The name isn't likely to leave riders' lexicon any time soon, but starting Friday the light-rail line that runs from downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America in Bloomington won't be called the Hiawatha Line.
The line is being rebranded as the Metro Blue Line, said Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland.
As part of the change over and to educate riders, transit agency officials will hold a launch party from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Friday at the 46th Street Station in south Minneapolis, As part of the festivities, Metro Transit will unveil new logos for the Blue Line, new station graphics and pass out new schedules for riders. They also will distribute special commemorative fare cards.
Over the past couple weeks, destination signs with blue markers and the words "Blue Line" have been used to help riders become familiar with the line's new name. New rail cars recently added to the line also will be on display.
Getting riders familiar with the Blue Line name will be important because the new Green Line trains between Minneapolis and St. Paul will start running next year. In downtown Minneapolis, the two lines will share a track and station stops.
It also will help distinguish the train from the new Red Line Bus Rapid Transit line that is scheduled to begin operating in June 22 along Cedar Avenue from Bloomington to Eagan, Apple Valley and Lakeville.
For the 31,000 daily users, the name change "will be hard," said Siqveland, noting that the light-rail line has been known as the Hiawatha Line since its debut in 2004.
Even Metro Transit's web site won't totally eliminate references to "Hiawatha." To ease the transition, a web page describing Blue Line service will keep the word Hiawatha in parenthesis in the title.
Other than the name change, the Blue Line also will have longer trains. Metro Transit will now operate three-car trains, which will run about every 10 minutes throughout most of the day.
Last year, Metro Transit provided 10.5 million rides on the line, the highest number since rail service began nine years ago.
Authorities are trying to find out what made a city bus to go off a freeway ramp and land in the woods Thursday morning in St. Paul.
Minnesota Valley Transit bus 4461 went off the ramp from Shepard Road at 35E about 7:50 a.m. this morning, said Robin Selvig, a transit authority spokeswoman.
There were no passengers on the bus, which was headed south from downtown St. Paul.
The driver was not injured and will undergo drug and alcohol testing, which is standard procedure.
The drive on 494 in both directions through Bloomington is still taking about 20 minutes. The delays run from Hwy. 169 over to Cedar Avenue.
All lanes on westbound Hwy. 36 are open now that a crash that had been blocking the left lane at Dale Street is gone. It's still 13 minutes from White Bear Avenue over to Hwy. 280.
Both east and west 694 are tight approaching 35W. Plan on an extra 5 to 8 minutes to get past 35W in each direction.
A tow truck is preparing to rescue a Minnesota Valley Transit Authority bus that went off the ramp from northbound 35E at Shepard Road and landed in the woods.
A stall on northbound 35W at 36th Street is gone, and traffic is close to normal speeds. Plan on just a couple extra minutes coming up from Crosstown.
The drive on 694 in both directions continues to be a bear between 35E and Central Avenue. That is 20 minutes in both directions.
On westbound Hwy. 36, a crash in the left lane is stacking up traffic beginning at Hwy. 61. The wreck is at Dale Street.
A stall on northbound 35W is 15 minutes from Crosstown to downtown. A stall at 36th Street is now out of the way.
Northbound Cedar Avenue is still trying to recover from an earlier crash at 66th Street. There are pockets of congestion from the Mall of America up to the Crosstown.
Look for slowdowns on eastbound 394 from Hwy. 100 to Dunwoody Blvd.
Southbound 35W is quite heavy from Hwy. 10 ti 694 and slows again at Johnson Pkwy. Plan on 25 minutes from Hwy. 10 to downtown Minneapolis.
Northbound 35W is getting quite heavy from 50th Street to downtown Minneapolis. Look for a stall at 36th Street. Plan on 15 minutes from Crosstown to downtown.
The backup on westbound Hwy. 36 now starts at Hwy. 61. That is due to a left-lane blocking crash at Dale Street. Plan on 15 minutes there.