Dressed in a suit and tie, Alon Coleman recently took his first trip on Route 83. If the interview he just finished leads to a new job, it will be the first of many for the 20-year-old St. Paul resident.
“That would be great,” Coleman said as he traveled south from Roseville to catch a Route 70 bus at St. Clair Avenue and finish his journey home. “I’m very conscious of my carbon footprint and it would really help me save money.”
Coleman was among many residents testing out Route 83 during its first week of operation. The new service began on Saturday, June 14, as part of a suite of bus improvements aimed at strengthening connections to METRO Green Line stations.
Route 83 buses run largely along Lexington Parkway, filling a gap in north-south service between Snelling Avenue (served by Route 84) and Dale Street (served by Route 65) and providing a new connection to the Green Line’s Lexington Parkway Station. Buses on the contracted route run between the Roseville Super Target and Montreal Circle in St. Paul with service every 30 minutes from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. seven days a week.
Chris Boldt is among those who immediately began using Route 83 to connect to the Green Line. Boldt works at the University of Minnesota and his research office is a short walk from the Green Line’s East Bank Station.
“Before, I just drove and parked,” Boldt said. “But I’m anti- paying for parking and this basically takes the same amount of time so it just makes sense (to take transit).”
Awazi Jaafaru, 15, also found instant value in the new route. Before she could take Route 83, getting to her internship on Energy Park Drive meant riding Route 23 to the Blue Line’s 38th Street Station, riding light-rail to downtown Minneapolis and transferring to Route 3.
In contrast, Route 83 provides a one-seat ride and gets her to the office in less than a half hour.
“It feels pretty good that it doesn’t have to be so complicated anymore,” said Jaafaru, who also plans to use Route 83 to connect to the Green Line and travel to classes at the U of M.
After testing out the Green Line on its first day of service, Linda Sootsman decided to take Route 83 to the Roseville Super Target to pick up a few items and see what the new route was like. Like many of the seniors who live with her at the Wilder Square Hi-Rise, Sootsman doesn’t own a vehicle and depends on transit to go to work and run errands.
“It’s great to have options because it gives me a lot more freedom,” Sootsman said. “I don’t see a need for me to get a car with the way I can get around on transit.”
Rachel Eutnam also appreciates having more options. Living in a one-car household, Eutnam uses transit during the day to get around with her one-year-old son. Eutnam was using Route 83 for the first time to visit the Ramsey County Library branch on Hamline Avenue.
“It’s all about connectivity and timing when I have to work around his naps,” she said.
Eutnam said she will also use Route 83 to visit one of St. Paul’s largest attractions, the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory. Stops on Lexington, Horton and Hamline avenues provide access to the park.
Campus Manager Michelle Furrer said Route 83 is a welcome addition as the park invests in transportation improvements aimed at relieving congestion. Around 4.4 million people visit the park ever year and more than 90 percent of park users arrive by car.
“We know we need to shift toward transit and having the addition of Route 83 and the Green Line that connects to it is a great step in the right direction,” Furrer said.
On the far south end of the route, buses will bring people directly to the Summit Brewery, located on Montreal Circle. Around 50,000 people visit the brewery every year and the combination of light-rail and bus service to the brewery’s front door “will be awesome,” said Carey Matthews, Summit’s marketing coordinator.
“The biggest thing for us is obviously greater accessibility to the brewery for the general public,” Matthews said. “It’s going to make it a lot easier for people to get over here and visit us.”
Route 83 At a Glance
Type: Urban Local
Service: Route 83 buses operate between the Roseville Super Target and Montreal Circle, just south of West Seventh Street in St. Paul. Buses primarily run on Lexington Avenue but also provide service on Hamline Avenue between Larpenteur and Como avenues and on Edgcumbe Road between Jefferson and Randolph avenues. The route runs non-stop on Interstate 35E between Randolph Avenue and West 7th Street. Buses run about every 30 minutes from approximately 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. seven days a week. An end-to-end trip takes around 37 minutes. The route serves many residences, businesses, schools and the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory. The route also intersects with the METRO Green Line’s Lexington Parkway Station, allowing customers to transfer to light-rail and continue toward downtown St. Paul or Minneapolis. In addition to the METRO Green Line, Route 83 is intersected by routes 65, 61, 3, 67, 21, 63, 70, 74 and 54.
Route Length: Approximately 8.5 miles
Stops: 39 northbound, 43 southbound
Vehicles: 25-foot, 22 passenger small bus (the smaller vehicle is used because of operational constraints -- a railroad overpass near Como Park prevents the use of a larger vehicle).
History: Buses ran on Lexington Parkway between Rosedale Center and Concordia Avenue beginning in June 2001, but the service was discontinued after 18 months. Route 83 began service on June 14, 2014 as part of a suite of bus improvements designed to better connect people to METRO Green Line stations. Route 83 is directly contracted by the Metropolitan Council and operated by a third-party provider but is a part of the regional transit network with scheduled connections to other routes, common fares and technology, and the same trip planning and customer service resources that make using it seamless for riders.