The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) has been serving south-suburban commuters for years with weekday express service to downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul from Cedar Avenue. The start of the Red Line bus rapid transit (BRT) service will not change that.

Rather than replacing the express buses, BRT will supplement them, operating along Cedar every day of the week — with buses arriving every 15 minutes during peak times and every 30 minutes on evenings and weekends — from Apple Valley through Eagan to the Mall of America in Bloomington.

Some commuters may use the BRT to get to work along Cedar, and they have the option of riding to the Mall of America and transferring to the Hiawatha light-rail line to get to work downtown.

But using BRT and the light rail would actually take longer than the existing express service — about an hour, compared with a 40- to 43-minute express bus trip from the Apple Valley Transit Station to downtown Minneapolis.

Transit officials say it's likely that the BRT will attract riders who are going to the Mall of America to work or shop, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to work or travel, to downtown Minneapolis sporting events, and to various locations along Cedar including Apple Valley's commercial district near County Road 42 and an outlet mall set to open in Eagan in August 2014.

The MVTA also has revamped its local bus service to connect with each BRT station and take riders to residential areas and destinations such as the Minnesota Zoo, the Dakota County Library and Service Center in Apple Valley and Burnsville Center.