Twin Cities transit riders can reach more than 18,000 jobs within a half-hour when traveling by bus or train, up 7 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to study results recently released by the University of Minnesota.

One reason for the jump, say analysts who put together the annual Access Across America report, was the opening of the A Line. The Bus Rapid Transit line runs along Snelling Avenue in RoseĀ­ville and continues southwest to the 46th Street Station in Minneapolis, where riders can connect to other bus lines and the Blue Line.

The A Line has seen tremendous growth since its debut. In 2017, the A Line provided more than 1.5 million rides and exceeded ridership expectations by nearly 30 percent, according to Metro Transit figures. A second BRT line connecting downtown Minneapolis to Brooklyn Center via Penn Avenue is set to begin service in 2019. And if funding becomes available, the Met Council would like to build 10 more of the lines offering faster trips and more frequent service.

"The A Line continues to serve as a model for the type of success we can see when we make smart investments," said Alene Tchourumoff, Met Council chair. "Offering faster, more frequent and reliable service makes transit a viable choice for people who may not otherwise rely on public transit. ... Accessibility to transit is key to getting to work, school and other opportunities."

Overall, the Twin Cities ranks 13th nationally in the number of jobs accessible by transit, unchanged from the 2016 survey of the 49 largest U.S. cities based on population. The metro area has about 1.8 million jobs, said Andrew Owen, who authored the study.

Transit-robust New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Boston had the most jobs accessible by public transportation. Kansas City, with a streetcar line that opened in May 2016 and an expansion on the drawing board, had the biggest jump in the number of jobs accessible by transit with a 17 percent increase. But the Twin Cities placed ninth on the list of cities that saw the biggest increases in the number of jobs accessible by transit.

With the metro area population about 3.6 million, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released this year, and the Met Council projecting that to rise to 3.74 million by 2040, the findings show the region will need more transit options, Tchourumoff said.

"As we anticipate the growth expected for our region, we know demand for transit will also increase. We must continue to invest in regional transit."

Driver makes $100,000 mistake

Bad things happen when motorists disobey Road Closed signs. In late June, a driver went around barriers on Hwy. 63 north of Rochester and plowed through 800 feet of freshly poured concrete. The 95-year-old man admitted his misdeed and said it was "a big mistake," the State Patrol report read. He was fined $300.

MnDOT is now facing a $100,000 repair bill, which it hopes to get back from the driver's insurance, said spokeswoman Anne Meyer.

It is not uncommon for drivers to disobey Road Closed signs. Motorists may follow trucks into work zones, unaware that they are in one, or they may disregard them because they know only one way to get home, said Lt. Tiffani Nielson of the State Patrol.

Meyer said the incident is a reminder to stay off closed roads. "You never know what you will encounter on the other side of a barrier."

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