A new $5 million bus station -- the first of its kind for Minnesota -- will open to commuters Monday in the median of Interstate 35W at 46th Street in south Minneapolis.

The glass-enclosed station features two levels -- one on the 46th Street bridge over the freeway, where local buses will drop off passengers who will take stairs or an elevator down to the freeway level to catch north- or southbound express buses.


The station is one of several "on-line" stations that will be built for so-called bus rapid transit, or BRT, between Lakeville and Minneapolis. It was built with state and federal funds.

The idea is that by picking up and dropping off customers without leaving the freeway, buses are faster and more reliable, more like trains. Freeway buses operate north and south every 15 minutes during rush hour and at longer intervals throughout the day. The entire BRT service is set to start in late 2012.


Local Metro Transit buses will bring passengers to the new station to catch express buses to downtown Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota or suburban work centers such as Best Buy headquarters in Richfield and Normandale Community College in Bloomington. Metro Transit staff will be on hand 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. to answer questions and serve coffee.


Seven routes will take passengers to and from the station. Four freeway express routes will make nearly 100 trips each weekday. Three local routes on 46th Street will make more than 200 weekday trips. During rush hours, Route 535 freeway buses will run every 15 minutes to meet every local bus.


The station is heated and cooled with geothermal technology and outfitted with LED lighting turned on by motion sensors. Electronic signs at the street and freeway level will alert passengers to bus arrival times. For people who bike to catch a bus, the station has a chute along the stairs for walking down or up from the loading platform.

Laurie Blake • 612-673-1711