Trips between the two downtowns on the new Green Line light rail will take more than 48 minutes, or about 15 minutes longer than an express bus between the two cities, according to timetables released by Metro Transit.
The metro area's newest light-rail line will begin rolling June 14, the same day a host of bus route changes go into effect in Metro Transit's most massive restructuring of service and schedules since the Blue Line opened in 2004. Those changes will include the addition of new bus routes to connect riders to the Green Line and expanded hours on others.
As of April, Metro Transit said it would take about 40 minutes to travel from the Nicollet Mall station in downtown Minneapolis to Central station in downtown St. Paul. Traveling from Target Field to Union Depot — end to end — would add several minutes to that schedule. The Green Line will have 23 stops along its 11 miles.
It won't be a fast ride, but the Green Line was built to connect people with destinations, much like the Route 16 bus on University Avenue does now, said Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland.
Currently the average trip taken by bus passengers on the University Avenue corridor is 3 miles, and Siqveland said that is likely to be the case with Green Line riders.
"People are still learning the nature of light rail," he said. "This is not like the Northstar that can run at 79 miles per hour along a 40-mile route with six stops. We think a 48-minute schedule is a realistic schedule."
One bus route, the limited-stop 50, will be eliminated, and service will be offered less frequently on the two principal routes that currently run between Minneapolis and St. Paul, the 16 on University Avenue and the 94 express.
For faster trips between the downtowns, the Route 94 express bus would be the transportation mode of choice. Buses whisk riders between the downtowns in 25 to 30 minutes with no stops in between. While weekday service during peak hours will remain unchanged, service frequency will be reduced on weekday evenings and totally eliminated on Saturdays and Sundays.
Route 16 will no longer serve downtown Minneapolis — it will terminate at the University of Minnesota — and it will run less frequently on weekdays and weekends. Buses will run about every 20 minutes compared with the current schedule offering service every 8 to 12 minutes depending on time and day of week. The Green Line will be used to fill in the gaps.
Buses pulled from Routes 16 and 94 will be reallocated to new feeder routes and used for expanded service on other routes to get riders to and from the train. A new Route 83 will operate every 30 minutes along Lexington Parkway and W. 7th Street in St. Paul, providing service from the Green Line to destinations such as the Roseville Target store, Concordia University, Grand Avenue and the Summit Brewery.
Other routes such as 67 will see service improve to every 20 to 30 minutes and to seven days a week. The route provides service on Minnehaha and Franklin Avenues and will connect with Green Line stations at Rice Street, Fairview Avenue and Raymond Avenue. It also will stop at the Franklin Avenue Station on the Blue Line.
Route 65 will have increased frequency on Dale Street and County Road B between the Rosedale Transit Center and a new southern extension to Grand Avenue. The route makes connections with Green Line light-rail trains at the Dale Street Station.
Starting next week, Siqveland said, Metro Transit will have ambassadors at busy stops along Route 94 to get the word out about the schedule changes and answer riders' questions.
On the Green Line's opening weekend, the agency also will have expanded hours in its Transit Information Center to help riders plan trips and will have special Saturday and Sunday hours in its customer relations office.
The Green Line is expected to provide an estimated 13.2 million annual rides by 2030, according to a Met Council report. Models project that about 40 percent of Green Line customers will ride a bus to a light-rail station.
Green Line trains will run 24 hours, with service offered every 10 minutes throughout the day, every 10 to 15 minutes in the evenings, and hourly in the overnight hours.