Robert Connoy has the kind of job that allows him to work from home.
But since the A Line opened just a few blocks from his Mac-Groveland residence, he’s started venturing out to a co-working space in downtown Minneapolis, a commute that involves a quick trip on the rapid bus line and light rail.
“I didn’t used to go out as much, but now it’s become really effortless to get downtown from where I live,” Connoy said as he headed toward home on a recent afternoon commute.
Connoy is among thousands of customers who have come to appreciate the region’s first rapid bus line, which runs between the Rosedale Transit Center and the METRO Blue Line’s 46th Street Station on Snelling Avenue, Ford Parkway and 46th Street.
Almost eight months to the day after opening, the A Line surpassed 1 million total rides on Tuesday, Feb. 14. Average weekday ridership on the A Line corridor, including local Route 84, has increased by about one-third since the new service began.
Customers riding the A Line this week said its biggest perk is faster, more frequent service, which allows them to travel without needing to use a schedule. A Line buses run every 10 minutes most of the day and every 15 minutes in the evenings.
“It just seems like the best thing ever to me to have a bus line going through more often and more predictably,” said Annette Rondano, who uses the A Line to commute between her Minneapolis home and her business, the Great Metropolitan Backrub. “It really takes the stress away from being stuck at work thinking I have to wait an hour to get home.”
Customers also said they liked the A Line’s light-rail like stations, which have off-board ticket vending machines, real-time displays and security features. Even small things, like the stop request buttons that have replaced pull cords on A Line buses, were counted as positives.
The A Line’s most popular boarding location, by far, has been at the corner of Snelling and University avenues, where customers can transfer to and from the Green Line. Around 22 percent of all A Line boardings have occurred at the northbound and southbound stops adjacent to University Avenue.
Ray Doss, a first-year student at Hamline University student, is among those who utilize the connection. Since moving from Washington in September, Doss has regularly used the A Line and light rail to run errands and explore the Twin Cities.
“Immediately when I got here I found it super easy to use,” he said. “As someone who had no experience with Metro Transit, I was really able to just get right into it and experience this new place I’m in. It’s been really phenomenal.”
While Connoy, Rondano and Doss are all within blocks of the A Line, others are going out of their way to use the service.
Jakenthia Simms is one of them. The Roseville High School senior used to travel to and from school on Route 65; now she uses the A Line to enjoy the free WiFi and make quick trips to Rosedale Mall.
“It’s more of a walk, but it’s worth it – and I get a good workout,” she said.