Onida Fowler paged through the 477 bus schedule at the Apple Valley Transit Station a little after 8 on a Wednesday morning.
“I’m just trying to check if I missed my bus,” she said.
Fowler rides the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority express bus to downtown Minneapolis for work. The express buses run north during the morning rush and south in the afternoon and evening. With the upcoming opening of the Cedar Avenue bus rapid transit (BRT) service, Fowler said she’s interested in the promise of regular, frequent transit service without having to stress about a bus schedule — and without worrying about whether a bus will be available in case she has to work late.
Fowler gave up driving to work eight years ago and has tried several combinations of buses and light-rail service in search of the fastest and most convenient way to and from downtown.
“I used to drive to work, but because of the traffic and amount of time sitting in the car, I couldn’t do it anymore,” Fowler said. “Now, I can sit and relax and just go.”
The new service won’t be as fast to and from downtown, and it will require a transfer to light rail or another bus to get there, but it offers the flexibility for Fowler to stay in the office later or leave earlier, during times the express buses don’t run. She used to drive to a Bloomington park-and-ride and take the light rail in case she had to work late, but it took longer than her current express bus. “I took the light rail so I wouldn’t have to worry if I’m going to work late and there’s no bus service, but the 30-minute drive to Bloomington wasn’t worth it,” she said.
She hopes soon she’ll have the best of both worlds, with the all-day BRT service up Cedar to Bloomington, where she can connect to other transit, was well as the express bus option. “With the BRT, that will give me more options,” she said.
Regardless of whether the new line improves her commute, Fowler appreciates public transportation in the south metro. “I think it’s great. I love it,” Fowler said. “It makes my commute easier and less stressful — that’s the most important part. And it saves time.”