Nathan Ondricek lives in Lakeville and works in downtown Minneapolis. But for the last two years he’s managed to avoid getting behind the wheel and enduring the stream of traffic on Interstate 35W.
Instead, Ondricek leaves his car at the Kenrick Avenue Park & Ride, located just east of I-35 in Lakeville, and boards Metro Transit’s Express Route 467. In just a half hour, he’s getting off the bus at 2nd Avenue South and 8th Street South and is on his way to work.
Sitting near the back of the comfy coach bus, he fills his 21-mile commute time napping or using his smart phone. The leisurely trip in has allayed any fears Ondricek had about being isolated in the city without his car, an SUV he knows would put a strain on his wallet were he to drive in every day.
“I was skeptical about losing the control aspect, worried I couldn’t leave whenever I wanted, but the buses run so frequently I really haven’t had to worry about it,” he said.
Ondricek isn’t the only one finding value in Route 467’s easy commute, aided by the bus's direct interstate access and ability to use dedicated lanes that allow them to bypass general traffic congestion.
Nearly 224,000 people boarded Route 467 last year, up 21 percent from 2011 and 74 percent from 2010, the first full year of express bus service at the 750-space Kenrick Avenue Park & Ride. The $8.7 million Park & Ride was built in 2009 with the help of federal funding directed at addressing congestion on I-35.
The spike in ridership puts Route 467 among Metro Transit’s fastest-growing express services. Among all 53 Metro Transit express routes, there were 9.46 million boardings in 2012, a nearly 10 percent increase from five years ago.
Service at the Kenrick Avenue has expanded from six inbound and six outbound trips to and from Minneapolis to 13 inbound and 13 outbound trips to accommodate the growing demand. Customers can now begin boarding at the Kenrick Avenue Park & Ride at 5:53 a.m.; the three earliest trips drop off customers at I-35W and Lake Street (on demand only) and the 10 following trips go directly to downtown Minneapolis, dropping customers off at different sites on 2nd Avenue South. Beginning just after 3 p.m., commuters have 13 scheduled departures to pick from.
The downtown waiting areas on 2nd Avenue South offer NexTrip real-time departure information and were added as part of the federally-funded Marq2 project. The work also led to bus-only lanes on 2nd Avenue South and Marquette Avenue, allowing for faster transit service downtown. Route 467 is part of Metro Transit’s Pay Exit network that speeds bus departures from the downtown core by requiring customers to pay their fare when they reach their destination.
The growth on Route 467 is part of the conversation behind the planned METRO Orange Line, a Bus Rapid Transit service that could offer all-day, station-to-station trips to downtown Minneapolis on I-35W. The service would be modeled after the METRO Red Line between Bloomington and Apple Valley.
Along with stops in Minneapolis, Bloomington, Richfield and Burnsville, planners are studying whether there is enough demand to extend Bus Rapid Transit south to the Kenrick Avenue Park & Ride. Transit planners predict the METRO Orange Line could draw up to 3.4 million annual riders by 2030, complementing continued express bus service.
The Orange Line would also benefit express bus service by adding MnPASS lanes on southbound I-35W between downtown Minneapolis and East 42nd Street and providing updated stations and technology along the corridor. A new station in the middle of I-35W at Lake Street is also planned that would allow Route 467 and other express buses to better serve the Midtown area.
Route 467 At a Glance
Service: 13 trips to downtown leave Kenrick Avenue Park & Ride between 5:53 a.m. and 8:12 a.m.; 13 trips leave downtown Minneapolis between 3:14 p.m. and 5:54 p.m. The earliest three inbound buses stop at I-35W and Lake Street; in the afternoon, buses stop at Lake Street on-demand.
Vehicles: Coach buses
Ridership: 223,694 total customer boardings in 2012, with an average of 840 weekday riders. Ridership has grown 74 percent since 2010, the first full year of express bus service at the Kenrick Avenue Park & Ride.
History: Service began in 2009 with the opening of Kenrick Avenue Park & Ride, which sits immediately east of I-35. Funding came largely from a federal grant. The Counties Transit Improvement Board is an ongoing funding partner.
Future: The METRO Orange Line could bring all-day, frequent bus to I-35W and I-35, potentially as far south as the Kenrick Avenue Park & Ride.