Kathryn Moret’s outgoing personality has earned her a nickname with fellow Route 62 customers: the Cruise Director.
Inspired by the television show The Love Boat, the name came after Moret began organizing monthly get-togethers with some of the other passengers she rides into work with each day. This week, Moret was on Route 62 traveling southbound from Little Canada to downtown St. Paul, laughing and joking with some of the passengers she’s come to regard as friends.
“I don’t know how it started, but this a very unique bus where everyone is just very friendly,” said Moret, who has been using Route 62 since 1999.
Moret’s enthusiasm for the shared ride was echoed by several customers recently interviewed during their morning commutes on Route 62, which runs along Rice Street from the Shoreview Community Center to downtown St. Paul. Besides the camaraderie, customers said they rode the bus to avoid the high price of parking downtown or because it was simply more convenient than driving.
Another theme: an aversion to freeway traffic.
“I’ve seen some crazy accidents, which make me pretty nervous,” said Lorie Dukat, who has used Route 62 for the last two years to avoid commuting into St. Paul on Interstate 35E.
Remesha Williams can relate. Williams grew up in a small town and is admittedly anxious about driving in a larger city. Instead of driving all the way into work downtown, she takes a three-minute drive to the Highway 36 and Rice Street Park & Ride, hops on Route 62 and spends the rest of her trip reading.
“My first day after moving here I got into an accident so I thought, ‘You know, I’ll just take the bus instead,’” Williams said. “Now I love not having to worry about the stress of traffic – I leave it all to the driver.”
Curt Kohen, of Arden Hills, also parks his vehicle at the Highway 36 and Rice Street Park & Ride and uses Route 62 to get to work. After going through two vehicle accidents, Kohen turned to transit more than a decade ago and now spends his half-hour trips to and from the office listening to music or simply relaxing.
“It’s kind of a nice way to ease into the day and ease out of the day,” he said.
While many on Route 62 did not intend to transfer once they reached downtown, the route will provide new connections when the METRO Green Line opens on June 14. Route 62 buses will connect with the Green Line’s Rice Street/Capitol Station, 10th Street Station and Central Station in downtown St. Paul.
Route 62 will also be extended into West St. Paul, replacing service previously provided by Route 67, when the Green Line opens. The route will run along Smith Avenue to the Signal Hills shopping center. Buses will continue to run approximately every 30 minutes Monday through Saturday and with greater frequency on Sundays.
John Munn, who uses Route 62 to travel to class at St. Paul College, said he appreciates the level of service on Rice Street. A Little Canada resident, Munn is able to catch the bus right outside his door and get to school in 20 minutes – half the time he thinks it would take to drive, park and then walk.
A psychology student, Munn said the short trips give him something else driving alone can’t provide: a unique opportunity to observe.
“I’m really interested in the people on the bus,” he said. “I listen to music, read, do homework – but I also like to just sit back and spectate.”
Route 62 At a Glance
Type: Urban Local
Service: Route 62 buses run between the Shoreview Community Center, a designated Park & Ride, and downtown St. Paul. Buses run primarily along Rice Street through Vandais Heights, Little Canada and Roseville, entering St. Paul by traveling west of the State Capitol on Rice and 12th streets. In Little Canada, Route 62 serves the Little Canada Transit Center and the Highway 36 and Rice Street Park & Ride, which includes 280 surface parking lot spaces. Buses run from approximately 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week. Evening trips run only as far north as the Highway 36 Park and Rice Street Park & Ride. Buses generally run every half hour throughout the service day.
Route Length: Approximately 12 miles
Stops: 84 southbound; 83 northbound
Vehicles: 40-foot standard buses
Ridership: Nearly 306,000 customer boardings in 2013, with an average of 838 passengers per day.
History: Rice Street service began in 1888, when horse-drawn streetcars operated between downtown and Maryland Avenue. Electric streetcars replaced this service in 1891 and operated on Rice Street between downtown and Ivy Avenue (between Maryland and Arlington avenues) until 1952. Streetcars ran approximately every 10 minutes throughout the day. The line served businesses along Rice Street as well as the State Capitol and surrounding state buildings. Until 1914, the Rice Street streetcar line paired with lines traveling south of downtown to South St. Paul and West St. Paul. When buses replaced streetcars, Twin City Rapid Transit ran buses to Arlington Avenue. North Suburban Lines, the last of the private suburban bus companies, ran a bus line on Rice Street to Circle Pines (this area is now served by Route 262).
Future: When the METRO Green Line opens June 14, Route 62 will buses will continue south of downtown St. Paul to the Signal Hills shopping center in West St. Paul. The Route 62 extension will replace Route 67 service, as Route 67 will end in downtown St. Paul and be extended west to the METRO Blue Line's Franklin Avenue Station. Buses will continue to run every half hour with weekday trips running between 4:30 a.m. and 1 a.m. on Rice Street and 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Smith Avenue in West St. Paul. Find complete route change details here.