Metro Transit is proposing some major changes for bus riders in parts of the west metro.
The West End and Route 9 Transit Study calls for eliminating four of the six segments of Route 9 with low ridership west of downtown Minneapolis and restructuring three other routes to improve service to the West End, a fast-growing high-density job and residential development near I-394 and Hwy. 100 in St. Louis Park
Besides trimming the Route 9 down to two branches, express Route 675 would be restructured into a limited-stop Route 645, local Route 604 between Excelsior Boulevard and I-394 would be shortened and Route 649 would be axed and absorbed into the new Route 645 and the redesigned Route 9.
The public will get a chance to see the plans during two open houses this week. The first is from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday with a presentation at 5 p.m. at Harrison Education Center, 501 Irving Avenue N., Minneapolis. There is another from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday with a presentation at 1:30 p.m. at the Showplace ICON Theatre Community Room, 1625 West End Blvd., St. Louis Park.
Metro Transit said it needs to adjust service along the lines that run through north Minneapolis, Golden Valley, Minnetonka and St. Louis Park to get people to and from retail and service jobs in the West End. Currently, there are 12,000 jobs in the area, a number that is expected to rise to 16,000 by 2020. As many of the jobs pay less than $40,000 a year, the agency said, pointing to the need for more reliable and consistent transit service to the area.
Of course, with any service changes there are winners and losers. Overall, service in the study area would rise by 7 percent on weekdays and 5 percent on weekends, Metro Transit said. But current riders of Routes 9B west of Penn Avenue, 9H along France Avenue and the east Hwy. 100 frontage road and the portion of the 9 that runs on Cedar Lake Road between Glenwood and Penn avenues would lose service.
The new Route 645 replacing express Route 675 would serve current Route 9 customers who board at the Louisiana Transit Center and head to the West End. The bus will travel on local streets between the Louisiana Transit Center and Park Place Blvd. adding 2 to 4 minutes for some riders. On the upside, fares will drop since it no longer meets the criteria of an express route.
Route 604, serving Methodist Hospital, would stop at the Louisiana Transit Center and no longer continue on to the Park Place Park and Ride or streets near the West End. Passengers would be able to make better connections to Routes 12, 17, 645 and 707 at the Louisiana Transit Center. Route 604 would continue to run hourly, but a 7 a.m. southbound trip and a 5 p.m. northbound trip would be added to the schedule.
Transit riders can comment in person at either of the public meetings or submit written comment to the Met Council by 5 p.m. Sept. 19. Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to 390 N. Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101.
Comments can also recorded on the Met Council's Public Comment line at 651-602-1500.