The METRO C Line had been open less than four hours when Brandon Martin found himself boarding at one of the Bus Rapid Transit line’s new stations for the second time that day.
“I don’t know what magic you’re using, but the bus seems to just breeze right through,” Martin said after getting on at the Penn & Plymouth Avenue Station.
Martin, who lives near Penn Avenue, was among thousands of people who turned out on Saturday, June 8, to experience the C Line on its first day of service.
Metro Transit’s second BRT line, the C Line significantly improves service in the Penn Avenue corridor, with trips running every 10- to 15-minutes most of the day, larger shelters with ticket machines and other features, and the region’s first electric buses.
Service is sped up by allowing customers to board through any of three doors, moving fare payments off the bus and technology that allows buses to request green lights. The C Line also has fewer stops than local bus service it largely replaces, Route 19.
Before the first C Line buses began running on Saturday morning, supporters gathered for a celebratory ribbon-cutting at Penn and Lowry avenues, where two of the C Line’ s 37 boarding areas is located.
Among them was Gov. Tim Walz, who described BRT and electric buses as the future of transportation in the Twin Cities region. “Look at the future – clean efficient transportation where communities are at the heart of why we do it,” Walz said, standing in front of one of the C Line’s eight electric buses.
After the ceremony, Walz and others traveled north on the C Line to the Brooklyn Center Transit Center, where charging stations will help keep electric buses running throughout the day.
Speedy service and the absence of tailpipe emissions were just a few the features customers were drawn to as they rode the C Line for the first time.
Customers also commented on the spacious buses, less crowded thanks to more frequent service, the addition of USB charging ports and the unique names given to each C Line bus, submitted by students and neighborhood groups.
“These buses are so nice that I might just have to find a reason to ride even when I don’t need to,” said Roderick Gayden, a North Minneapolis resident.
Saturday’s opening was also celebratory for Metro Transit employees who spent years planning and preparing for the start of service.
Among them was BRT Manager Katie Roth, who has been involved in C Line planning for the past seven years.
"My favorite part of Saturday’s celebration was riding the new bus with customers and hearing how excited they were that Metro Transit had brought something 'just like the A Line' to Penn Avenue," Roth said. "That’s why we do this."
Heywood Instructor Henry Bridges, who helped bus operators learn about the new electric buses, also had a rewarding day. After taking the helm of the inaugural C Line bus, a local boy insisted on meeting and getting a photo with him.
"It's moments like that, which make me love my job even more," Bridges said.
Learn more about the METRO C Line
Know Your Operator: Henry Bridges
Coverage of the METRO C Line’s opening