Maple Grove Transit officials are warning commuters that the parking garage at its main transit station may exceed capacity next week when students begin class at the University of Minnesota.
The Maple Grove Transit Station next to the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes has seen all but 30 to 40 of its 926 parking spaces filled on weekdays during August. Tuesday's start of the express bus service on Route 789 to the university is expected to draw an additional 60 riders, Transit Administrator Mike Opatz said.
"In September, we always see an uptick in ridership," Opatz said. Between students returning to school and workers returning to their fall commuter patterns, "a few things could put us in a bind."
Ridership from the Maple Grove Transit Station, which normally drops off a little bit during the summer, has remained strong, Opatz said. That might be because some riders who had been using the Parkway Station off Interstate 94 and Maple Grove Parkway may have switched to the Maple Grove station.
The Parkway station is closed for expansion. A temporary lot across the street at a Slumberland store has 383 spaces — about 120 fewer than Parkway.
The good news is that construction of 299 additional stalls at the Parkway Station is on track to be completed in November.
Opatz said Maple Grove Transit officials will closely monitor the parking situation at the Maple Grove and Parkway lots next week and could adjust routes to ease the overcrowding. One possible adjustment is moving Route 789 service to the Zachary Lane Park and Ride off Hwy. 610. That would not happen at least until Sept. 9 to give riders notice.
In the meantime, Opatz said, riders should have a backup plan.
"We can't guarantee everybody a spot," he said. "There could be situations where people will have to drive to other lots that have open spots," or may have to drive themselves to Minneapolis. "We hate to have people do that. We are working hard to prevent that."
Opatz said riders who have suggestions for dealing with the parking crunch can submit them via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 763-494-6005.