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Posts in Category: A Line BRT

A Line BRT St. Paul

Time lapse: A Line shelter installation 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, January 08, 2016 2:03:00 PM

The latest sign of progress on what will become the region’s first arterial Bus Rapid Transit Line, the A Line, arrived this week near the corner of Snelling and University avenues.

The shelter installed Wednesday on the northbound side of Snelling Avenue is the largest of the BRT shelter types that will be used at 20 station locations along the A Line, which will provide faster, more frequent service between the Rosedale Transit Center and the METRO Blue Line’s 46th Street Station when it opens this year. About 700 people board or get off a bus at this location today. 

Each BRT shelter will include on-demand heat, emergency phones, schedules and route maps. Off-board ticket vending machines and pylons featuring predicted real-time departure information will also be installed at each stop in the coming months. 

Heavy station platform construction is nearly complete at all stops and around 20 shelters have now been installed. Shelters will not be available for use by customers until the A Line opens to ensure the safety of customers and to prevent damage to shelters prior to A Line launch. In most cases, the stations will be served both by the A Line and regular route buses.

BRT buses also began arriving in December. Like the stations, the vehicles are distinct from regular route service, with unique branding and features that will make service more efficient. 

A Line BRT Bus

A Line buses start rolling in 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, December 10, 2015 1:49:00 PM

The first of 12 BRT buses that will be used on the A Line, #8000, was delivered on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015.Buses that will be used on the region’s first arterial Bus Rapid Transit line are beginning to arrive.

The first of 12 BRT buses that will be used on the A Line, #8000, was delivered on Friday, Nov. 27. The remainder of the fleet is scheduled to arrive by mid-January and the buses will go into service when the A Line opens next year.

The BRT buses have several similarities with other 40-foot Gillig buses already in service, but include several features that will make boarding more efficient. 

A wider rear door allows customers two points of entry and exit and there are no fareboxes, since customers will pay prior to boarding and buses also have more space for mobility devices and standing customers.

BRT buses are distinguished from regular route buses by their unique exterior coloring, brighter digital displays and rounded edges. 

In addition to the buses, Revenue Operations has begun receiving ticket-vending machines that will be used at A Line stations along Snelling Avenue, Ford Parkway and 46th Street. The ticket machines will be installed along with other station features like real-time signs beginning next year.

Heavy station platform construction is nearly complete at the A Line's 20 stations. 

The A Line will supplement Route 84 service, providing faster and more frequent service for customers traveling longer distances.

There are 11 arterial BRT lines planned for the region, including the C Line which is scheduled to be under construction on Penn Avenue in 2017.

Future arterial BRT lines and the METRO Orange Line that will bring BRT to Interstate 35W are expected to have 60-foot buses with three doors for customers to board and exit.​

    > Learn more about the A Line and subscribe to project updates

    > View more photos on Flickr

    > Star Tribune: Tech for local bus overhaul rolls into Metro Transit

First A Line Bus Rapid Transit bus has arrived

A Line BRT METRO Green Line St. Paul Station Spotlight

Shows, support and supplies await at Snelling Station 

| Monday, January 27, 2014 3:21:00 PM

Jim Segal is rethinking the type of bags he provides customers at his University Avenue store, Ax-Man Surplus.

That’s because he thinks more than a few of them will be boarding the METRO Green Line after shopping at the store, located less than a block from the Snelling Avenue Station.

“We’ll probably have to get bags with handles to make it easier for people to carry their stuff on the train,” said Segal, whose store deals in everything from bowling pins to snail magnets.

Segal doesn’t mind making a few tweaks at his business, though. In fact, he’s looking forward to the Green Line’s opening as much as anyone along the 11-mile corridor.

“The thing I’m most interested in seeing is new folks coming up and down the avenue,” he said. “We’re going to have exposure to a whole new audience.”

Segal isn’t alone in his anticipation.

Jeri Quest, the co-founder and CEO of Dress for Success Twin Cities, said she expects light rail to greatly improve the non-profit’s ability to help women entering the workforce. The organization, which provides professional attire and career counseling, is located just north of the Snelling Avenue Station on University Avenue.

“We’re thrilled that this station is opening literally across the street from our office,” Quest said. “Our clients really rely on public transportation so we can’t wait for it to open.”

Quest estimated that more than half of the 700 economically disadvantaged women Dress for Success Twin Cities worked with last year used public transportation. Employees and volunteers are also expected to use the train, she said.

Just up the street, Danya Frank said the Snelling station will be a huge asset for concertgoers at the Turf Club. Frank is the executive vice president at First Avenue, which purchased the Turf Club in 2013.

“We’re really excited about what light rail is going to mean for the Midway as a whole and the Turf Club specifically,” Frank said. “A lot more people will have access to come see shows, which gives us a much bigger audience.”

Frank said the train will also be an asset for employees traveling back-and-forth between St. Paul and Minneapolis since many of the venues’ employees don’t have vehicles.

“Having the train makes transportation between the clubs not even easier, but really possible,” she said.

Kari Canfield, the executive director of the Midway Chamber of Commerce, said her group is also looking forward to traveling the corridor on light rail. The Chamber’s offices are in Spruce Tree Centre, at University and Snelling, so visits up-and-down University Avenue will start and end at Snelling Avenue Station.

“Instead of jumping in the car to visit them, we’ll just be getting on the train,” Canfield said. “It’s a great connector and will make our jobs a lot easier.”

Public art at the METRO Green Line's Snelling Avenue Station.Snelling Avenue Station At a Glance

Connecting bus routes: Route 16 buses will continue to serve University Avenue between downtown St. Paul and TCF Bank Stadium. Route 21, which runs between Uptown and downtown St. Paul, travels on University Avenue between Snelling and Hamline avenues. Route 84 travels through the intersection of University and Snelling avenues as it runs between the METRO Blue Line’s 46th Street Station and Rosedale (this is a particularly popular route for those attending the Minnesota State Fair). The A Line (Snelling Avenue BRT) will also open in 2015, bringing high-frequency, limited-stop service to Snelling Avenue between 46th Street Station and Rosedale.

Public art: Artist Roberto Delgado assembled historic and current photos from around the Twin Cities, using a silk screen process to transfer them to tiles. The murals and columns included hundreds of faces, including some of present-day bus riders Delgado photographed. Delgado said the resulting art is “pretty abstract” but is intended to invite the curiosity of those traveling to or from the station. “If you look hard enough you’ll find something,” he said. “And if you find something that’s a pretty good trip, artistically.” Delgado also designed artwork for the Stadium Village and Central stations. Learn more

Area landmarks: Midway Shopping Center, Hamline-Midway Library, Hamline Elementary, Hamline University, Hancock Recreation Center, LEAP High School, Hamline Park, Aldine Park, Dickerman Park

Bike-ped connections: Charles Avenue bike boulevard (construction to be complete in summer 2014); bike lanes on Pascal Street North between I-94 and University Avenue; pedestrian bridge crossing I-94 between Aldine Street and Concordia Avenue; bike lanes on Marshall Avenue west of Snelling Avenue; bike lanes on Minnehaha Avenue west of Hamline Avenue. 

Neighborhood groups: Hamline-Midway, Union Park

A Line BRT Bus METRO Blue Line Route of the Week St. Paul

Route 74: Easy riding from East to West 

| Friday, October 11, 2013 2:15:00 PM

After working 10-hour, overnight shifts at St. Joseph’s Hospital, the last thing Donna Cooley wants to do is get in her car and deal with traffic. So she takes the Route 74 bus instead.

“It’s just so much easier to let someone else do the driving and ride home after working all night,” Cooley said as she rode from downtown St. Paul to her home on the city’s east side.

Cooley, a nursing assistant, was one of the few homeward bound passengers on a recent early-morning Route 74 trip. But she was far from the only commuter on board.

Traveling east from the METRO Blue Line’s 46th Street Station, Route 74 filled with office-bound customers as it traveled through Highland Park, down Randolph Avenue and up West 7th Street towards downtown St. Paul. After emptying out some 16 miles later at Sun Ray Transit Center, the pattern occurred in reverse as the bus returned from northeast St. Paul along East 7th Street, passing Metro State University, residences and small businesses.

Chris Kimber, of Minneapolis, was among those who boarded at 46th Street shortly after 7 a.m. A south Minneapolis resident, Kimber said she rides her bike seven blocks to 46th Street Station where she catches Route 74. On nice days, she skips the bus ride home and bikes.

“It’s the perfect combination because I get some extra reading time on the way in and some fresh air on the way home,” said Kimber, who also counted the environmental benefits as a key motivation for her use of the bus.

Kimber isn’t the only Route 74 customer with a multimodal commute, either.

Wendi Ward lives above her store, Practical Goods at Snelling and Randolph avenues, and has been without a car for the last decade. In addition to using Route 74, she utilizes HOURCAR’s located at 46th Street Station and nearby Macalaster College.

“I’ve saved a lot of money but there are lots of other benefits,” Ward said as she traveled to a rummage sale. “I live along a snow emergency route and I’ve never once had to shovel my car out of the snow.”

Such advantages are proving an attractive draw along the Route 74 corridor, much of which was once served by streetcars. Nearly 1.6 million customers boarded Route 74 buses last year, up slightly from 2011.

With ridership expected to continue growing, plans are in the works to bring improved transit service to at least two areas now served by Route 74.

The planned A Line would bring Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) amenities to Ford Parkway from 46th Street Station to Snelling Avenue, where it would continue north to Rosedale Center. The proposed B Line would bring BRT to West 7th Street and an extension of the system to East 7th Street is also under consideration.

The BRT corridors would see improved frequency and time-saving technologies like pre-paid fares, traffic signal priority and dual-entrance buses.

Created through a route consolidation in 2001, Route 74 would continue to provide local service even if BRT were implemented. The limited-stop Route 54 that travels along West 7th Street to the airport would be replaced by the B Line, however.

In addition to improving service, the enhancements could support growth in Highland Park, where the Ford Plant is being demolished in anticipation of new mixed-use development, and along West 7th Street, where the old Schmidt Brewery is being revived as artist housing. On St. Paul’s east side, the St. Paul Port Authority is leading the creation of a new business campus at the 61-acre Beacon Bluff area, previously occupied by 3M.

Route 74 customer Kate Severin said she’s interested in the BRT idea but has no qualms about spending a little extra time on the bus. Retired, she has been without a car for nearly two decades simply enjoys the ride.

“I’m a single old lady – I don’t have to be anywhere at any particular time,” she said.

Route 74 At a Glance

Type: Urban Local

ServiceRoute 74 buses travel between the METRO Blue Line’s 46th Street Station and St. Paul’s east side, largely along Randolph Avenue, West 7th and East 7th streets. From the west, buses cross the Mississippi River on Ford Parkway and travel through Highland Village past St. Catherine’s University to West 7th Street and downtown St. Paul. Buses then traverse East 7th Street to St. Paul’s East Side, passing Metro State University, homes and businesses. The longest branches include the 74G, with service to the residential area around Beaver Lake. Routes 74S and 74C go approximately 16 miles end-to-end with service to Sun Ray Transit Center in Maplewood. Buses operate between 4 a.m. and 1 a.m. with service every 15 minutes during rush hour and every 20 minutes midday. Reduced fares are offered in St. Paul's Downtown Zone.

Route length: 15-16 miles

Stops: 128 eastbound, 130 westbound

Vehicles: 40-foot standard

Ridership: Nearly 1.6 million customer boardings in 2012, with an average of more than 4,270 passengers per day.

History: A streetcar line was built in phases along Randolph Avenue to the old Fort Plant between 1890 and 1924. Buses replaced streetcars in 1952. A cable car line, later replaced with an electric streetcar, also ran along East 7th Street until 1952. Route 74 was created in 2001 following a route consolidation.

Future: Bus Rapid Transit is planned for segments of the Route 74 corridor. The A Line, scheduled to open in late 2015, would bring BRT between the METRO Blue Line’s 46th Street Station and Snelling Avenue, where it would continue north to Rosedale Center. The planned B Line, scheduled to open in late 2016, would bring BRT to West 7th Street between the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and downtown St. Paul. The B Line could be extended along East 7th Street as far east as Maplewood Mall, though limited-stop service may come as an interim improvement. Route 74 would continue to provide local service, augmenting the more frequent but limited-stop BRT systems. Route 54, the existing limited-stop service, would be eliminated in favor of BRT.

A Line BRT Bus Bus Rapid Transit METRO Blue Line Minneapolis Route of the Week St. Paul

Route 84: Schools and shopping on Snelling Avenue 

| Friday, July 12, 2013 1:42:00 PM

Dellia Ihinger’s commute from Minneapolis to the Avalon School near University Avenue in St. Paul typically involves boarding a Route 16 or Route 50 bus. Next year, as she embarks on her senior year of high school, Ihinger hopes to add another leg to her trip, using Route 84 to reach Hamline University where she can take classes and earn early college credit.

Ihinger was recently aboard a Route 84 bus on her way to an interview at Hamline, among a handful of schools that line Snelling Avenue – the main thoroughfare on the north-south route.

“I’ve ridden the bus since I was little and now I’ll just take it a little further,” said Ihinger, who recently obtained a driver’s permit but doesn’t want to deal with parking or the expenses of a car.

Ihinger is part of a growing Route 84 customer base that is driving transit enhancements and planning along the corridor, which extends nearly 10 miles from the METRO Blue Line’s 46th Street Station to the Rosedale Transit Center in Roseville largely along Ford Parkway and Snelling Avenue. The 84D also runs south on St. Paul Avenue to West 7th Street.

To better connect with the METRO Green Line, opening in mid-2014, Route 84 trips will run every 10 minutes, all day long. Buses now run every 15 minutes. The schedule will also be adjusted so customers can board the Green Line at University and Snelling avenues with short wait times.

Planning is also underway to build the region’s first Arterial Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line on the Route 84 corridor.  

BRT plans call for light-rail-like features such as enhanced station areas, real-time transit information, pre-paid fare technology and vehicles with rear boarding areas. Buses would continue to run every ten minutes but end-to-end trips would take 27 percent less time as buses benefit from traffic advantages and speedier boardings. Route 84 buses would run every half hour and make more stops, providing customers local service.  

In 2012, Route 84 drew 1.3 million customers, with an average of nearly 4,000 daily weekday boardings. With BRT features, planners expect there could be an average of 8,700 daily customers in 2030.

The coming improvements would serve as just the latest evolution for transit on Snelling Avenue.

A streetcar line operated on the corridor between 1905 and 1952, providing all-day service every 10 minutes during peak periods. At its longest, the streetcar traveled from Highland Parkway to Hamline and Hoyt avenues, with extra service to the nearby Minnesota State Fairgrounds during the fair.

In the early 1970s, the route was extended to Roseville’s Rosedale Center. In 2001, it was straightened north of Como Avenue to follow Snelling Avenue directly to Rosedale, where a transit center has been built in the northeast corner of the mall, near the entrance to the AMC Rosedale 14.

Route 84 served Mall of America and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport until the METRO Blue Line opened in 2004. Customers traveling to those destinations now transfer to the Blue Line at the 46th Street Station, a bustling, multi-modal transit hub adjacent to a new mixed-use residential and commercial development: Oaks Station Place.

Route 84 has several landmarks of its own, though. The corridor passes Minnehaha Park and provides service to a number of schools, including Highland Park High School, Macalester College and Hamline University. The University of Minnesota’s St. Paul Campus and St. Catherine's University are a short distance to the west of Snelling Avenue.  

Several shopping destinations also line the route, including Har Mar Mall, Midway Shopping Center, Grand Avenue, Sibley Plaza and Highland Park.

Greg Stout, a 15-year Route 84 customer, lives in downtown St. Paul but said he frequently uses Route 84 to shop and get his hair cut in Highland Park. Stout said he enjoys Highland Park’s comparative calmness and the scenery he passes while on the bus.

John Dillery, a senior planner at Metro Transit, said the evolution of transit on Snelling Avenue reflects a strong and growing rider base that will continue to expand with the opening of the Green Line and the coming BRT improvements.

“It’s a really positive story of growth, taking the bus and sending it where people want to go, and doing it well,” he said.

Route 84 At a Glance

Type: Urban Local

Service: Route 84 is part of Metro Transit's Hi-Frequency Network, with service at least every 15 minutes during peak periods. Buses travel between Rosedale Transit Center at Rosedale Center in Roseville and the METRO Blue Line’s 46th Street Station in Minneapolis. The route travels largely along Snelling Avenue, passing the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul Campus, Minnesota State Fairgrounds, Hamline University, University Avenue, where a new METRO Green Line station will open in 2014, and Macalester College. On the south end, Route 84 travels east-west, crossing the Mississippi River on Ford Parkway. A second branch goes south via St. Paul Avenue to West 7th Street at Sibley Plaza.

Route length: 10 miles

Stops: 83 northbound, 79 southbound

Vehicles: 40-foot standard buses

Ridership: Nearly 1.3 million customers boarded Route 84 buses in 2012, with nearly 4,000 weekday boardings. By 2030, estimates project around 8,700 daily customers on the corridor.

History: A streetcar operated on Snelling Avenue between 1905 and 1952, when it was replaced with bus service. Buses began traveling to Roseville with the opening of Rosedale Center in the early 1970s. Buses ran as far south as the Mall of America until the METRO Blue Line opened in 2004; MOA-bound customers now transfer to the Blue Line at the 46th Street Station.

Future: Snelling Avenue has been identified as a top Arterial Bus Rapid Transit Corridor, where enhanced station areas, new vehicles and expanded service would combine to speed travel times and improve the customer experience.

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