Representatives from the Metropolitan Council, Metro Transit, Hennepin County, City of Minneapolis and City of Brooklyn Center grabbed their shovels Tuesday morning to break ground on the region's second rapid bus line, the C Line.
The C Line will substantially replace Route 19, running from Brooklyn Center into Minneapolis, primarily on Penn Avenue and Olson Memorial Highway. C Line service is scheduled to begin in 2019.
The C Line is the region's second rapid bus line, and there are plans to expand such service to at least ten more corridors in the future. A completed rapid bus network would connect 200,000 people a day to almost half a million jobs across the region. Gov. Mark Dayton has included $50 million in his bonding proposal for future rapid bus lines and Bus Rapid Transit service, which operates on highways.
“The C Line will improve transportation choices, reduce congestion and connect hundreds of thousands of people with jobs,” said Gov. Dayton. “We must continue to develop a comprehensive transit system that will allow the Twin Cities metropolitan area and state of Minnesota to grow and compete. Projects like the C Line are essential to the long-term vitality of our communities.”
Currently, there are more than 7,000 rides on the Route 19 each weekday. Ridership is expected to grow to 9,000 rides a day by 2030.
“We know that our region will add 700,000 more people between now and 2040 – that’s nearly the entire state of North Dakota moving to the seven-county metro,” said Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff. “With it, they’ll bring an 80% increase in transit demand. The C Line is the next step toward building out a regional transit system that will help us compete with peer regions all across the country.”
Chair Tchourumoff was joined at the groundbreaking at the corner of Penn and Lowry in North Minneapolis by Met Council Member Gary Cunningham, Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, Minneapolis Council Members Phillipe Cunningham and Jeremiah Ellison, Brooklyn Center Mayor Tim Willson, and KMOJ radio emcee Freddie Bell, in addition to business and community members.
The region’s first rapid bus line, the A Line, operates along Snelling Avenue, Ford Parkway and 46th Street. Since opening in 2016, ridership in the A Line corridor has increased by more than a third.
C Line buses are expected to perform up to 25 percent faster than today’s local service. Service will be sped up by allowing customers to purchase fares before they board, spreading stops further apart and using roomier, 60-foot buses with front and rear entrances. In a first for the region, most of the buses used on the C Line will be fully-electric, running on rechargeable batteries and producing no tailpipe emissions.
Service along the line will also be made more efficient through technology that lets buses request green lights and by placing new stations on the far-side of intersections, allowing buses to get through lights before stopping. Trips will run every 10 minutes throughout the day, giving customers confidence the next bus is never far away.
The C Line will also provide a safer, more comfortable waiting experience for riders. Well-lit stations will have real-time signs, security cameras and heaters, among other amenities.
The C Line is part of the Penn Avenue Improvements Project partnership with Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis. The partnership is meant to make meaningful infrastructure improvements and enhance transportation and transit service and safety throughout Penn Avenue and Olson Memorial Highway into downtown Minneapolis. It will include reconstruction of portions of Penn Avenue, to coincide with C Line construction.
Members of the local community can learn about the impact to the neighborhood at a Construction Kick-off event beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22, at 2001 Plymouth Avenue.