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Rider's Almanac Blog

Route of the Week

Better service, quirky destinations grow Route 32 ridership

Posted by Drew Kerr | Monday, April 1, 2019 9:39:00 AM

A Metro Transit Route 32 bus at the Robbinsdale Transit Center in Robbinsdale, Minn.Ask people why they ride Route 32, and you’ll likely hear something about how convenient it is.

Route 32 runs largely along Lowry Avenue between the Robbinsdale Transit Center and the  Rosedale Transit Center, serving several key destinations and quirky businesses.

The route has become particularly popular as service has improved over the past few years. In 2012, the Lowry Avenue Bridge re-opened, bringing a four-year detour of Route 32 to an end. Weekend and weekday evening service has also been expanded.

The service improvements have considerably boosted Route 32 ridership. Nearly a half-million rides were taking on Route 32 last year, more than twice the amount taken in 2012. 

“I think Route 32 service is starting to meet the market demand that has been there this whole time,” Senior Planner Michael Mechtenberg said.

To build on this success, federal funding will be used to further improve Route 32 service. Instead of every half hour, trips will operate every 20 minutes, every day.

Popular destinations served by Route 32 include downtown Robbinsdale, North Memorial Health Hospital, the Hennepin County North Regional Library and Rosedale Center.

Along the way, customers can enjoy views of Victory Memorial Drive, the Mississippi River and the Minneapolis skyline, a century-old cemetery and even a Ferris wheel that comes alive with pink neon at night.

There are also a host of small businesses with quirky names and a cool retro feel, including Market Bar-B-Que, with its neon-lit sign of a waving pig in a chef’s toque, Broken Heart Tattoo Club and Good Carma, a foreign auto repair shop that sits next to Carma Coffee, which is decorated with auto parts.

Leslie Davis, an environmental activist who doesn’t own a vehicle, is a longtime rider who commutes on Route 32. "It’s a crazy street sometimes in rush hours,” Davis said of Lowry Avenue. “I’ve never had any problems on this route. This bus is very good.”

Fridley resident Carol Owens, who boards at Lowry and Central avenues, also sees Route 32 as a reliable way to get to and from her job at Wells Fargo in Roseville. “I’ve been taking it forever,” she said on a recent afternoon.

Route 32 at a glance

Service: Urban Local

Route length: 10 miles

Bus stops: 130, eastbound and westbound

Key destinations: Downtown Robbinsdale, North Memorial Health Hospital, Hennepin County North Regional Library and Rosedale Center. Route 32 also crosses Victory Memorial Drive, lined with trees and monuments honoring Hennepin County servicemen and servicewomen who died in World War I, and provides a view of the Mississippi River and downtown Minneapolis from the Lowry Avenue Bridge.

In Northeast Minneapolis, Route 32 provides access to several local businesses, including Betty Danger’s Country Club, billed as a “country club for the 99 percent,” Stanley’s Northeast Bar Room, with its upstairs speakeasy Al’s Place reachable from the University Avenue side by an unmarked door.

Farther east, the route passes Windom Park, Gross National Golf Club and the nearly century-old Sunset Cemetery. In Roseville, Route 32 traverses a light industrial area to reach the Rosedale Transit Center on the east side of Rosedale Center. There, passengers can catch the A Line and several other connecting bus routes. 

Have a favorite bus route that you think more people should know about? Tell us what makes it great and we'll consider including it in our "Route of the Week" series. Send your thoughts to [email protected]