Maple Grove Transit officials are warning commuters that the parking garage at its main transit station may exceed capacity next week as students return to class at the University of Minnesota.
During August, the Maple Grove Transit Station adjacent to the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes has seen all but 30 to 40 its 926 parking spaces filled on weekdays. The agency will begin express bus service on Route 789 to the University of Minnesota on Tuesday and that is expected to draw an additional 60 riders, said Transit Administrator Mike Opatz.
Some of those will get rides to the transit center, Opatz said, but "in September, we always see an uptick in ridership." Plus with many people 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 of I-94 and Maple Grove Pkwy. may have switched over to the Maple Grove Station.
The Parkway Station is closed while it is undergoing an expansion. A temporary lot is operating across the street at a Slumberland store, but that lot has only 383 spaces or about 120 fewer parking stalls than what had been available at Parkway.
During construction, the temporary Parkway station has been consistently filled at 75 percent of capacity or better. The high water mark was 365 and has averaged 340 parkers a day, Opatz said.
The good news is that work on the construction of 299 additional stalls at the Parkway station is on track to be completed in November. Until then, parking is likely to be tight there, too.
Opatz said Maple Grove Transit officials will closely monitor the parking situation at both the Maple Grove and Parkway lots next week and could possibly adjust routes to alleviate the overcrowding. One possible adjustment is moving Route 789 service to the Zachary Lane Park and Ride off of Hwy. 610. That would not happen at least until Sept. 9 to give riders notice.
In the meantime, Opatz said riders should be aware of the possible space crunch that could develop next week, and have a backup plan in place.
"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 with idea can submit them via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 763-494-6005.