A transit agency that provides bus service to the southern suburbs said Wednesday it will alter several routes in Minneapolis in an effort to improve travel times in the city’s traffic-clogged downtown.
The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) will shift six southbound bus routes, equaling 47 daily trips, off busy Marquette Avenue beginning July 8. The affected southbound MVTA routes are the 464, 470, 472, 476, 478 and 479, providing about 1,500 daily rides on weekdays.
In recent weeks, more than 100 buses from four transit agencies have been using S. 2nd Avenue to detour around a closure between 10th and 11th streets. MVTA said downtown construction projects this summer have increased congestion, causing “unacceptable delays.” More than 40% of downtown workers commute to their jobs by public transit.
MVTA provides express service between Minneapolis and Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan and Rosemount in Dakota County and Prior Lake, Savage and Shakopee in Scott County.
Instead of boarding southbound routes on Marquette Avenue, MVTA customers using these routes will board at: 4th Avenue and 3rd Street; 4th Avenue and 5th Street; 4th Avenue and 7th Street; and 3rd Avenue and 11th Street.
Some MVTA passengers will have to walk about three additional blocks to board the bus, said spokesman Richard Crawford. “Depending on where customers are downtown, the distance to the boarding location may be closer,” he said.
MVTA has been reaching out to customers on affected routes this week to communicate the new routing and boarding locations. There will be no changes to other MVTA routes, and northbound routes into Minneapolis will not be affected.
“We owe it to our customers to seek viable solutions to the gridlock,” MVTA Transportation Director Samantha Porter said in a news release.
MVTA will monitor bus trip times during the construction-related detour to determine when normal routing will resume.
No changes to downtown routes or stops are planned for SouthWest Transit, according to Matt Fyten, director of operations for the Eden Prairie-based transit agency.
As construction on Marquette Avenue between 10th and 11th streets wraps up, SouthWest Transit “expects its services in the downtown zone to better adhere to their scheduled times,” Fyten said in an e-mail.
SouthWest, which provides about 3,200 daily rides to Eden Prairie, Chanhassen, Chaska and Carver from downtown Minneapolis, will monitor construction and travel times closely, he added.
Last month, SouthWest CEO Len Simich wrote a letter to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey insisting traffic control agents stationed at four key intersections should give priority to buses over cars. The gridlock had resulted in significant delays for commuters, Simich said. The agency urged riders on social media to complain to the city about congestion.
The city said last month that it had changed the timing of traffic lights to improve traffic flow downtown and altered metered parking to allow more room for buses to maneuver on some city streets.
In addition, work on 10th Street is now complete, according to city spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie. One northbound general traffic lane not used for buses is still closed on Marquette for concrete repair but should reopen Monday.
There will be additional work on the northeast corner of 11th Street and Marquette beginning Monday, McKenzie said. This will only involve closures on the north sidewalk, parking lane and bike lane on 11th Street, but not Marquette.