A $25 million overhaul of the Mall of America station — one of the busiest hubs in the Metro Transit system — quietly debuted Monday.
The station serves as a terminus for Blue Line light rail trains and the Red Line bus-rapid transit line, as well as several bus routes. Some 2.75 million passengers are expected to use the station annually, according to Howie Padilla, Metro Transit spokesman.
Work began last year to update the 25-year-old station, which hasn’t undergone a renovation since 2004, when the Blue Line began service.
The new station features a long, wide corridor leading to escalators that feed directly into the megamall near the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium. Before, transit customers had to walk through the dark and utilitarian facility and across a feeder street to get to a mall entrance. Other new amenities include better lighting and family restrooms.
Padilla said the station is expected to serve an even split of Mall of America visitors and employees. About 20% of the Mall of America’s employees use transit at least once a week.
The mall, one of the largest in the country with more than 520 stores, hosts about 40 million visitors a year, according to its website. About 11,000 people work there year round.
A grand opening of the new transit station is scheduled for November. There is still work to be done on the project, including the demolition of the existing transit station, construction of a wall near the elevators in the old station, as well as paving and concrete work.
“This is very nice and attractive,” St. Paul resident Sherrie Abrahamson said as she waited for a bus Monday. She said vending machines would be an added perk, and the long corridor to the mall and queues to buses may prove challenging for the elderly and people with disabilities.
Money for the station came from various sources, including the city of Bloomington; the state; the now-defunct Counties Transit Improvement Board, which levied a local transit sales tax; Metro Transit; and the Federal Transit Administration.