With funding for the new Orange Line in hand, Metro Transit is preparing for another big bus project — the E-Line.

Rapid buses operate like light-rail trains on wheels, stopping only at stations and platforms about every quarter- to half-mile apart. Riders pay fares on the platform before boarding and can board or exit buses through the front or back doors. Fewer stops and faster boarding make for faster trips.

That would be welcome along traffic-clogged Hennepin Avenue between downtown Minneapolis and Lake Street. Route 6 buses there sometimes creep along at 6 miles per hour.

Metro Transit has been looking to add rapid buses in Uptown since 2012 when Hennepin was identified as a corridor that would benefit from the service.

More than 9,000 trips are taken each weekday on Route 6, which runs from the University of Minnesota through downtown to Southdale Center in Edina.

Staff will introduce the project and the rapid bus concept to people who live along the corridor at meetings this week, said senior planner Kyle O’Donnell Burrows. The first is from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday at Pershing Recreation Center, 3523 W. 48th St., and another will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Marcy Open School, 415 4th Av. SE.

“It’s a kickoff,” he said, noting that people will hear a lot more about the E-Line in 2019 when Metro Transit decides station placement and whether to extend rapid bus service to other parts of Route 6.

The agency also will be planning bus service to connect with the new Southwest light-rail line, now being built, between downtown Minneapolis and Eden Prairie.

Metro Transit does not have E-Line ridership projections yet, said Katie Roth, Metro Transit’s arterial bus rapid transit manager. It could be substantial if ridership on the A-Line is any indication.

A year after it began, ridership on that rapid bus line from Rosedale Center along Snelling Avenue and then over to the 46th Street light-rail platform in Minneapolis was 32 percent higher than the local bus it replaced.

This year, ridership on the A-line rapid bus and the Red Line bus-rapid transit line hit 1.4 million, up 2 percent over 2017, Metro Transit figures show.

That has been the one bright spot in bus ridership this year. Rides on local buses are down 4 percent, and express buses are down 8 percent during the first nine months of 2018.

E-line construction likely won’t begin until 2023. Metro Transit also is eyeing a rapid bus line on Lake Street and Marshall Avenue.

“As we continue to make investments … we hope [riders] will continue to choose transit,” Roth said.

Weigh in on Hwy. 252

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is holding open houses this week to get input on plans to upgrade Hwy. 252 through Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park. The meetings, all scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., are Tuesday at Evergreen Park World Cultures Community School in Brooklyn Center, Wednesday at the Brooklyn Park Community Activity Center and Thursday at Folwell Recreation Center in Minneapolis. MnDOT has plans for a MnPass lane on I-94 from downtown Minneapolis up to Hwy. 252 and continuing north to Hwy. 610.

Hundreds of people have commented already, but “we want to recommunicate the need for this project,” said spokesman Kent Barnard. “The answers will come from the public.”

 

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