their daily travels, allowing them to save money, avoid parking hassles and limit their own driving.

Traveling northbound, Route 6 buses run from the Bloomington-Edina border near I-494 and France Avenue, stopping at the Southdale Transit Center before making their way past homes, parks and businesses in southwest Minneapolis on Xerxes, France or Wooddale avenues. The France Avenue branch serves 50th & France and another retail nodes at 44th Street; the Xerxes Avenue branch runs though the Linden Hills retail area west of Lake Harriet.

In Uptown, buses stop at the Uptown Transit Center and continue on Hennepin Avenue to downtown Minneapolis and the U of M.

Students, workers and residents use the route as a way to get to work or school, run errands or get to entertainment in Uptown or downtown.

Sarah Koster, who lives in Uptown, uses Route 6 for all of those reasons. During the week, she rides to her job in the Warehouse District; on weekends she rides downtown for events like Timberwolves games. “I have a vehicle, but I rarely if ever use it,” she said.

Erick Briden, who boarded in Linden Hills, uses Route 6 to get to class at Minneapolis Community & Technical College on Hennepin Avenue and to get to jobs in Edina and Hopkins (transferring to Route 12 in Uptown). As a pre-med student, Briden said riding the bus allows him to remain productive while getting where he needs to be.

“I do homework, general research and, when I’m feeling really disciplined, I’ll read,” he said.

While Koster and Briden both occasionally drive, some Route 6 customers say using transit has allowed them to live completely car-free.

Janne Flisrand has never owned a vehicle and has relied on Route 6 since moving to Uptown in 1996. Flisrand takes Route 6 to her shared workspace in downtown Minneapolis and also bikes, uses car-sharing and routes 2, 3, 21, 63 and 94 to get around.

A Route 6 bus passes by streetcar tracks south of Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis.By cutting her transportation costs, Flisrand said she has been able to build her retirement account and invest in her home. Beyond saving money, though, she said taking transit makes her feel more connected to the community.

“Riding the bus reminds me how interesting the cities are and how I don’t get to see that in everyday life,” she said. “I like being reminded of that.”

Route 6 also provides a reminder of how people used to move around the Twin Cities.

The route closely parallels two of the Twin Cities most historic streetcar lines, the Como-Harriet and Oak-Harriet streetcar lines, which operated until 1954. The lines served as commuter routes while providing access to the Chain of Lakes and points further west.

Today, the Minnesota Streetcar Museum maintains a portion of the streetcar track between Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet and invites the public to take trips on a restored streetcar between May and November.

While streetcars have vanished, Route 6 customers will soon have a new way to ride the rails when the METRO Green Line opens June 14. Route 6U’s western end, which now stops west of TCF Bank Stadium, will be stretched further to the east to connect with the Green Line’s Stadium Village Station and Prospect Park. Customers can also transfer to the METRO Blue or Green lines at the Warehouse District/Hennepin Avenue Station.

Heather Klopotek, who rides Route 6 between Uptown and her job at the U of M, said she will use the Green Line to visit friends in St. Paul. Klopotek said she has avoided going to St. Paul in the past because it means having to drive or taking a longer bus trip.

“I see myself spending a lot more time in St. Paul with the train,” she said.

Quinn Sahulka, who lives in downtown Minneapolis and takes Route 6 to class at the U of M, said she too will be more likely to visit St. Paul once Green Line trains are running. Sahulka doesn’t own a vehicle and said the idea of a long bus ride has kept her from visiting museums and other St. Paul locations she’s always been interested in seeing.

“I’m so excited that I’ll finally be able to explore St. Paul without it having to be such a trying experience,” she said.

A Route 6 bus travels on 4th Street SE in Dinkytown.Route 6 At a Glance

Type: Urban local

ServiceRoute 6 serves Edina, southwest Minneapolis, Uptown, downtown Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota. On its south end, Route 6 provides limited service to an industrial area in the northeast corner of the Highway 100 and Interstate 494 interchange. Traveling northbound, Route 6 buses travel along the France Avenue corridor, serving shopping centers and Centennial Lakes Park, a mix of parkland, offices and housing. Buses stop at the Southdale Transit Center before entering Minneapolis and continuing north on branches that serve Woodale, France or Xerxes avenues. All branches converge south of Lake Calhoun and continue north to the Uptown Transit Center and along Hennepin Avenue to downtown Minneapolis. After crossing the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, northbound Route 6 buses travel on University Avenue SE to Oak Street, near the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium. Southbound buses return to downtown Minneapolis on 4th Street SE. Buses run every four to 10 minutes during rush hour, every 10 to 15 minutes midday and every 15 minutes on evenings and weekends. On weekdays, service runs from approximately 4:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Route Length: Approximately 19 miles

Stops: 167 northbound, 167 southbound

Vehicles: 40-foot standard diesel and hybrid buses

Ridership: More than 2.7 million total passenger boardings in 2013 (an increase of more than 47,000 rides compared to 2012) with an average of nearly 7,500 rides per weekday.

History: Electric streetcars ran on the Como-Harriet and Oak-Harriet streetcar lines between 1891 and 1954. The Como-Harriet line ran down France Avenue and the Oak Harriet line ran down Xerxes Avenue. Both continued to downtown Minneapolis, the U of M and St. Paul. At the U of M, streetcars traveled through Dinkytown on 4th Street SE. In Minneapolis, streetcars traveled on Hennepin Avenue to 31st Street, east of Lake Calhoun, before continuing south on private right of way to Lake Harriet. West of Lake Harriet, streetcars diverged into branches that went west to Hopkins or south on France and Xerxes avenues. The Como-Harriet and Oak-Harriet streetcar lines were popular routes for lake-bound residents, but they also were key links for those traveling downtown or to the U of M for work and school. The Como-Harriet line connected with all the major lines in downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul and operated around the clock seven days a week. In 1952, France Avenue was repaved and streetcars were replaced with shuttle buses in Edina. Buses replaced streetcars completely in 1954. These were the last streetcar lines to be replaced with bus service in the Twin Cities. From May through November, restored streetcars make round-trips on a section of the Como-Harriet line between Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet. The Minnesota Streetcar Museum maintains the tracks, streetcars and Linden Hills Station.

Future: Route 6U will be extended east from Oak Street to 27th Avenue SE to provide a connection to the METRO Green Line’s Stadium Village Station. Route 6 customers will also be able to connect with the Green and Blue lines at the Warehouse District/Hennepin Avenue Station.

Bus METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Route of the Week University of Minnesota

Route 2: A catalyst for going car-free 

| Wednesday, January 15, 2014 4:56:00 PM

When Pete Huff moved to the Twin Cities a few months ago, he looked for a location that would allow him to continue living a car-free life. He found it in the Seward neighborhood, where he can readily access the METRO Blue Line and connecting bus routes.

The route he turns to when traveling to and from work every day: Route 2, which runs along Franklin Avenue between Hennepin Avenue and the University of Minnesota and connects with the Blue Line’s Franklin Avenue Station.

“I chose to live where I live because I knew I could pretty much get anywhere in the city – east, west, north or south,” Huff said during a recent westbound trip on Route 2.

The ambition to go without a car was shared among several customers recently interviewed aboard Route 2. Others on the bus said they couldn’t afford to have a vehicle or simply preferred the convenience of using transit to get around.

Bruno Oakman is among those who use Route 2 and believe it to be easier than driving. Oakman works at The Commons Hotel, on Washington Avenue, and takes the bus to avoid traffic and parking costs on the U of M campus.

“I like being able to relax, catch up on e-mail and take some time for myself,” said Oakman, who walks less than a block from his home to catch the bus.

While Oakman was on his way to work, many others on Route 2 were on their way to class at the U of M or Augsburg College. Traveling eastbound from Franklin Avenue, Route 2 buses continue north on Riverside Avenue to the West Bank, cross the Mississippi River on the Washington Avenue Bridge and run through the heart of the East Bank campus on the Washington Avenue Transit Pedestrian Mall. At the far east end, Route 2 travels on 4th Street SE and University Avenue, serving Dinkytown and residents in the Marcy Holmes neighborhood.

U of M student Marie Barland lives in Uptown and has used Route 2 throughout her college career. Instead of owning a car and driving, she has a $97-a-semester U-Pass and gets unlimited bus and METRO rides.

“I’m one of those rare people who never got my license and take Metro Transit everywhere,” said Barland, who uses the money she saves on transportation to travel.

Students and others who use Route 2 will have even more connectivity when the METRO Green Line opens June 14.

On the west end of the Washington Avenue Bridge, Route 2 will connect with the Green Line’s West Bank Station, located on Washington Avenue between 19th and Cedar avenues. On the other side of the bridge, Route 2 customers can get off at Coffman Memorial Union and access the East Bank Station.

The new rail connections will allow customers to travel east through campus towards downtown St. Paul on University Avenue. Green Line trains will travel westbound to Target Field, sharing five Blue Line stations in downtown Minneapolis.

Johanna Gorman-Baer lives near Franklin and Cedar avenues and uses Route 2 to visit friends near the U of M. Gorman-Baer said she is looking forward to the Green Line’s opening so she can explore more parts of St. Paul. She is considering moving nearer to the Green Line so she can have easier access to frequent, all-day transit.

“I’m looking for a new apartment and that’s the number priority – living along some form of major transit line,” Gorman-Baer said.

Shawn Vriezen is also looking forward to the expanded options the Green Line will offer. Vriezen uses Route 2 to get to work on the East Bank, but also bikes and uses car sharing services like Car2Go to visit friends and run errands as a way to avoid car ownership. Green line trains will only open his horizons that much more, Vriezen said.

“I don’t go to St. Paul as much as I used to, but that pretty much opens up all of University and downtown,” he said.

However Route 2 changes as a result of the Green Line, operator C.J. Camp said it’s likely to remain one of his favorites. Camp has driven the route off-and-on over the last 12 years and said he enjoys the mix of customers and destinations he encounters while traveling east and west.

“It’s got a real-cross section of the city," he said. "No matter what time of day, it’s always lively.”

Route 2 At a Glance

Type: Urban Local

Service: Route 2 runs between Hennepin Avenue and the U of M, largely along Franklin Avenue. Traveling east, buses run from Hennepin and Franklin avenues to the METRO Blue Line’s Franklin Avenue Station. The route continues northbound at Riverside Avenue and crosses the Mississippi River on the Washington Avenue Bridge, running through the heart of the U of M’s East Bank campus on the Washington Avenue Transit Pedestrian Mall towards Dinkytown. Route 2’s eastern terminus is located at 6th Street SE and East Hennepin Avenue, which has a high concentration of student housing. Buses run from approximately 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily with service every 5 to 15 minutes during rush hour, every 15 minutes midday and every 20 to 30 minutes on evenings and weekends.

Route Length: Approximately 8 miles

Stops: 48 eastbound, 47 westbound

Vehicles: Standard 40-foot

Ridership: More than 1.67 million customer boardings in 2012, with an average of 4,576 passengers per day. 

History: When Route 2 began in 1971, it crossed the Mississippi River on Franklin Avenue and stopped short of the U of M campus. The route was later moved to Riverside Avenue so that it served Riverside Medical Center, Augsburg College and Washington Avenue, on the U of M campus. The change led to a dramatic increase in ridership. Metro Transit introduced a service connecting student housing on 8th Street SE and later combined it with Route 2 to create the roughly 8-mile route that exists today. Ridership expanded when the U Pass was introduced in 2000 and again in 2004 with the opening of the METRO Blue Line

Future: When the METRO Green Line opens June 14, Route 2 will connect with the West Bank Station and East Bank Station and share right of way with Green Line trains on the Washington Avenue Transit/Pedestrian Mall. Service will continue at its existing level.

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