Shay Johnson would like to see metal benches replaced with more comfortable seating at the Brooklyn Center Transit Center.
James Tribue wants bathrooms that are clean and open well into the evening. Others said they want places to charge their cellphones.
Metro Transit is planning a major makeover of the north metro bus hub this spring and summer, and the agency is asking transit riders to submit their wish lists and other feedback as it finalizes plans and comes up with a budget.
Some things are certain. The 15-year-old station will get a refreshed interior with new lighting, renovated public restrooms and a lounge for drivers. Outdoor upgrades will include new concrete and crosswalks, canopies at both ends of the plaza and installation of additional bike racks. Plans also call for a new police substation to deal with crime and calls for police.
“This is a significant project for us,” said Metro Transit spokesman Drew Kerr. “The facility is seeing more use. It’s already being serviced by the C Line, and the D Line will come there, so it’s even more important that the site look and be at its best now and in the future.”
The agency will go ahead with the renovation even as Metro Transit waits to secure all the funding for the D Line rapid bus that is projected to begin operating in 2021. About $55 million in federal and Metropolitan Council funds have been identified for the D Line, which would connect Brooklyn Center with downtown Minneapolis, largely following the current Route 5.
The Brooklyn Center Transit Center, at 2900 Bass Lake Road, across from the Shingle Creek Crossing shopping center, is served by 12 bus lines and is a key connection point for northwest suburban bus riders. Each weekday, there are about 2,900 boardings and 850 bus trips to and from the station, Kerr said.
Ridership at the station is growing and so are the number of calls for police. Data from Metro Transit show the agency’s Police Department responded to 3,536 calls for service in 2019, up from 2,450 the previous year. Brooklyn Center police say they have responded to 749 calls in the same two-year period, and that the station is in “one of the busiest areas of the city,” said Cmdr. Garett Flesland.
Most of the increase was in less serious crimes, such as smoking in prohibited areas, loitering, drunkenness and vandalism. Metro Transit’s data show that the number of serious offenses, such as aggravated assault and robbery, declined significantly last year.
Beginning in March, the Metro Transit Police Department dedicated officers to the transit center for eight hours a day to address reports of crime, cleanliness and livability issues, said agency spokesman Howie Padilla, noting that could account for the increase in calls, including police-initiated calls, such as for fare inspections.
“We can’t definitely say if crime is up or down, but whatever criminal acts are being committed, they are being addressed,” Padilla said. By adding a police substation, Metro Transit can counter the perception that the transit center might not be safe, “and that ultimately is the goal.”
Johnson, who was on her way to a friend’s house and waiting for a Route 721 bus, isn’t thrilled with the idea of having more police at the transit center, but she said she does want a full-time security guard.
“And they need bullet-proof glass,” said Johnson, who has used the transit station off and on for the past 10 years.
Tribue, who lives in Anoka, said he thought Brooklyn Center was “a pretty decent transit station” that didn’t need a lot of work. But since the project is planned, he had two small requests.
“Make sure the restrooms are usable after 4 p.m.,” he said as he waited inside the station for a transfer from the C Line to another bus. And “vending machines would be nice.”