Jeff Odegard estimates it would take a half hour for him to drive from his Golden Valley home to the Gibbs Museum in Falcon Heights, where he works as an historic site interpreter.
Instead, Odegard boards a Route 14 bus to downtown Minneapolis where he transfers to Route 61 and continues east to the museum.
Though it takes a little longer then driving, Odegard uses the extra time to study work material, read or simply relax. He also appreciates saving money on gas and car repairs. Because he rides so frequently, Odegard purchases an unlimited ride 31-Day Pass on his Go-To Card. The pass, $85 a month, covers fares on local buses and the METRO Blue Line and can be used to cover $2.25 of higher fares on rush-hour express buses and the Northstar Commuter Rail line.
“I’ve always had a car but I don’t really enjoy driving,” Odegard said recently while riding Route 14. “Whenever it makes the most sense, I take the bus.”
Odegard is one of thousands of customers who have made Route 14 a fixture of their commute, either. Last year, there were nearly 2 million customer boardings on Route 14, which serves Robbinsdale, Crystal, Golden Valley, Minneapolis and Richfield.
As the bus filled during a recent trip, work-bound customers said they looked to Route 14 largely because it was simply less complicated than driving.
“This is just so much easier,” said Heidi Renchin, who lives in Golden Valley and works downtown. “It picks me up right in front of my house and lets me off right in front of work. There’s a major convenience factor.”
Renchin, who also uses the bus to reach the METRO Blue Line when traveling from the airport, was one of many people traveling downtown. But several seats remained filled as the bus continued south along Franklin, Bloomington and Chicago avenues to Richfield’s Cedar Point Commons, a 30-acre shopping center with more than 350,000 square feet of retail space. Route 14 buses began running south to 66th Street in Richfield in 2008 to better connect residents with jobs.
Annetta Momanyi is one of the workers to benefit from the extension. Momanyi boarded at 54th and Chicago, two blocks from her home, to get to her job at Home Depot.
Momanyi said she has been riding Route 14 every day since her car broke down this summer but that she expects to continue using the bus even after it gets repaired. “This is just so easy,” she said.
Thomas Monroe, of New Hope, traveled to Minneapolis on express Route 764, then used Route 14 to reach Project for Pride in Living’s headquarters on Franklin Avenue. Even including the transfer, he said taking the bus was easier and more relaxing than fighting freeway traffic.
“Now I just look out the window, enjoying the morning and drinking my coffee,” he said.
North of Minneapolis, Route 14 buses connect customers along West Broadway Avenue before traveling west to Golden Valley and north to Robbinsdale, where it stops at North Memorial Medical Center and the Robbinsdale Transit Center, a renovated police and fire station on Hubbard Avenue.
Rick Pearson, community development coordinator for Robbinsdale, said transit like Route 14 will be critical to the future redevelopment in the growing city of more than 14,000 residents. Fully developed, the city believes future growth will come from redevelopment and greater density.
“If this city is going to be denser, transit is going to be a part of that,” he said.
Transit is hardly new to Robbinsdale or the remaining Route 14 corridor, though.
The North Side Street Railway operated a streetcar line to downtown Robbinsdale from 1891 to 1948. A streetcar ran along Broadway Avenue, connecting north and northeast Minneapolis, between 1914 and 1950. Washington, Franklin and Bloomington avenues also saw streetcar service; a 1933 extension of the Bloomington Avenue streetcar line to 54th Avenue among the last streetcar lines to be put in.
Future transit improvements along the Route 14 corridor will be studied beginning in early 2014. Metro Transit, the city of Minneapolis and Hennepin County will look at enhanced bus and streetcar options on West Broadway Avenue.
Planning is also underway for the Bottineau Transitway, which could bring light rail service from downtown Minneapolis to Brooklyn Park, with service to Golden Valley, Crystal and Robbinsdale.
Route 14 At a Glance
Type: Urban Local
Service: Route 14 buses run between downtown Robbinsdale and Richfield’s Cedar Point Commons, just west of the intersection at 66th Street and Cedar Avenue. Branches on the north end of the line run along Douglas Drive, Noble Avenue, Golden Valley Road or Oakdale Avenue to West Broadway Avenue then south to downtown Minneapolis via Washington Avenue. South of Minneapolis, buses run along Franklin, Bloomington and Chicago avenues, with another branch that runs to Roosevelt High School and the METRO Blue Line’s 38th Street Station. Buses run between 4:30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m., with service every 10 to 20 minutes during rush hour and every 15 to 20 minutes midday. Evening and weekend service is approximately every half hour. Destinations along the corridor include North Memorial Medical Center, the Courage Center, Nicollet Mall, Roosevelt High School, Lake Nokomis and Cedar Point Commons.
Route length: Approximately 15 miles
Stops: 196 northbound, 191 southbound
Vehicles: 40-foot standard buses
Ridership: Nearly 2 million customer boardings in 2012, with an average of almost 5,307 passengers per day.
History: Streetcars ran on several sections of the existing Route 14 corridor, including Washington, Franklin and Bloomington avenues. A 1933 extension of the Bloomington Avenue streetcar line to 54th Avenue was among the last new streetcar lines to be put in. North of downtown Minneapolis, a streetcar along Broadway Avenue connected north and northeast Minneapolis between 1914 and 1950. The streetcar line was extended west to Upton Avenue on Golden Valley Road in 1923. The North Side Street Railway operated a streetcar line to downtown Robbinsdale beginning in 1891. Electric streetcars were manufactured for Minneapolis and St. Paul in Robbinsdale until 1892.
Future: Metro Transit, the city of Minneapolis and Hennepin County are partnering on a study to begin in early 2014 that will look at enhanced bus and streetcar options on West Broadway Avenue. The proposed Bottineau Transitway would also serve Golden Valley, Crystal and Robbinsdale.